From the monthly archives: "January 2005"

bugs infesting my Emina fern
Dear Bugman,
I live in southern California and I noticed a bunch of these little bugs
on my emina fern, I was wondering if you could tell me what they are and
if they are harmful to my plants. They have a lot of little legs, the
antennae stick out of their back end, and they’re about the size of the
tilde sign on the keyboard.

Hi Tom,
You have Mealy Bugs which will infest many types of house plants. Check with a local nursery about the best way to get rid of them.

What is this bug
Recently, I found 5 – 10 bugs on the carpet of my family and living rooms each day . They are dead and dried out. I live in southern California. Can you tell me what bug it is?
Many thanks.

Hi Eric,
You have a type of terrestrial amphipod known commonly as a Lawn Shrimp or House Hopper. According to Hogue: “During or just after a rain, residents in various parts of Los Angeles County are sometimes startled to find a number of these amphipods in their houses. The creatures are usually dead when found and are a nuisance merely by their presence. It is likely that the House Hoppers seek the dryness of buildings when their natural habitats become flooded.”

Venezuelan bug.
Hi Bugman!
I’m a Brit living in Venezuela. I found you while trying to identify (unsuccessfully) a new visitor to our home. We get used to seeing all kinds of weird bugs, but after 12 years here, this is the first time I’ve seen a bug like this one. I guess it’s some sort of cockroach by the underside, but its top shell is like some kind of armour with a translucent "helmet".

Unlike cockroaches we’re used to, this one was fairly slow-moving, and "scuttled" rather than running, somewhat like a woodlouse. It wouldn’t scuttle far, and then seemed to "hunker down" and wait for some aggressive movement before moving again. It doesn’t have wings like the big roaches that fly in from outside, and the "shell" seems to be sticky, with debris stuck to it. My wife didn’t sympathize with my curiosity, and I had to zap it with bug spray to quieten her down. She wouldn’t let me keep it either, so I hope it wasn’t an important bug, because it’s gone to cockroach heaven now. I’ve attached three pictures.
Fascinating website – Congratulations. I spent an interesting couple of hours reading all your entries. Is there anything particularly interesting about the bug I’ve sent? I’d love to know.
Best wishes from Venezuela.
Terence Jeal

Hi Terrence,
I am not going to be able to help you with an exact species identification, but it is a species of Cockroach from the Order Blattodea. Hogue, one of our favorite experts, sums things up nicely when he writes: “Cockroaches are much maligned insects. A few pesky species ave given a bad name to the whole order of thousands of species, including more than fifty in North America. The few ‘bad’ cockroaches are common household pests in most warm parts of the world. By far the majority of kinds, however, are very interesting ‘wild’ cockroaches that inhabit caves, burrow in sand dunes, live in ant nests, or exhibit other unusual life histories. Cockroaches are also not all drably colored like the familiar household varieties. Many tropical species sport yellow, red, green, and othe colors on their bodies and wings and are quiet beautiful.” Thanks for sending in the photos of a very interesting looking cockroach.

Little worms in white paper houses
Dear Bugman, I recently moved to Florida to a just constructed home. I have a monthly bug service that I pay for dearly, as our new home had cockroaches before it was even occupied. Now I keep finding a very strange bug in my bathroom. It is a little tiny reddish worm carrying a big (1/4 inch long) paper shell, acutally dragging it around. The shell looks similar to a large sunflower seed in shape, but is white and papery. When you go near them, they retreat into the little shell. Then when they think it’s safe, they pop out of the end and start akwardly dragging the shell around again. I keep picking them up and tossing them outside, but everytime I go into my bathroom there are more of them. Yesterday when I was taking a bath, one crawled up out of my bubblebath, pulling his little paper shell with him. Now that’s the last straw for me. Yuck! What could these things be? None of my neighbors have ever seen or heard of such a thing. They suggested silverfish, but I know what they look like and these definatley are not silverfish.
Leslie M*^^!##s

Hi Leslie,
You have Case-Bearing Moth larvae. The small larvae carry a noticeable case made of fine sand and debris. The case, which is about a quarter to half an inch long, is flattened on top and bottom, expanded at its center and tapered at both ends. They are often found on walls (both outside and inside) of houses and other structures. Larvae are said to feed primarily on insect remains, fur, flannel, and hair: they do not seem to be a clothes pest. We have gotten many letters from Florida regarding Case Bearing Moths.

Update: Invasion of Privacy????? (03/22/2008)
March 22, 2008
We are writing to you on behalf of Leslie M*^^!##s. She has asked us to contact you to see if you will consider removing the content about her … Please allow us to introduce ourselves. We are ReputationDefender, Inc., a company dedicated to helping our clients preserve their good name on the Internet. Our founders and employees are all regular Internet users. Like our clients, and perhaps like you, we think the Internet is sometimes unnecessarily hurtful to the privacy and reputations of everyday people. Even content that is meant to be informative can sometimes have a significant and negative impact on someone’s job prospects, student applications, and personal life. We invite you to learn more about who we are, at [web address removed] . When our clients sign up with our service, we undertake deep research about them on the Internet to see what the Web is saying about them. We find sites where they are discussed, and we ask our clients how they feel about those sites. Sometimes our clients express strong reservations about the content on particular websites. They may feel hurt, ashamed, or “invaded” by the content about them on those sites. As you may know, more and more prospective employers, universities, and newfound friends and romantic interests undertake Internet research, and the material they find can strongly impact their impressions of the people they are getting to know. When people apply for jobs, apply for college or graduate school, apply for loans, begin dating, or seek to do any number of other things with their lives, hurtful content about them on the Internet can have a negative impact on their opportunities. At some point or another, most of us say things about ourselves or our friends and acquaintances we later regret. We’re all human, and we all do it! We are writing to you today because our client, Ms. M*^^!##s, has told us that she would like the content about her on your website to be removed as she considers it outdated. Would you be willing to remove or alter the content? Simply omitting her last name would be more than sufficient. It would mean so much to Ms. M*^^!##s, and to us. Considerate actions such as these will go a long way to help make the Internet a more civil place. Thank you very much for your consideration. We are mindful that matters like these can be sensitive. We appreciate your time. Please let us know if you have removed or changed the content on this site by sending an e-mail to: [email address removed]. If another individual would be more appropriate to contact on this matter, we’d be grateful if you could forward this message to him or her. Yours sincerely,
ReputationDefender Service Team

Hello Bistra,
Though it is time consuming, we can provide a do-over for her by removing Ms M*^^!##s name from our website post haste. We never intended to invade her privacy. We merely posted a query letter she willingly sent to our site. We would hate to impact her potential dating opportunities, her chances of getting into a university (we would never forgive ourselves if this was a deal breaker with Harvard) or her chances of getting a lucrative job merely because of the world knowing that she had Case Bearing Moths in her bathroom. It is sad that potential love connections and employers could be so cruel and insensitive when a good look at their own closets, kitchen cupboards or bathrooms might reveal an infestation of carpet beetles, meal moths or bathroom flies. Our sympathies go out to Ms. M*^^!##s and we wish her all the luck in her subsequent internet romances, post graduate work, and securing that six figure income now that she cannot be connected to Case Bearing Moth Larvae on the internet.

Our readership weighs in:
On the ” Leslie M*^^!##s” thing.
I have a sneaking suspicion that this young woman probably had a problem with an entirely different place all together. Or perhaps had no problem at all and this company is phishing. Either way, they just did an internet search for her name and, since it came up on your site, they mailed you. That’s my opinion and can be taken as such. This sort of thing always makes me mail the person in question to see if it’s true. Bye! Love your site!
Jill Sylvan

Invasion of Privacy
Dear What’s That Bug,
At first I thought that your letter from the ReputationDefender team was a joke since it was one of the funniest things I have read in a long time. Ironically, I think that worse than having your name associated with a picture of a Case Bearing Moth Larvae in your bathroom, is being associated with a “reputation defender team” trying to get your name removed from being associated with a picture of a Case Bearing Moth Larvae in your bathroom! Personally, I would feel honored to have my name as one of those privileged few who have had their pictures and/or letters posted on such a respected and loved web site. In fact, I wouldn’t want to have as friends or employers those who would think that writing such a letter to What’s That Bug would be liability. Some of the coolest and most interesting people I know are those who are frequent visitors to this site. Keep up the good work!
Laura from NJ

mystery bug
We have these in numbers in the back yard and are not sure that they are. I was thinking it was a type of chinch bug but I have not been able to verify. If you could help I would appreciate it.
Thanks allot,

Hi Rick,
You have an immature or nymph stage Box Elder Bug. Both nymphs and adults congregate together in large aggregations often on Box Elder and Maple trees, but also on other deciduous trees. They are usually noticed in fall and warm winter day. They sometimes enter homes in great numbers.

Is this an Assasin bug?
Hi There! I’ve been trying to identify this bug, and I am fairly sure it’s an Assasin bug of some sort. It was quite large, although I did see one even larger (no camera though!) It doesn’t have the typical leafy leg decor, so I pretty sure it’s not a leaf leg bug. And he also doesn’t have a lighter tip on his antenna. I live in NW Georgia. I found this guy on my Pyrracantha during the summer, and he stayed there for weeks. Thanks for your input!
Shannon Davidson
Dallas, GA

Hi Shannon,
We wrote to Eric Eaton who correctly identified your: “This is not an assassin bug, though. It is a male Acanthocephala species, family Coreidae (leaf-footed bugs). Males have greatly swollen hind femora (“thighs”) armed with spikes and teeth, which they use in battles over females. Both genders have leaf-like flanges on the hind tibia (“shins”). Neat bugs, totally harmless, feed on seeds mostly.”