From the monthly archives: "February 2004"

what are palmetto bugs and where did they get that name??????????

Palmetto bugs are very large, flying cockroaches. They are found in warmer climates, like Florida, and they get their name because they are often found near palmetto trees.

is there anyway to get rid of them?

Since they live outdoors, and can fly from location to location, mass annihilation of the species is the only way to keep them out of your yard. Since this is not feasable, and since they are not really pests, just a frighteningly large annoyance, I suggest learning to ignore them.

Hi – Sorry I don’t have a picture to send, but this all happened far too fast for me to grab a camera. I was setting in a chair on one side of the room very early in the morning, when I noticed something moving near the front door. When I got up to check it out, it turned out to be a spider like I have never seen before. It was a light brown color,with a darker brown abdomen, and almost looked like it had hair growing on it’s abdomen. And it was quite large, about the size of a quarter. The strangest thing about this spider was, when I opened the door to shoo it out, hundreds of baby spiders jumped off of the abdomen and scurried in all directions. They were too small for me to get a good look at and moving far to fast. I was living in So CA at the time, and I have spent at least five or six years trying to find out what this spider was. Can you help out?
Thanks in advance,

Hi Linda,
Female Wolf Spiders, Family Lycosidae, carry their eggs around. When the eggs hatch, the young spiders, called spiderlings, ride around on their mother’s back for a short time. These are hunting spiders which do not build webs. The females are highly maternal. You obviously caught them the minute the apron strings were cut. Congratulations on seeing a wonder of nature that obviously left an impression. Here is an image I downloaded from a Florida website. Wolf Spiders of different species are found worldwide.

Hi Bugman!
My name is Cynthia I live just outside of Stuttgart, Germany. September 2003 we moved into a new apartment. After a few weeks, the outside windows were covered by dozens of ‘stink bugs’. They look like the ones I remember from my childhood growing up in Charlotte, NC. I’ve attached a photo. They did everything they could to get into the apartment and we tried everything to keep them out. The last tenant said he never saw such bugs during his two years living here. During the Winter months, we did not see any of the bugs. This first week in Feb. has been quite warm and now every morning I have to remove 2-5 bugs from the apartment. The ‘What’s That Bug’ site says these bugs are plant eaters, but I have not found any on my house plants. This house does have lots of wood paneling. Could that be attracting them? Any suggestions on how to keep them out? They are a real pest and really make my skin crawl!
Thanks for any suggestions you can give!

Dear Cynthia,
You do have a Stink Bug, Family Pentatomidae. They can be recognized by the shieldlike shape and the large triangular scutullum, the posterior portion of the thorax. They are plant eaters, for the most part, though some prey on other insects. The mouthparts are designed for piercing and sucking, so you won’t notice any chewed leaves. If the winter weather is warming, they could have roused themselves from hibernation and are seeking a new place to finish wintering over, hence their attraction to your house. They are seeking shelter, not food, so it is difficult to keep them out without making your house inhospitable. Sorry, I have no control advice.

Friend or Foe?
Hi Bugman!
We moved into an older house a few months ago and periodically, even in the dead of Canadian winter, I find these beetles wandering in the house. These guys can fly and sound quite loud when they do. I’m hoping they aren’t damaging in that they eat wood! Can you identify the species and tell me more about them?
Thanks from the Toronto area,

Dear Ursula,
You have a Western Conifer Seed Bug. The Western Conifer Seed Bug, Leptoglossus occidentalis was first described in California in 1910 and prior to 1969, it was only known in the Western U.S. Then it started to move East. By the 1970’s it was established in Wisconsin and Illinois, and by the mid 1980’s was found in Minnesota, Michigan and Ontario. In 1990 this species was collected in New York State and in 1992 it was found in Pennsylvania. It is also present in Mexico. The Western Conifer Seed Bug is a True Bug from the Family Coreidae, the Big Legged Bugs or Leaf Footed Bugs. It is a pest on conifer trees. It will not harm the wood in your house. They are seeking shelter for the winter. Like many true bugs, including Stink Bugs and Box Elder Bugs, they seek a comfortable place to hibernate.

Thank you so much! It’s reassuring to know that we don’t have some sort of wood boring insect manifestation chewing away the framing of our new home! But seriously, I like knowing all the creatures I live with, invited or not, and what their living habits are. Hopefully, our Western conifer seed bugs will be returning outside come the warmer weather.
Thanks again and have a great, great day!

I spotted this pretty spider while on vacation in Kauai, Hawaii. It was in the bushes at the entrance to Alllerton botanical gardens on the south side of the island. The web was approx 3′-5′ wide with a thicker zig-zag of silk running through the center. The spider was about 2" wide (legtip to leg tip). I’m curous what type of spider it is and what purpose the zig-zag in the web serves.
Thanks, Erin

Dear Erin,
You have a type of Garden Spider from the family Argiopinae, the Agriopes. It is a close relative of our mainland species, Argiope aurantia, the Golden Orb Weaver, and could possibly be a color variation from Hawaii. The zig-zag design in the web is called the stabilimentum and it is believed to be a camouflague mechanism since the spiders often position themselves aligned with it. Here is one of our favorite websites with amazing photos of other garden spiders, including an exact double of your specimen.

What this bug?
Dear Bugman,
First, congrats on a great site!
Attached are two closeups of a bug, possibly a bed bug, found when stripping the sheets from our mattress. (We do this every week, but this is the only ‘visitor’ we’ve ever seen). Bug was not dead, but just lying there waving its little legs slowly. Could be because we had had a flea infestation (we>lying there waving its little legs slowly. Could be because we had had a flea infestation (we>sprayed the house and mattress with flea spray last year. Any way here it is…

Dear Richard,
I really wasn’t positive, so I sought out a true expert, Weiping at the Museum of Natural History in Los Angeles. Here is his answer:
“Thank you very much for your image. This is a Thylodrias larva (Coleoptera: Dermestidae: Thylodrias). It is very common in Los Angeles area. I collected it many times in our museum. Hopefully, the information will help you. Sincerely, Weiping”
I can add the Dermestidae is a family of beetles known as Carpet Beetles or Buffalo Bugs. They are fond of eating skins, furs, woolen materials and dried animal matter, and as a family, are the bane of the entomologist since they can quickly devour a prized insect collection.

Many thanks for the reply – I’m greatly relieved that its only a carpet beetle, and not something worse! Attached the second picture, which was of the head/jaws of the grub.
Best Regards, Richard

Dear Richard,
Thank you for the additional photo. I did find some additional information for you. The beetle Thylodrias contractus does not have the typical form of most Carpet Beetles. It is more elongate with long legs and antennae. I did find an interesting anecdote in Lutz’ book Field Book of Insects. He writes: “In 1908 Mrs. Slosson, the author of such charming stories as ‘Fishing Jimmy,’ published a description of a strange beetle that was eating her collection of insects. She playfully called it ‘Ignotus aenigmaticus.’ This name was in proper form and by the rules of the game remained the scientific name of the beetle until the discovery was made that the beetle was an introduction from Transcaucasia and had a prior name. It is now Thylodrias contractus. It eats like a Dermestid but does not look like one. The female is wingless and the male has no hind wings.” The beetle was originally described in Transcaucasia by Motschulsky.

Thanks again Daniel – two further questions,
1. do you have a picture of an adult?
2. Will my bug make it onto your website?

Hi Richard,
I have your letter ready for posting, but the site is currently down due to heavy traffic. I was expecting it to be up today, but still no luck. I know the site is up on the east coast, since I began getting additional letters. Check in a day or two. I have a photo of an adult and will attach it. It was previously identified only generally, but now there is an exact species name. Thank you for your interest.