From the monthly archives: "June 2005"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Great site!
I have been searching for hours to try to find out what this bug is that has taken over one of my butterfly weed plants. Should I worry about it infesting the rest of my garden? I was reading some of the other posts and this is such a great resource for curious folks like me! Hope you can help me identify this bug.
Thanks, Timlie Reis
Gulf Coast Mississippi

Hi Timlie,
You have Aphids. These pests can easily infest many types of plants. You have some winged sexual adults which mate in the typical manner. They then produce generations of female aphids which do not need a mate, but can give live birth without the help of a male. The aphids then become very plentiful. They damage plants by sucking the juices from new growth. They are uaually very host plant specific but other aphids are more general feeders. You can easily eliminate them or at least contro them with diligent daily hosing. Use a strong spray to wash them away. You can also spray them with soapy water. It clogs their breathing aparatus and causes them to drown.

This is an additional comment relating to the milkweed in Temile’s photo. It was a milkweed plant which is the host plant for a number of butterflies, including monarchs. Your advice about using soapy water to rid it of aphids was correct but would also kill off butterfly eggs, caterpillars & chrysalises. A strong stream of water will also wash off eggs, caterpillars and possibly chrysalises. There is hope, however! The natural predator for the aphids is the lady beetle. My experience is that lady beetles usually come along about 2 weeks after the start of an aphid infestation. If the infestation is not overwhelming I usually leave the aphids for the lady beetles. The lady beetles may also lay eggs and the larva will devour the aphids. But if my plants are overwhelmed by aphids or there are caterpillars feeding which need the leaves right away I control by carefully hand-squishing aphids (while they’re still on the stems & leaves) until the lady beetles show up. Yech! But having monarchs around the yard all year is worth it. You do a fabulous job!
Kathleen Scott

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Small kitchen spiders with a death wish
Your site is terrific! I have spent a lot of time trying to get a good shot of our latest guests in our kitchen in Annandale , Virginia to send in for identification. They are much more active at night but also move around in the daytime. My original email to you came back because the file was too big and then your site was down for a while. Naturally, left to my own vivid imagination, I decided these are of the brown recluse variety. Imagine the scene when several of these guys committed hari kari into boiling water as I started a batch of macaroni for lunch at my daughter’s birthday party. Apparently they were living in the hood above the stove prior to the steam bath. They’ve moved on to the cabinets but not before one drowned in my cup of decaf; didn’t notice him until I swallowed the last drop. Really! Of course, with my growing belief that my friends are brown recluses, it took a while to determine whether my tongue was numb from the dead spider in the coffee cup or just because of bad decaf. I’m pretty sure brown recluses aren’t living in Northern Virginia but my skin is crawling anyway. Tell me I’m being melodramatic (please!)
wondering in VA ,

Hi Katie,
Your letter is so entertaining. You do not have Brown Recluses. I believe you have a spider from the genus Chiracanthium, known as the Cream House Spider. According to Hogue: It was introduced from Europe and “often enters homes, where it builds a sack-like web in corners and crevices (even in household appliances). … When disturbed they draw the fore pair of legs back and in, forming a cage around the body. As they walk, these spiders often wave the fore legs about or thrust them forward as if testing the path. These spiders have relatively strong long fangs and have been known to bite humans, causing a wound that is painful and slow to heal.”

Thanks so much for the quick reply! I’m relieved to finally have a name for these guys that doesn’t contain “recluse” — although the painful bite, slow healing part makes me a little nervous. By the way, thanks to your great and informative site, one very large, ugly, creepy, crawly house centipede received a free ride to the great outdoors this morning rather than a one-way garbage can trip. — becoming enlightened one bug at a time,
your Annandale fan, Katie

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination