From the monthly archives: "January 2004"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

HELP! What Are These Bugs?!
Dear Bugman,
HELP! These bugs are driving me crazy trying to figure out what they are and how to get rid of them! They seem to be more of a nuisance to me more than anything because I do not know what they are and I cannot find any info on them to be able to know what they are. I keep finding them on our hardwood floor, mainly along the baseboards, in the hallway between our baby’s room and our room (which are right across from each other). We live in Columbia, SC.
The first time I ever saw one of these bugs was in my baby’s baby cereal box, which I then threw out the whole box after seeing that. After that I started storing her baby cereals in sealed tupperware containers. Then, not too long after that I found a couple of them on the kitchen counter. But, I haven’t seen any of them anywhere in the kitchen since then.
Ok, now I cannot find any in the kitchen at all. I’ve looked through our cabinets and cereals, (we do not have any flour), and I’ve also looked all through our pantry and cannot find any there either. The only place I’m finding them now is in the hallway where I told you, between the two rooms, closer to the baseboards. And I have found a couple on the bathroom floor also. There are a few on the floor in the linen closet, also closer to the baseboards, which is between the two bedrooms in the hallway where I keep finding them.
What really confused my husband and I about these bugs was that one time when we were going through things in our attic, we got out some older VHS video tapes and a few of these bugs had fallen out of the VHS tapes. Then my husband continued to keep knocking the video tapes on the floor and they just kept falling out of the tapes. They were all dead though. Finally, after so many of them, they stopped falling out.
Then when we brought down the box with our Christmas decorations in it, to our surprise, there were all these same little bugs (a whole bunch of them) stuck to, and stuck underneath, the masking tape on the outside of the box. Yuck!!! I kept thinking "Why are these things so attracted to the masking tape like this?!" I’ve attached a few pics of these little creatures that are on my last nerve, one of the pics being of them stuck on the masking tape. So, obviously they’re in the attic also.
Our neighbors have them in their cupboards every now and then. They call them Weevils, but I don’t think that’s what they are. I’ve been looking all over the internet trying to figure out what these things are and I cannot find anything that looks like these bugs. They are like tiny little brownish beetle looking bugs.
I don’t see how they can be Pantry Beetles, because I haven’t been able to find any in the kitchen anywhere. They are driving me crazy, because everytime I pick up the ones that I keep finding on the floor in the hallway between the bedrooms, a few hours later a couple more have showed up around the same spots. And you know, they don’t move unless I nudge them a little.
Thank you,
Seriously Curious

Dear Seriously Curious,
You do have Pantry Beetles, but there are many species, some of which are weevils. You might have the Merchant Grain Beetle, Oryzaephilus mercator, or a member of the genus Cathartus. These beetles are especially a problem in the humid South. These are small elongate reddish beetles that feed on grain and dried fruits in the larval stage, but when they mature, they fly away to a new food source, often pollen. You might have large numbers of adults congregating where they think they can get access to the outdoors, hence the attic. Aslo sticky tape will trap them like fly paper. The larvae will also eat dried pet food or even a forgotten box of cookies in some seldom used closet. Could someone in the house be hiding (hoarding) food and have forgotten it? If they are really that plentiful, you might want to fumigate, though we believe that could do more harm than good.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Hi, I Live in West Los Angeles/Santa Monica area and this morning – New Year’s Day, while blissfully watching the Rose Parade on TV with morning cuppa java this noise catches my ear – and my cat’s ear. It sounded like a small ornament had dropped off the Christmas Tree onto the window sill. Upon investigation it is a really horrid bug. Looks a bit like a cricket, 6legs, antenna and beige body with black spots. Body in length is approx 1″.I have seen crickets crawl, they’re slow and lumbering, so I was a bit relived that it wasn’t going to attack me in any way. I got the vacuum and prepared to suck the icky crawler into the swirling vortex of death. Wrong! The thing can fly! I lost it – both literally and figuratively. I got near it with the hose when it took off and disappeared into the darkness behind the tree and the cat and I quickly retreated to the safety of the bedroom to regroup and formulate a strategy on capturing the winged beast. I was afraid to leave it alone for too long lest I lose track of it in the house (not acceptable) so I grabbed the cat and we moved back in to the battle zone to wait for its reappearance. Sure enough within minutes it flew toward the window and banged into it with a loud “thwack”. I did manage to get it sucked up in the vacuum but it was still inside the plastic container crawling around lively in the dust. I thought it would surely die with the trip up into the vacuum, or choke on the dust but it didn’t. I looked closely at the bug and your site, but didn’t see any of the bugs that resemble this thing. I dumped it into a plastic trash bag tied it tightly and took it out of the house. Yeech! What is that thing? Did it come in on the tree or is it local to the area and how can I avoid seeing one ever again in my home? Need a glass of champagne now to steady my jangled nerves and will hope to hear from you when you catch up on emails.
Bugged by the Bug on the Westside

Dear Bugged,
Your letter is great, but lacking in some helpful identification details. I’m going to take a wild guess and say perhaps a beetle, the Eucalyptus Tree Borer. Here is a photo of a dead one sent last year.

Ed. Note: We just received this information:
(08/09/2005) identifications Hello – I was recently shown your site, and it is excellent. My specialization is longhorned beetles, and in cruising around I notice a number of incomplete or uncertain IDs for this family. I don’t know if you are interested in receiving this sort of input, but if you are, I offer the following additions to your identifications.
The eucalyptus borer in this photo (and also shown elsewhere on one of the other pages of your site) is Phoracantha recurva, nor P. semipunctata. Both species now have become well-established in California. Cheers.
Frank Hovore

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

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.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Hello, Bugman;
We have several houseplants: jades, aloes, hibiscus, etc, which seem to be attracting or generating extremely tiny flying black gnats or fleas that can barely be seen. We have washed down the plants to no avail; the almost invisible slowly flying bugs are still showing up in many areas of the house. Any idea of what this pest is and how we can control or eradicate it? Thanks so much for your help!
T.E. Boston

Dear T.E. Boston,
My money is on the Black Gnat, Bradysia impatiens. This is a type of root gnat from the Family Sciaridae. The adults are the tiny black gnats that flit in your face while you are watching television and that always seem to get stuck in fresh paint, writes Hogue. He continues "The larva lives in decaying plant material, such as compost, peat, and sphagnum; it also commonly infests the roots and stems of various herbaceous plants. The insects may develop in the media used for potted plants, which explains its mysterious appearance indoors." A mild soapy water used to water the plants might help. Other natural methods to try are an infusion of crushed garlic in water, or nicotine in water. Try soaking some cigarette butts in water and using that when you need to water the plants. The same can be done with the garlic infusion

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination