From the monthly archives: "March 2004"

In my home one day I spotted a horrible bug. It was six inches long,gray and looked like it had hair for legs and was incredibly fast.It look like this:
Katherine Cohen

Hi Katherine,
You have made a wonderful drawing of a House Centipede, Scutigera coleoptrata, though six inches is an exaggeration.

Dear Bug Man,
My son found some Hickory Tussock caterpillars last fall, which he put in his "bug box". We fed them and provided mulch, etc. One died, but the other survived and has been in its cocoon all winter. I have read they emerge in May or June. Is there any special care once they emerge and how soon should it be let out? And do these moths cause alot of damage to trees?
Thank you,

Dear Judy,
The Hickory Tussock Moth, Halisidota caryae, rarely is plentiful enough to do major damage to the Hickory trees it feeds upon. The adults, like many Tiger Moths, do not feed as adults. You can release the moth after its wings have fully expanded. It will fly when it is ready.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Vicki wrote to us about Stoneflies and included this intriguing bit of information: "The highlight of my day, though (other than seeing an otter) was finding a cocoon of a Polyphemus Moth, which I took a picture of and left to dangle patiently on its limb for a few more months." We requested that she send the photo.

More than happy to. This cocoon is hanging right over the creek (Tuckahoe Creek on the Eastern Shore of Maryland). Hopefully when the moth emerges, he’ll crawl UP.

Dear Bugman,
What is the scientific name for rollie pollies and what do they eat? Are the on the website?
Thanks. Mom Adams

Dear Mom Adams,
We just got a question about Pill Bugs or Sow Bugs, which are Isopods, not true insects. The common Pill Bug goes by the scientific name Armadillidium vulgare. They are omniverous and eat young and decaying plant material. We had not heard of the common name Rollie Pollie until our student Betina mentioned it. Thank you for reaffirming that local term.

Hello –
I’ve just spent a fascinating hour roaming around your site. I’m hoping you can help me identify a bug I photographed on one of my crabapple trees last summer here in Manitoba. It seems similar to some of the assassin bugs, but I haven’t been able to find anything quite like it. I have attached a photo.
Thanks in advance,

Hi Doug,
Yours is one of the most beautiful photographs we have ever received. I can tell you this. You have an image of a True Bug or Hemipteran. According to Weiping at the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History, it is probably a Broad Headed Bug, Family Coriscidae. Even though they aren’t true Stink Bugs, they often stink worse than members of that family. I’m sorry we are unable to give you an exact species name, but we will continue to work on it. I found one insect online that seems to resemble your photo. It is Megalotomus quinquespinosus.

Hi Daniel – Thanks for looking at it. I really appreciate the info. Thanks as well for your kind words about the photo on your website. I got a nikon cp990 about a year and a half ago and I’ve been really enjoying its closeup capabilities (If you ever need a few dozen photos of grasshoppers…). Thanks again, – Doug

Dear Bugman,
Hi. I’m getting married May 1, 2004 in lovely N. Virginia and am planning an outside reception. Someone mentioned recently that the secadas are due to come out this year and they start right around that time. Please advise if you think this is the case or if there are certain treatments you can have done or certain candles or lights you can have to turn them away. Please help me 🙂 BTW – what exactly is a secada?
Many thanks.

Dear MK,
According to our sources, Brood X of the 17 Year Cicada or Periodical Cicada, Magicicada septendecim, is due to emerge this year. They are noisy, but will not attack your wedding guests. Nothing will keep them away. Here is information I am reprinting from the National Geographic website:

“Get ready, Brood X is coming. This May billions of black, shrimp-size bugs with transparent wings and beady red eyes will carpet trees in the U.S. from the eastern seaboard west through Indiana and south to Tennessee. By the end of June they’ll be gone, not to be heard from or seen again for 17 years. “Many people view them with horror or as an aberration and don’t appreciate that they are a natural part of our eastern forests,” said John Cooley, a cicada expert at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. The bugs belong to the largest group, or brood, of periodical cicadas-insects that spend most of their lives as nymphs, burrowed underground and sucking sap from tree roots. They emerge once every 17 years, transform into adults, do the business of reproduction, and then die.”

Thanks. The Washington Post and NYT have both printed recent articles.
Thanks again.