From the monthly archives: "January 2004"

Great site!
Have a question about black widows. When we lived in the New Orleans area, we saw several spiders that were black and shaped just like a black widow, but had red markings on the top side of the abdomen.
I have not been able to find anything online that resembles them , and thought you might be able to help.
Mary P

Hi Mary,
First, the red hourglass is on the under side of the abdomen. There is a spider known as the False Widow, Steatoda grossa. Both the true and false widows belong to the Comb Footed Spider Family Theridiidae. The False Widow is a beneficial spider, reported to prey on its more poisonous relative. It also eats Sow Bugs. It is a hardier spider than the true Black Widow. We find them in our yard all the time, and will take a photo the next time.

My five year old is in kindergarten and LOVES spiders. He has quite an impressive collection of toy spiders. He wants to identify them for a science fair. I have managed to find 2/3 of them in online photos and books, but the rest remain a mystery. There is a chance that the remaining ones are not actual representations of any real existing spiders. Is there any chance you’d be willing to give these spiders your best guess or just flat out say that there are no real spiders that look like this. I can lay them on my scanner and send a photo of them. I can completely understand if you don’t offer this type of help.
Clueless mother to a future arachnologist

Dear Jody,
By all means, do send the image.

Here’s the picture of them.
Thanks SO much! 🙂

Dear Jody,
These are definitely fantasy spiders, but several appear to be based on actual species.
The green spider in the upper left might be a Green Lynx Spider, Peucetia viridans. The small spider on the upper right seems to resemble a Jumping Spider, Family Salticidae. The yellow spider on the lower right could be a garden spider called the Golden Orb Weaver, Argiope aurantia. The middle spider on the right is most assuredly a Crab Spider, Family Thomisidae. The spider on the lower left seems to resemble a type of Fishing Spider of the genus Dolomedes. The remaining two spiders, the red and purple, resemble nothing I can call to mind. Here are the five spiders I have mentioned:

Thank you so much for your time and help!
He’ll love the photos you sent too.
He helped me search through a ton of webpages looking for pictures of
"his spiders" and we also looked through about 10 books from the library.
He just loves spiders.

Greetings from Texas, Mr. Bugman!
I have recently found a colony of pretty little insects in my garden, but I don’t know what they are. They have the body that reminds me of a mantis without the bobbley head. The 3/4″ slender body is bright red with tiny white spots, and the legs and antennae are black. Hopefully these graceful looking little creatures won’t be harmful to my flower garden.
–De Smith
New Braunfels, TX

Dear De Smith,
My first inclination was to say you might have Assassin Bugs, probably nymphs. I cannot give an exact species. We just got a photo of a young assasin bug that fits your description rather accurately. Here it is. these are beneficial. They are predators that will eat harmful insects.

Yes!! That’s what we have in our garden. Thanks so much for your research!

Hi Bugman,
We just want to say THANKS! We found a most unusual-looking tiny bug while vacuuming our living room wood floor. It looked like a tick, but with crab-claws! Afraid it was some sort of parasite, we killed it. Then I searched in Google for "bug that looks like a crab or scorpion" and found your site – THANK YOU for putting our minds at ease, though now I feel guilty for killing it, since I found it’s a harmless Pseudoscorpion! We have a very old house with a stone foundation; we aren’t going to be bug-free so we keep spiders in our unfinished basement as a peaceful co-existence. We know they eat smaller disease-carrying insects, so they are good bugs. While we killed this little guy out of fear, we won’t kill any others we see. We’ll just relegate them to the basement.
Very cool site; thanks again.

Dear Donna,
I’m happy we could be of service.

A few days ago I had a very uncomfortable experience with what I now think was an American cockroach. It seemed to me to be about two inches long and an inch wide and very shiny. And very aggressive! It boldly scurried up to me two times, both times I shooed it away. Then it actually followed me aggressively as I backed away from it. I didn’t want to step on it – too yucky. I just wanted to get away form it. I finally kicked away and it hit a wall and ended up on it’s back. I had a good look at it and it really was huge. I’d never seen a roach like this before. This all took place in a washroom in a train station. I found the experience unnerving. I’ve never known cockroaches to actually chase after people. I know it sounds laughable, but it’s true – the damn thing actually chased me! > >Is this normal for American cockroaches? Or I am now some kind of roach-magnet?
thanks ……… Terrified in Toronto

Dear Terrified in Toronto,
Roaches are not aggressive in the manner you described. I doubt that it was attacking you. More
likely, it was seeking shelter in your shadow. They do like dark places you know. Rest assured you are not a roach magnet. It does sound like an American Cockroach, which get very large and often frequent bathrooms. We have big ones in the basement bathrooms and darkroom of a college where I teach in Los Angeles.

We live in Columbia, SC. The first picture is a beetle type bug I found crawling on the bottom of our entertainment center in our living room tonight. What is this bug?
The other pic is of a little tiny guy I found on our kitchen floor. It reminds me of a baby rollie pollie. It’s real tiny. It’s tan in color and looks like it has little hairs all over it’s little body and it does have some little legs underneath. It’s real weird though because, especially if it’s turned upside down or on it’s side, it bends it’s back backwards almost in half a lot. What’s this bug?
We keep our house so clean, so these little bugs I am finding are driving me crazy because I don’t know where they are coming from and why they’re in the house!
Help Bugman! I found 2 different bugs in our house in one night! I can’t stand it! Yikes!
Seriously Curious

Hi again Bugman,
This is a picture of a little tiny bug I had found in our kitchen last night on the floor that I emailed you about earlier this morning. We live in Columbia, SC.I noticed when looking at this little guy closer under a magnifying glass that he only has 3 pairs of legs (6 legs). He’s got such fuzzy little hairs all over him that we thought he had more legs than that. The bottom end of it’s body is darker than the rest of it’s body and it does not have any legs in that area. It has a segmented body and when it’s crawling it’s body moves in an accordion style.Hope this helps you more with this little guy. What’s this bug?
Thanks Bugman!
Seriously Curious

Dear Seriously Curious,
My better guess on the grub is a pantry or larder beetle, a Dermestid, which infests stored food, hence its appearance in the kitchen. I would put my money on Thylodrias contractus. You have an adult specimen as well as the larval form.