From the monthly archives: "November 2004"

Is this a centipede larva?
My 7 year old bug lover son, found 2 of these centipede-like creatures the other day. We have looked online and can’t find it anywhere. Can you help us? We live in Santa Cruz County, CA if that helps locate the species. It is the bug in the middle.

Hi Kendra,
Your specimens look more like some species of millipede, but not a species we are able to identify.

Update: (01/20/2008) Millipede IDs
11/12/04 . Sta. Cruz Co., Calif. Xystocheir dissecta taibona Chamberlin (Polydesmida: Xystodesmidae)
Rowland Shelley
North Carolina State Museum of Natural Science

Help quickly please! Centipede or millipede? Dog may have been bitten!
My dog was acting rather strangely, laying down and rubbing his mouth on the floor, much like when you give a dog spicey food. Anyways I looked over and I saw this brown bug crawling accross the floor. Immeditely I captured it and took these pictures. As I understand a millipede is not harmful, but a centipede is, and I’d like to know what this is. When it crawled it was like its legs were moving like waves. and was roughly an inch, to an inch and a half long. Please help me out on this, I’m afraid if my dog did get bitten by this. To possibly help out more I live in Arizona near a mountain preserve, so there’s wild landscapping.

Dear AzS,
You have sent in a photo of a millipede, and though they do not bite, according to Hogue: “If disturbed, a millipede will coil up like a watch sprint; many species also exude fluids that stain the skin and have a repugnant odor that has been dcompared to iodine, quinine, or chlorine. The fluids commonly are benzoquinones and other chemicals that evaporate rapidly and act as repellents against predators. Certain millipedes produce cyanide fumes.” I would venture to guess your dog just got a bad taste in his mouth.

Update: (01/20/2008) Millipede IDs
11/12/04 . AZ Colactis sp. (Callipodida: Schizopetalidae)
Rowland Shelley
North Carolina State Museum of Natural Science

what’s that bug
Hello! My name is José Antônio. I live in Brazil. I found this caterpillar (Megalopygidae) in a orange tree. Can you help me to identify the species? Thank you very much.

Hi José Antônio,
Sorry to have taken so long, but we have tried to contact other people to get you an identification.  Sadly we are unable to help you.  You probably know much more about your native species than we do since you have identified it as a Megalopygidae.  Our members of that group are known as Puss Moths.  The caterpillars often have poison spines and are called Asps locally, especially in Texas.  Good luck with a positive identification.  Please keep us informed as to what you find out.  You can always raise the caterpillar since you know its food plant and then see what type of moth emerges.  Have a great day.  Daniel

Peppermint discourages ants
Dear What’s That Bug,
I just discovered your website and love it. My husband and I will soon be spending much of our time in Costa Rica, and I anticipate having lots of questions to ask about the insects we will be encountering there. I am writing to let your readers know that we have succeeded in ending our daily morning encounter with ants on our kitchen counter and under the sink – with essential oil of peppermint. A couple of drops on the counter, spread with a damp sponge on their favorite areas (including under the sink) has kept them away.
Best regards,
Karen Lane
Petaluma, CA

Hi Karen,
Thanks for the great tip!!!

is this a garden spider?
Your website is great. This spider has grown all summer with webs starting from one end of our deck to the other, we sat and watched him for a few hours one night making his web. He is grown very very large. I am hoping he or she is a garden spider, cross spider or barn spider are they all the same?
Thank you so much
Elizabeth Jolly

Hi Elizabeth,
You have a Cross Spider. Garden Spiders, Cross Spiders and Barn Spiders are all members of the same group known collectively as Orb Weavers.

This spider was found in a pool in Calabasas Southern California. I have seen 3 other website site images of this spider, all found in pools in Southern California. No one has managed to identify it so far?

Hi Derek,
Just last week, our neighbors Jeannie and Ayn delivered a similar spider to our Mt. Washington doorstep. It was found in their pool. You both, and I assume the three other people online as well, have a male California Trap-Door Spider, Bothriocyrtum californicum. The males have the reddish abdomen and longer legs. Females are much stouter spiders with shorter legs. They build burrows with trap-doors and ambush prey that wanders past. They prefer sunny, dry, south-facing hillsides. The males are much shorter lived than the females who rarely leave their burrows. Males have the longer legs so they can travel in search of a mate. Often they meet an untimely end by drowning in swimming pools. Rains seem to trigger the mating activity.