From the yearly archives: "2003"

We have a mulched bed outside by the patio of our classroom. When it rains very hard these very tiny flea-like bugs come out in droves. From far away they look like patches of blue-gray clay. From close the patch is moving with millions of tiny shiny little bugs. What are they? Thanks for any help you can give us.
-Ms. Urso’s Class

Dear Ms. Urso’s Class,
I’m guessing you have Springtails, a group of primitive insects that resemble fleas. According to Essig in The Insects and Mites of Western North America, "Some are very small, almost microscopic. They are found in rotten logs, wet leaf mold, and in the soil where the immature stages live mostly hidden from the light. The adults appear usually during the winter months when great numbers may be seen on the surface of standing pools of water or on the snow from whence comes the name snow fleas. So abundant are they at times as to completely cover and color the snow."

(5/12/03)This just happened recently with the oncoming of Spring I think. I recently moved into my apartment a few months ago. I have seen no sign of bugs in my house, except for fire beetles, which really don’t upset me, they are in the trees outside of my bedroom window and are natives to the area. I had some plant insect spray that took care of them, I haven’t seen any in my house since.
But just the last few weeks, there are little bugs in my bathtub, about the size of small black ants, if not smaller. This bothers me. I have been spraying them with insect spray, they will go away for a short period, but then there will be more in there. I sprayed some of the insect spray down the drain. When I spray them, they hop, they don’t fly. They don’t have the ability to seem to fly, but they can jump a fairly large distance for their size. I have a window that is in the wall of my shower/bathtub and I am wondering if they are coming from the outside. When I sprayed the cracks of the window they seemed to be gone for a few days, but just today and the day before they seem to be back. There are usually two or three of them just crawling around in the bathtub. Whatever they are, I don’t like them and I was wondering if they are baby roaches or something. I am in Salt Lake City, don’t know if they are some native mite to the area. Our building is made of brick. I am in an apartment building. The landlords are neat freaks that do inspections for cleanliness, so I don’t think that anyone would stand for roaches here. The building is older though. There is no bugs in my kitchen area or the rest of the house. I did noticed that the window is facing the same side as my bedroom window where the trees are that the fire beetles were getting in, they live on that tree out there. It also faces that tree. But in any case, I am trying to kill them or get rid of them. Do you have any tips for me?
Thank you,
Tamara Wright

Dear Tamara,
You might have springtails, order Collembola, which are minute insects, less than 1/8 inch long, that according to Hogue, "derive their name from the curious method of locomotion of many species, in which the furcula, a tail like appendage on the underside of the abdomen, is extended and snaps against the substratum, propelling the insect upward." They are usually. seen in a group, and resemble fleas when they spring into motion by sudden exposure to light. They like damp places, are common in lawns, in the soil, in grass clippings and compost piles, wherever it is damp and humid.

I need to have this identified!!
Hi! I live in Minnesota and yesterday my husband found a really strange bug inour shower wall. He saved it in a cup for me….it is really SMALL. I do not have a digital camera, so I will describe it was best as I can.
It is very small, dark brown. It resembles a tick, but not that flat. The body shape is round and oval, it has 4 small legs on each side of its body. The really wierd thing is the rest of it’s body. It has these REALLY long front legs (in addition to the 4 legs on each side) with these scorpion -like claws/pinchers. There are no antennae. I have been keeping in it a saline solution, but it will not die!!! We have never seen anything like this before and hope there are no more where it came from! HA!
This is how big it is: — That is the total length of the body.
Thank you!!! Anne Wallman
Stewartville, MN

Hi Anne,
You have a Pseudoscorpion.

Dear Bugman,
My roomate and I recently opened up a chocolate bar only to find a fat worm/maggot had eaten a hole right through the bar. The chocolate was in a box full of more chocolate bars that are maybe a year old. We were totally disgusted, and when we opened up the remaining bars, we found a few more that also had the worms. The worms had eaten holes right in the chocolate and on some, they seemed to shave the top of the bars off – there was chocolate shavings on the surface. Some of the worms looked like they had spiny tails, but it was hard to tell for the others whether they also had the spines. Do you know what kind of worms are these? And how did they get into our chocolate??

Dear Kate,
Pantry beetles are known to infest chocolate. The immature beetles are wormlike grubs, much as you describe.

I have NO idea how it got into my kitchen but there it was this morning and my skin is still crawling thinking of it. It’s under a glass bowl right now. I don’t know how to get rid of it. My last encounter with one in the garden several years ago was horrible and I couldn’t kill it! My nightmare now is wondering how the hell this huge thing got into the house when there are no visible holes or gaps under doors…it’s as big as a small mouse – and we blocked the mouse access holes over a year ago, I thought!
Freaked of Laurel Canyon

Dear Freaked,
Potato Bugs are digging insects that might have gotten access through burrowing. They are also nocturnal and might enter the home through an opened door at night when you don’t notice them skulking about. They are harmless, but do have powerful jaws that can inflict a painful bite. They seem to have universal horror appeal.

Thank you! I steeled myself and got it outside last night! Way away from the house! They look like something under a magnoscope which has escaped and is giant!

What’s are these bugs? All were found on Fort Bragg, NC My daughter and I are creating a site where we are doing an online bug collection. I have tried many sources to identify these bugs to no avail. Do you know what any of these are?

Hi Lynette,
Congratulations on your site. This is the pupa of a Ladybird Beetle, commonly known as a Ladybug, though they are really beetles. There is an interesting theory about the meaning of the children’s song, according to Lutz. He writes “Many of us have quoted: ‘Lady-bird, lady-bird! Fly away home. Your house is on fire. Your children do roam.’ Some of us add: ‘Except little Nan, who sits in a pan weaving gold laces as fast as she can.’ What is it all about? Many Lady-bird (Coccinellid) larva eat Aphids and this rhyme started in the Old country, where they burn the hop vines after the harvests. These vines are usually full of aphids and coccinellid ‘children.’ A Nan who can not roam but sits in a pan weaving gold laces is … a yellow pupa.” (ed note: your pupa is of the black and red variety) “Why ‘Lady-bird’ or ‘Lady Beetles?’" continues Lutz, "That goes back still further to the Middle Ages when these beneficial insects were dedicated to the virgin and were the ‘Beetles of Our Lady.'”

I found these flat(they almost look like ticks) brown bugs living in the seams of and on my box spring part of the mattress set. When you squash them they’re full of blood. What are they?!

This is bad. They are bedbugs. Yes they really do exist. According to Borror and DeLong in their book An Introduction to the Study of Insects, “The Common Bed Bug, Cimex lectularius, are flat, oval bugs about 1/4 inch in length which feed by sucking blood from birds and mammals. The Common Bed Bug is frequently a serious pest in houses, hote.s, barracks, and other living quarters. It attacks animals other than man. The Common Bed Bug is largely nocturnal, and during the day hides in cracks in a wall, under the baseboard, in the springs of a bed, under the ridge of a mattress, under wallpaper, and in similar places. Its flatness makes it possible for it to hide in very small crevices. Bed Bugs may be transported from place to place on clothing, in luggage or furniture, or they may migrate from house to house. Bed Bugs are important primarily because of their irritating bites. They are apparently unimportant as disease vectors.” Here is a photo from Essig of a bedbug feeding on a finger.