From the monthly archives: "November 2004"

I hope you can venture a guess on this large spider, which turned up in my living room in Sonoma County California this morning. The picture is not great, but that’s a Pretenders LP cover. It was not particularly hairy, but did have lots of small spiny protrusions on the legs, and some fine cinamon colored hairs on some upper leg parts. Otherwise, all just sort of charcoal color, with no obvious markings, with the exception of a sort of radiation symbol mark on its thorax (not abdomen). At the end of the abdomen were two distinct downward pointing hooks, resembling fangs. This guy was ready for a fight.
Thanks, and once again, sorry for the poor picture, but I was hoping that region size and description would help.
Stefen Soltysiak
Director of Education
Rodney Strong Vineyards

Hi Stefen,
You shouldn’t be so harsh about the quality of your photograph. What is lacks in sharpness, it more than makes up for in creativity. You can’t miss with the Pretenders. You sure do have a Tarantula. Tarantulas belong to the family Theraphosidae. About 30 species of Tarantulas live within the United States, for the most part in the arid Southwest. Many California species belong to the genus Aphonopelma. Tarantulas often live in colonies in burrows in the ground. They often loose much of their hair just before molting. Though they rarely bite and have weak venom, it is possible for dislodged hairs to cause inflamation if they become imbedded in skin or eyes, a possible defense mechanism. The downward pointing hooks on the abdomen you mention are actually spinnerettes for spinning silk.

whats my bug
I have this bug in my house and I see the out side as well. They are usually under rocks and plant pots or in the hidden places like under a couch or chair. They have 6 legs on either side, 2 little hair-like spikes on it’s hind end, and anouther 2 anntenas on it’s head. They are always a grayish colour. These two pictures are the largist I have ever seen (aprox.1cm).

You have a terrestrial isopod commonly called a Pillbug, Sowbug or Rollie-Pollie. They are relatively benign, though they can get very numerous.

What is this?
Can you please help me identify this bug. They are found on the walls in my home. They crawl very fast and are very tiny. I took a picture next to a dime.
Thanks for any help
Jon Lindberg

Hi Jon,
You have a Dermestid Beetle larva which include household pests like carpet beetles and larder beetles.

I have these huge cricket like bugs in my bathroom and in my linen closet. They leave there nasty little dropping all over my clean sheets. I just walked into my bathroom and there was a HUGE one hanging out on my shower curtain. What the heck are these creatures??

You have a Camel Cricket or Cave Cricket from the Family Gryllacrididae. They are often found in basements and other damp places.

WTB what can you tell us about this bug.
We live in Long Beach California and it’s the second time that we have encounter this huge bug in exactly the same place in front of house. The first one just died on it’s on and the second one just seems to turn from being on its front to back.
Can you please tell us what it is.
Thank you for your help.
Eyal & Hadas

Dear Eyal and Hadas,
You have a Potato Bug or Jerusalem Cricket. They live underground and are sometimes driven to the surface after a heavy rain.

mystery cocoons
Dear Bugman,
I think I had better tell this one backwards: While we were out of town last mid-September, our friends babysat our 2 cocoons for us here in Atlanta, Georgia, and to everyone’s amazement, hatched an Ichneumon. They took a picture for us, which I’m afraid I don’t have. However, we checked our bug book, as well as your fabulous site, and are quite sure that’s what it was. Only one of the two cocoons hatched. We had thought (very wrongly) that the caterpillars were monarchs. They were striped, but later we realized that the stripe colors were slightly wrong. They were happily eating parsley (beginning where we found them at a plant nursery), which should have been our first clue that these weren’t really monarch caterpillars. Well, they ate and ate until at last they both curled upside down one evening. The next morning, we had two very strange looking cocoons, as you can see in the pictures I’ve attached. They were not hanging down, but propped right-side up, and leaning back against a thread of silk, with it’s ends attached to the twig like… struts? I think you can make it out in at least one picture (13cocoonsB.jpg). The cocoon that hatched has a hole in it. I am not up for cutting open the second one, but could perhaps be convinced if necessary. So, what in the heck were these things (before they were devoured by the Ichneumon)? I wasn’t able to match the caterpillars to anything in my bug book, or on your site. It didn’t occur to me to photograph them until it was too late. I hope the cocoon photos are enough of a clue! Thanks … we love your site!
in Atlanta, GA

Hi Penina,
First, your cocoons are not cocoons, which is the word that describes the silken coating spun by most moth caterpillars to cover the pupa. Your butterfly pupa is also called a crysalis. The silken thread and the upward orientation is a dead giveaway that it is one of the genus Papilio, the Swallowtails. The food plant, parsley as well as the striped color would tend to identify the Black Swallowtail, Papilio asterius, as the most likely suspect.