From the monthly archives: "November 2004"

big roach?
Hi Folks,
Found this bug near the local rec centre, assuming its a roach, just wanted verification on that, any idea of the species?

Hi Andrew,
We just love getting new photos of Giant Water Bugs, also known as Toe-Biters (a well deserved name) as well as Electric Light Bugs because they are often attracted to lights at night, often in great numbers. This is the largest true bug in the continental U.S. and it is equally at home in water or air, though it is somewhat clumsy on the ground.

Help please
After the last hard rain 10 days ago, these bugs have been coming out every night, they look black, are about 1/4 inch long and jump around from out of the grass onto my porch. They seem to be attracted to light, because each morning I find hundreds of their little dead copper colored bodies all over my front and back porch. In the 2 years I’ve lived here, I’ve never seen them before. What are they?
Thanks very much from San Dimas, CA
Janet Boydell

Hi Janet,
You are being plagued by Lawn Shrimp, a colorful name for a type of terrestrial Amphipod. Terrestrial amphipods live on the surface (top 1/2 inch) of mulch and moist ground. After rains, large numbers of amphipods can migrate into garages or under the doors of houses. There they soon die their color changing from brown, green or black to red upon death. They migrate out of rain-soaked soil to drier areas where they usually end up dying. Most species are active at night. Here is a site with additional information.

Thank you very much!
Hi and thanks so much for getting back to me. By the way, your website is wonderful…my son thinks it’s so cool that you posted our question and then answered us. Very helpful and useful! I’ll pass it on.
Best to you,

Spider identification
I found this spider and its egg sac in my flower garden. The eggs are light orange in color. I have searched the internet in hopes of identification. No luck! Any help you can give me will be appreciated.

Hi Lorrie,
We turned to our very old copy of Comstock’s Spider Book for this one. We believe it is one of the orb weavers from the genus Kaira. When the book was printed in 1948, Kaira alba was reported in Southern states. The book states: “The abdomen is subglobose, with a hump on each side at the base; each hump bears numerous conical tubercles.” The black and white photo looks very similar. Sorry, that is the best we can do.

Houston Texas – New Bug
I live North of Houston in a pine area and after 10 years of residence I have started finding these new bugs everywhere. The alsmost look crawfishlike from the front. The can get up to 2" long and the from legs seem to have a hand or pawlike look. The back looks like it may have a stinger. (See attached photo) Any help would be appreciated.
Les Osborne

Hi Les,
Nice photo of a Mole Cricket, Family Gryllotalpidae. They get their common name from the fact that they spend most of their time underground, burrowing. They eat plant roots. Some species are capable of flight. They like moist soil. The European Mole Cricket, Gryllotalpa gryllotalpa, can grow to 2 inches. It is a European introduction is generally found in the Eastern U.S.

I am the operations manager at a large retreat Center and Summer Camp in Dallas Texas. We have a tall tower that the kids ride a zip line down. Every Fall these wasp swarm the tower. They are not aggressive, but needless to say, kids running and swatting at wasp 50′ in the air is not good. There are no nest, just hundreds of these wasp flying around the top of the tower. the strange thing is they are just at the top of the tower and no where else.
The attached pics are of the wasp. pic_a wasp are larger than pic_b wasp. There seems to be a equal # of both. I don’t know if they are the same species and pic_b is a juvenile. We have tried wasp spray and smoke to no avail. Any ideas???
Thanks for the Help

Hi Ronney,
Your wasps are Paper Wasp from the genus Polistes. They inhabit meadows fields and gardens where they take nectar from flowers and they are often found near buildings. They are social wasps. Several females work together to construct an uncovered paperlike, hanging nest made of wood pulp and saliva. The Audubon Guide to Insects and Spiders goes on to say that : “One female becomes dominant queen. Ist few generations in summer are all females, cared for as larvae by unmated female workers. Unfertilized eggs produce fertile males. Only mated young queens overwinter under leaf litter and in stone walls. Old queens, workers, and larvae die. Paper Wasps are much more tolerant of people and minor disturbances than are hornets and yellow jackets.” Your species is probably Polistes apachus which occurs in Texas, New Mexico, southern California, and Mexico.

Can you tell me what kind of spider?
I found this spider on my bathroom floor this morning. I captured it in a cup and now I’m not sure what to do with it. I don’t really have the heart to kill it, but I also don’t really want it saying hello to me everyday when I go into the bathroom. I live in Princeton, NJ. Thanks for any info you can give me.
-Mike Tanasy

Hi Mike,
I hope you released the Wolf Spider outside where it can hunt down injurious insects.