From the monthly archives: "November 2003"

Yellow-green worm
Dear What’s That Bug,
We live out in the country in central Texas (30 minutes northeast of College
Station). When I went to change the sheets on my extra bed last night, I
discovered HUNDREDS of tiny yellow-green worms that had reproduced there
since I last changed the sheets (1-2 months ago). They were about about an
inch long (inch worm?). We hang our sheets outside in a wooded area and are assuming they came in with the sheets and multiplied like crazy. Do you know what they are. There were little caccoons in the bed folds, pillows, etc. Could they still be in the mattress!?! Being a city girl myself, I’ve adapted to the wide variety of spiders and roaches surrounding our house, but this has made me reach my limit! Your help would be greatly appreciated. What a great service you have!
Caren George

Dear Caren,
I must say, this is confusing. What you are calling worms are probably the larval form of some insect. Two common household pests that will eat organic matter, including cotton, are carpet beetles and clothing moths, but neither have larvae that are yellow green. You also didn’t state that the sheets had been damaged in any way, so I am eliminating them as possible culprits. There is no way that your free-loaders grew and reproduced between the sheets without eating. I suppose it is possible that they migrated there in search of a warm place to metamorphose, but that still doesn’t give me a clue as to what they might be. I will continue to research and hopefully get back to you when I discover something. Additionally, Inchworms are actually the caterpillars of a group of moths known as geometrids, and they get their name from their curious method of locomotion which has the
appearance of measuring.

Mystery Solved
Dear Bugman,
We came home last night to more little worms (only a handful this
time)–even though we bleached and washed the sheets and cleaned the room completely. We tore down the bed and found the nasty culprit. A storage bin of cat food my husband had put under the bed. It was COMPLETELY webbed and gross and the bin was full of little moths. Looked on your site and was able to identify Indian Meal Moths! We emptied the room, cleaned EVERYTHING and put it back together again. I’ll write again frantically if that didn’t solve the problem! Thank you so much for your service and getting back to me. This city girl needs all the help she can get!
Caren George

Ed. Note: October 5, 2010
This past weekend, we really wanted to link to this old posting, but alas, we could not locate it.  Our webmaster tracked it down and it seemed it did not make our major website migration just over two years ago.  We suspect this is not the only missing gem, but the perk that comes from resposting it is that the photo can be greatly enlarged with our new technology.

Banana Spider!
(11/10/2003) Unidentified Spider from Puerto Rico
Hi Bugman,
While staying in Puerto Rico two summers ago, my boyfriend caught this freeloader living in his apartment without paying rent. Do you know what kind it is?
Jennifer & Donny

Banana Spider

Dear Jennifer and Donny,
First let me say yours is one of the most beautiful photos we have ever received. Thank you for sending the image of a male Heteropoda venatoria, also called a Banana Spider. The female is a more robust spider with shorter legs. This is the spider that is responsible for the rumors that tarantulas come into the U.S. with bananas because they are often spotted emerging frrom a bunch of bananas in a fruit store in the North. This Giant Crab Spider is usually the culprit. The species is found in all tropical regions, its range extending clear around the world. It is very abundant in all tropical seaport towns, being transported in trading vessels. Its chief food is cockroaches. The female carries her eggs beneath her body. According to this site it is also called the Huntsman Spider.

I have very small bugs in my flour products and cereals as well as gummy bears. What are they and how can I get rid of them. I cleaned my pantry and threw out all that was infected and now they are back again within weeks.

Pantry Beetles will infest many types of organic foods in the pantry. They will infest all grain products but will also get into spices and candies. The adult beetles are pollen eaters and it is the grubs that eat the food in the pantry. Though you cleaned out all the infested items, it is possible that some adult beetles remained in the house and reinfested the new food you bought. They will also get into nuts, pastas, flour, noodles, cereals, and on and on. You pretty much need to remove everything and clean thoroughly. It is also possible to buy infested food at the market.

I came across a walking stick insect while pruning my fruitless cherry tree. I live in Maryland and was wandering what is the specific epithet and if there are any hazards with handling them ?
Below is a photo.
Steve Hawk

Hi steve,
We just recieved a letter from a reader in Florida who was sprayed by a Two-lined Walkingstick, Anisomorpha buprestoides. It seems this particular species has a defense mechanism that doesn’t do any permanent damage, but causes temporary vision problems and discomfort. A northern species, Diapheromera femorata, is fond of cherry as well as some other tree. Unlike some of the tropical species, it is wingless. To our knowledge, they are harmless, though they feed on the leaves of trees. Rarely are they numerous enough to cause any damage to the tree. They are slow moving herbivorous insects that are usually found on trees or shrubs. Many species are able to emit a foul smelling substance from the glands in the thorax. Unlike most insects, Walking Sticks are able to regenerate lost legs. The eggs are laid by simply scattering them to the ground, and when the egg laying females are plentiful, their group egg laying can sound like falling rain. The females are generally larger than the males.

I have no idea what has invaded my shower. I am a very clean housekeeper so this little bug has nothing to do with an unclean environment. I live on a lake and maybe that has something to do with it. Well, here goes the description. It is a very, very small black wormlike bug not even a 1/2″ long and about as big around as mechanical pencil lead. It gets into the edge of the shower and digs into the grout. I can pour clorox in the shower and they come out and die. If you do not kill all of them you will see a fat black knat like fly with big wings a few weeks later. I had the shower taken down and the shower pan liner replaced. Nothing was in that area. I am constantly pouring clorox and killing thesethings but will still see the knat and worm like bugs. I also have to replace the caulking in the shower frequently because they dig into it and using the clorox also eats it away.
Do you have any idea what I have and how to get rid of it?

Dear Virginia,
You have bathroom flies, Clogmia albipunctata, which belong to the family of Moth Flies, Psychodidae. You have it exactly right. The larval form lives in the organic muck which forms inside the drains, and the fact that you live so closely to a lake probably compounds your situation since they will also enter the home from the outside where they live in shallow pools and tree holes. Thoroughly cleaning your plumbing might help, but as long as you continue to kill the individuals you are finding, you will help to control the population.

I was cleaning my washroom today, and come to think of it I have seen one of these in my living room previously (crawling on my couch). These bugs are brown about the size of a grain of rice (but thinner), they look like they have 6 legs, and perhaps wings ( I have never seen them fly before). They are flat, and it looks like they have a shell, but they squish quite easily. Here’s the part that scared me, when I was cleaning the washroom, I sprayed some cleaner in the tub, got a drink and when I cam back, the bug was laying in the bottom of the tub, upon closer looking it had little claws or pinchers (kind of like a lobster). After doing some research I thought it was a pantry beetle, but I have never seen pictures of pantry beetles with pinchers.
I have attached a couple of pictures, hopefully they help.
Many thanks in advance,

Dear Ben,
You have killed a harmless Pseudoscorpion which belongs to the order Chelonethida or Pseudoscorpionida. They are also called Book Scorpions. They are small arachnids. They eat small insects hence are beneficial.