From the monthly archives: "December 2003"

unknown Beetle
Dear Bugman,
Today I found this exquisite beetle in my back yard, unfortunately something else ha d found him first. : ( I was wondering if you would be able to tell me what kind of beetle he is as no-one I know has seen one like him before. I’ve included a couple of photographs below but I couldn’t find a way to make them any clearer with my camera. I hope they are okay. Thanks,

Hi JP,
Though you did not indicate where you are located, since the Fiddler Beetle, Eupoecila australasiae, is an Australian species, we are deducing you are somewhere down under. Fiddler Beetles can have bright green markings or golden yellow markings. These scarab beetles feed on nectar, often from eucalyptus trees, and the beetle grubs feed on rotting wood.

Can Silverfish hop?
First, I’d like to compliment your site – very well done and informative!
My husband and I have a recent infestation in our bathroom of a small bug that we thought could be Silverfish. After reading your page on Silverfish and looking at the photo, however, I’m not certain that this is what we have.
These bugs are about 1/8 of an inch long, have antennae on the front and shorter antennae on the back – as best as I can tell there are only two on the back end. They have lighter colored stripes running horizontally across a very thin body. And these bugs hop, as much as about a foot. We find that they congregate near water – especially under and around wet flip flops worn in the shower. Could these be Silverfish? Or are they another bug?
Thanks for any help you may be able to give,
Julia Bell
Columbia, SC

Hi Julia,
There is a relative of the silverfish known as the Jumping Bristletail, Family Machilidae, but my money is on a type of Springtail, Order Collembola. They like damp areas and can get quite numerous.

Thanks for your quick response! And thanks for what seems to be the right diagnosis. Now we’ll get to work on getting rid of these guys!
My husband and I are very impressed with your website – our new "house and garden field guide."
All the best,
Julia Bell

Here is the picture of the beetles we need to ID…
Not sure is this is a male female pair as they look a little different.
Thank you…and a big thank you for the web site you sent we are enjoying it.
Jeffrey & Margaret

Dear Jeffrey and Margaret,
You have a species of Carrion or Burying Beetle, Family Silphidae. According to the Dillons, they are “Usually large, loosely constructed beetles, that have the body black, sometimes ornamented with yellow or red. … Decaying animal matter, especially dead birds, mice, and snakes, is the usual habitat of these species, though some occur on decaying fungi. The eggs are deposited in the bodies of small mammals or fragments of decaying flesh, which are then buried by the adults to a depth of from several inches to a foot. Two beetles working together can bury a mouse or other small animal very rapidly.” Eric writes to us that: “The burying or carrion beetles are Necrodes surinamensis, male on left with the enlaged hind legs, female on the right.”

I found your site today and I really enjoyed it. Reading about many of the "lil critters" reminded me of something i saw on a show on tv once. Now, first off, i saw this a long time ago, and do not remember the story exactly, but i think i can give a fairly good idea of what i saw.This program was telling the story of a couple who was having some sort of problem, with the wife waking up, in near convulsions, and requiring several hospitalizations. The story ended up saying that it was traced back to an insect. I do not remember the actual name, but i believe they called them kissing bugs, and i "think" the area it happened in was Washington state, but i am not sure. They said something to the effect that the bugs would crawl out at night, and go up on their bed. Then they for some reason either bit/left a toxic substance on the woman, who had major reactions to it. I am curious if you have any idea if this was actually a possibly true occurrence, or if this was simply made-up hype that i am poorly remembering.
BTW, very nice site. excellent info, and nice, easy to navigate site layout. Keep up the good work!
frank in oklahoma.
P.S. I enjoyed reading some of the references to our lovely little oklahoma scorpions and centipedes.The scorpions here are not really that bad, mostly small, 2-5 inch (tail included) tan or dark ones. Stings are somewhat painful, roughly like being stuck with a needle. The centipedes are abit worse though, as I have had painful encounters with both sets of critters 🙂 One thing I learned a year or two ago that you might find interesting. Scorpions actually have 2 venoms, or at least some species do. It is based on a salt molecule. One is for defense and one is for killing. the defense one, is actually the more painful of the two, and is used more commonly, as the killing venom is more "taxing" for the scorpion to produce. I’ll see if i can find the link to the report i saw this info in.found one link, i have a better one, but will have to look around to find it.

Hi Frank,
Thank you for the nice letter. The story about the Kissing Bugs is true. They are true bugs and members of the Assassin Bug family Reduviidae. In Los Angeles we have a species called the Western Cone-Nose Bug, Triatoma protracta. According to Hogue, our favorite expert, "The Western Cone-nose Bug can be readily recognized by its medium size (5/8 to 3/4 in. long) and solid blackish or dark brown color. The abdomen has flared sides and is compressed in the center. This bug has a bad reputation, rightfully earned. It belongs to a group of bugs called Kissing Bugs (from their habit of biting sleeping persons about the lips; they are also known as Bellows Bugs, Walpai Tigers (in Arizona), Cross Bugs, Big Bedbugs, China Bedbugs, or Sacred Bugs). The normal food of kissing bugs is the blood of vertebrate animals, including humans: among the many species in the American tropics are some that act as vectors of Chagas’ Disease, a serious malady caused by a trypanosome protozoan similar to that which causes African Sleeping Sickness. … The bug’s saliva contains substances foreign to the human system and capable of causing a serious allergic reaction. The symptoms range from simple itching, severe swelling, joint pain, nausea, chills, and dizziness to anaphylactic shock. Persons exhibiting severe allergic symptoms after a bite by one of these bugs are advised to consult a physician immediately and also to capture the bug and keep it alive for diagnosis. It should be emphasized, however, that the bug’s bite causes little or no reaction in most individuals; like the sting of the Honey Bee, it is not to be unduly feared except by a few especially sensitive individuals."

I am 24 but back when I was about 8 or so I remember seeing a worm or caterpillar with what seemed to be a hammerhead shark-shaped head. I have attached a really lame MS paint drawing of what I saw. I was hoping you could let me know if anything like this exsists or if my mom put LSD in my Snackpac. Thanks
Jade Shiroma

Hi Jade,
You left out some crucial details, like the size of the worm, but I think I have a good idea what you saw. There is a species of planaria or flatworm known as the Arrow-headed Flatworm, Bipalium kewensis. According to Hogue, "The species is "hammer-headed"; the head is shovel-shaped (wider than the body), and there are numerous minute eyes along its border."

Thanks so much, I am going to go find a picture!

Hi, Your website is awsome, and answers many questions. Anyway, I thought I would share a termite (I think a termite?) horror story. You may not be able to post it as it is a bit graphic but I think it is a great story and a very important PSA for any woman with termites in her house. Anyway, when I was about 12 or 13 I started using tampons. As any girlcan tell you, when you first start you can’t do it very well. So I was in the bathroom (of our termite infested house) wrestling with this damn thing which I couldn’t (THANKFULLY) get in and finally gave up. Blaming the product, I put it up to my face and popped the cotton part out of the plastic applicator to see if maybe there was something wrong with it. Well,to my horror there were maggots (my biggest fear) writhing all over the cotton, in and out of little holes they had made. I threw it across the room as I assume anyone would and then realized after the shock of maggots in my face, that I had just been trying to shove that thing in myself. After thinking about it I realized that the grubs were most likely not maggots but termite larva, we had just had a “termite night” the day before, where the adult termites fly all over the place and you have to sit around with the lights out. I do not use tampons anymore without first inspecting the cotton part THOROUGHLY. So the moral of this story is to all women, pop the cotton out of the tampon before using to make sure you are not disturbing anyone’s meal.
Jade Shiroma

Dear Jade,
While your story is truly horrific, I don’t believe you had termite larvae eating the cotton of the tampon. Termite young are cared for within the colony. A more likely suspect are certain moths or beetles that eat natural fibers.

That makes so much more sense. Thanks and I will continue to tell everybody about your site. Thanks so much.