From the monthly archives: "September 2003"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

I have a neighbour who has a problem with a sound coming from a tree in his backyard ( we live in southern Ontario). It sounds quite a bit like a sqwaking bird but on investigation there does not seem to be a bird present. The sound begins at dusk and continues EVERY 5 seconds!!! through the night. My neighbour thinks that it may stop early in the morning ie around 2 am although this may just be the time he passes out because this thing has driven him to drink. Is it possible that a bug would produce such a loud, persistent, irrititating noise?
Thank you for your help.
BillyD

Dear BillyD,
Cicadas can be very loud, especially in the late summer.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Whole lotta legs
Dear Señor Bugman,
Please help. What the !*&^%$!@* are these things?!?!
I am an American who was transferred to Mexico for my job. I live in a small town located in Mexico (State of Sonora) along the Sea of Cortez. Unfortunately living conditions here are not the best. Yes, we found these horrible things in our house. Yes, we have had the house fumigated (several times). AND YES, I am having nightmares about being eaten alive by these giant bugs. It took a half a jug of Ortho bug killer to bring these creatures to their demise (me screaming the entire time). See attached pictures. We have also encountered tarantulas, reptiles, and snakes in our home. Needless to say, every single day here is an adventure in the animal kingdom that’s for sure.

My goodness. I consider myself to be fairly brave in the face of most bugs – I can squash ’em with the best of ’em. However, when the bugs begin to approach the size of a small dog and they have hair of their own and small things that resemble horns-things change. YUCK!!! I get the heebie-jeebies just reading about them on your web site.

As for the reptilia I have so bravely encountered in my shower each day….let me just say – NO!!! I adore anything with fur (okay maybe not bugs with fur), I can tolerate things with feathers and fins…but ANYTHING that falls into the reptile category HAS GOT TO GO!!! YYYYEEESSSSHHHHHH!!!
In any case….can you please just tell me if the pictures I’ve attached of these creeepy crawly things are poisonous???
Muchas gracias,
CactusGirlBecky
Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico

Icky Long Bug: Millipede


Big Ugly Bug: Multicolored Centipede

Dear Bugged Out Cactus Girl Becky,
At the risk of seeming insensitive, I just love your letter, and the photos are great. Please continue to send us photos of Mexican fauna whenever you want.
Your Icky Long Bug is a millipede, and it is harmless. On the other hand, your big ugly bug is a centipede that is capable of inflicting a painful and poisonous bite. At least yours is not as big as they grow in other parts of the tropics and in the Oklahoma desert where they are reported to reach upwards of eight inches. Yours appears to be a Multi-Colored Centipede, Scolopendra polymorpha. Little is known about their biology. The last pair of legs is capable of pinching. The reptile looks like a gecko, and will probably eat insects in your shower.

(10/14/2003)
Dear most Knowledgeable Bugman,
Ooops. Sorry I see that you addressed my "bug letter" on your bug site already, so please ignore the email I just resent to you.

Thanks you so much for responding to my email on your website. It is much appreciated. At least I now know which bugs are poisonous (and require screaming AND running) vs. the bugs which are not poisonous (only require screaming).

I will continue to capture strange Mexico bug pictures and email them to you. Thank god my camera has a giant zoom lens. You can bet I won’t be getting close to any of these gawd awful slimy things.

On a more pleasant note…..we had another snake invade our house this week. My heroic husband managed to skewer it with his pool que. Now there’s creative reptile/bug killing! The last time we had a snake in our house, it managed to hide in the bathroom until I had to tinkle. Guess who REALLY woke up at 5:30 a.m. in the morning when it crawled across the tops of their bare feet? Yes, that’d be me. I ended up perched on top the of the toilet with the snake between me and the only escape route (the door, of course). Screams can’t even begin to describe what sounds my husband woke up to that morning. When he opened up the bathroom door it slithered across his feet too (serves him right for sleeping through my snake trauma). He ended up whacking that one in half, and then stood there in total shock while both halves kept moving. Utter horror! Right out of a Steven King novel. I kid you not. Maybe someday when I am brave enough, I will tell you about the story of the cockroach nest in our water tank. Shivvvvvvver.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

My daughter found these cocoon like pods next door to my house. There where many pods (15 in all) around the pine tree and on the pine tree that looked very natural. I’m unable to tell her what they are. Can you please help in identifying the ponds.
Brooklyn N.Y.
Michael Caputo & Kids

Dear Michael,
You have Bagworms, Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis. They are common but rarely become serious pests. According to The Golden Guide Insect book, "their history is strange. The wingless and legless female, after mating, crawls back into her ‘bag’ and lays hundreds of yellow eggs, which hatch in spring. The young larvae feed on leaves of many kinds of trees, building their conical bags as they feed. Later they bind their bags to twigs (or in your case the brick wall) and pupate. The male emerges, seeks the female, and mates." We have a Bagworm page with additional information.


Bagworm
Dear What’s That Bug,
My girlfriend and I are stumped on identifying a bug, or more accurately, a cocoon that has latched on to the outside of her home in central Texas. 3 weeks ago this creature was partially out of its shell, and dragging this strange looking cocoon along with him. He then preceded to pull himself up a brick wall, and has been there without sign of life for 3 weeks now.
Can you help identify this strange looking creature?
Thanks,
Chris

Dear Mister Chris,
I appologize for the delay in your answer, but the photo was lost in the bowels of American Homebody while America’s Sweetheart was in Miami. I just received the image. You have a bagworm, Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis. The exact composition of the bag is dependant upon the host plant which can be any number of deciduous trees as well as the preferred coniferous trees. Juniper is a particular favorite. I have located some information on www.ianr.unl.edu for you. Bagworms feed on shade, orchard, and forest trees of nearly every kind, as well as many ornamental shrubs and perennials. Severe attacks are unusual. Since deciduous plants grow new leaves, damage to them is usually not serious. The growth of small or newly planted trees, however, could be slowed by leaf feeding. Newly hatched larvae begin to spin silken bags around themselves shortly after hatching. The first evidence of infestation is the presence of 1/4 inch bags which are carried almost on end by the young caterpillars inside. As larvae grow, leaf fragments are added to the bag, which may reach a length of 2 inches by the end of summer. The adult female moth is wingless and never leaves the bag. Adult males are small, grey moths with clear wings. Bagworms overwinter in the egg stage inside female bags fastened to twigs. Eggs hatch in late May and early June, and larvae feed until late August or early September. Males emerge in September and mate with females through the bag entrance. You can also check out this website www.ag.auburn.edu which has some great photos of the bagworm.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Hi, glad to find your site. You can answer at my home address I’ve sent a
copy to. I found an insect in my bathroom on the floor, took it outside. Found an identical one a few days later, this time in the sink. I did make a digital photo of it and was wondering if I may send it to you as an attachment. I believe this creature was about an inch long, looks like a beetle but the rear half of the body has no wings. If it lands upside down it cannot right itself. Its base color is black, with bright accents on the rear half of the body. Let me know about the pic and I’ll send it right off to you. Its mouth parts are easy to see. It was not touchy and had no problem with crawling right on to a piece of paper so I could take it outside.

You have found a Burying Beetle, Nicrophorus species, which is an extremely interesting beetle. The adults are capable of burying the entire carcass of a small animal, like a mouse, which they dig under until the body falls into the hole. It then is buried and becomes the food source of the larvae after the eggs have been deposited on the corpse. According to Borror, Triplehorn and Johnson in their book An Introduction to the Study of Insects, "These beetles are remarkably strong. A pair may move an animal as large as a rat several feet to get it to a suitable spot for burying." Adults and grubs both feed on carrion. Thank you for sending the images.

Thank you! That was very fast. Seems to be a very useful insect.

08/01/2005) We Stand Corrected
Nicrophorus picture On the first beetle page there is a picture dated 9/11/2003 of a Nicrophorus. You have identified it as Nicrophorus americana. N. americana has a reddish-orange pronotum (the upper part of the body between the head and the elytra. The specimen would also be small for americana if the coin in the upper left hand corner is a nickle (americana would be about twice this size). Brett Ratcliffe at the University of Nebraska might be able to tell you what species of Nicrophorus this is.
Charles Wright
Frankfort, KY

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Hi, glad to find your site. You can answer at my home address I’ve sent a
copy to. I found an insect in my bathroom on the floor, took it outside. Found an identical one a few days later, this time in the sink. I did make a digital photo of it and was wondering if I may send it to you as an attachment. I believe this creature was about an inch long, looks like a beetle but the rear half of the body has no wings. If it lands upside down it cannot right itself. Its base color is black, with bright accents on the rear half of the body. Let me know about the pic and I’ll send it right off to you. Its mouth parts are easy to see. It was not touchy and had no problem with crawling right on to a piece of paper so I could take it outside.

You have found a Burying Beetle, Nicrophor
us species, which is an extremely interesting beetle. The adults are capable of burying the entire carcass of a small animal, like a mouse, which they dig under until the body falls into the hole. It then is buried and becomes the food source of the larvae after the eggs have been deposited on the corpse. According to Borror, Triplehorn and Johnson in their book An Introduction to the Study of Insects, "These beetles are remarkably strong. A pair may move an animal as large as a rat several feet to get it to a suitable spot for burying." Adults and grubs both feed on carrion. Thank you for sending the images.

Thank you! That was very fast. Seems to be a very useful insect.

08/01/2005) We Stand Corrected
Nicrophorus pictureOn the first beetle page there is a picture dated 9/11/2003 of a Nicrophorus. You have identified it as Nicrophorus american
a. N. americana has a reddish-orange pronotum (the upper part of the body between the head and the elytra. The specimen would also be small for americana if the coin in the upper left hand corner is a nickle (americana would be about twice this size). Brett Ratcliffe at the University of Nebraska might be able to tell you what species of Nicrophorus this is.
Charles Wright
Frankfort, KY

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Thank goodness for your web site. I have been looking 4 info on this thing 4 days. I live in N Indiana. Not having lived here for long… I was totally freaked when my daughter and her friend brought home "diffy" (as they named him). I took him all over the neighborhood questioning my neighbors. None of them had ever seen one before. My daughter brought it to school…no one had any info. So, thank you so much for the info that you provide! We had had him for a few days now and he seems not to be faring to well. Should I try and cover him w/ dirt and see if he coocoons??
Thanks so much!!!!
Sharon

Give it a shot Sharon. Good luck. He would probably be getting sluggish before pupating anyways. He does not form a cocoon, but a naked pupa.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination