From the monthly archives: "December 2006"

Bug from a pig barn
Hi Mr. Bugman,
Can you help us? Our pig barn in east-central Alberta is experiencing an increase of these black and white striped critters. They prefer dry areas with dry maure and seem to live where there are many small black beetles (coincidence?). They have short, stubby wings and can fly short distances – about 6 to 8 inches, though they much prefer walking. They are soft bodied, so don’t appear to be a beetle. These bugs have nasy little pinchers and don’t hesitate to use them! We were wondering if they were a stage of a swine parasite(?) like the bot fly is to a horse; we do de-worm regularly. Are they a predator, or nuisance? Please help because the poor thing are usually squashed on sight!

Hi Donna,
We couldn’t wait to find out what you found in the pig barn. This is a Rove Beetle. Rove Beetles are a large family, Staphylinidae, that has over 2900 species in North America. Most are predators so you can stop squishing. They might be feeding on insects and worms attracted to the manure. Eric Eaton has this to add: “The rove beetle is a specimen of the hairy rove beetle, Staphylinus maxillosus. They are most commonly found on carrion (dead animals), where they feed on fly maggots. They are strictly predatory, as you mentioned. Eric”

Identification of insect , grasshopper/cricket, and butterfly
To whom it may concern:
1) I saw an insect on my screen door in Portal, ARIZONA, U.S.A., near Cave Creek Canyon, which is high desert. It stayed on the screen for about 4 hours, hardly moving. It was about 4-5 inches in length ("wood bug on screen"). I THINK IT MIGHT BE IN THE PHASMID FAMILY? Do you have any idea what this insect is called? and any other information about it would be greatly appreciated (photos attached). Thank you very much for your help!
Irene Kitzman MD
Portal, AZ and Hamden, CT

Hi Irene,
To better conform to our [lack of] organization, we will be posting your various queries sepatately. This is indeed a Phasmid. It is a Gray Walkingstick, Pseudosermyle straminea, a desert species. Seems your specimen is missing a front leg.

Winter migration of these into my house
What is this? It seems they come into my house located in Cumberland, Maine every winter. We also have them in Dover, NH but fewer. They seem to be some sort of harmless bug, maybe a form of grasshopper? Picture attached. Thanks

Hi Russell,
This is a Western Conifer Seed Bug, Leptoglossus occidentalis. It is native to the Pacific Northwest, but has migrated east over the last century. They often enter homes in the fall. We have decided to make this our featured Bug of the Month for December.

piles of tiny insects in my driveway
What are these things???
There are several piles of millions of tiny moving insects in several places in my driveway. They are a dark grayish, brownish color. They are oblong and have visible antennae. At first, I thought they were piles of dirt.until I noticed they were moving. I can’t find anything on the Web. Help! Thanks,

Hi Charlie,
Springtails in the order Collembola, are minute insects often found in large numbers. These are probably Snow Fleas, Achorutes nivicola, a type of Springtail that is found in the winter, often on top of the snow on warm sunny days.