From the monthly archives: "November 2009"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

cicada has a headlight?
November 6, 2009
In my closeup photo of a cicada’s (“a”) head, I noticed a bright red spot between his eyes, above his ‘nose’, which sure looked like a ruby-colored glass lens! I found the same thing on a second cicada (“b”), so it is not some weird anomaly. Also, it looks like there may be a cluster of the spots across his ‘forehead’, sorta like on a spider, but the other spots are aimed ‘up’, so I didn’t notice them at first. Maybe they’re additional eyes, maybe some other sort of sensors, but for sure, they do look strange!
seekertom
West Palm Beach, Fl

cicada with embedded camerain head???
How can I upload a pic of this guy to you? I have a decent frontal headshot which shows what looks like a red camera lens embedded into his skull. Couldn’t be a secret govt robot spy? could it?

Cicada Head

Cicada Head

Dear seekertom,
We loved your first impression, and we have taken the liberty of posting both of your letters to us.  Cicadas like most insects have three primitive eyes or ocelli as well as the two large compound eyes.  The ocelli are sensitive to light and in conjunction with the compound eyes, they provide the insect with two distinct types of vision.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Giant Termite?
November 5, 2009
Dear Experts,
we found this creature in a sink in our house in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles. It is much bigger than any giant termite described on your website or in wikipedia, but looks similar in shape.
You can see on the picture that its head is only a little smaller than the dime.
When we tried to catch it, it disappeared into the drain, and lived in the water for several days, but kept coming up (for air?).
We tried to tease it out with a pipe cleaner to catch it, but it attacked the pipe cleaner, biting it, and pulling it from our hands.
This is a very strong and energetic bug.
It is sensitive to light and sound. When we caught it, it was a pale beige in color, probably from being under water. But within 30 minutes or so, it regained its black-and-brown-stripe pattern.
We would love to know what this is. And also, what it eats, as my kids would like to keep for a few days.
Curious Angeleno
Los Angeles, CA

Potato Bug

Potato Bug

Dear Curious Angeleno,
We have received so many identification requests for Potato Bugs or Jerusalem Crickets in the past few day that we decided to post the one with the best letter and photo, and that is your query.  Originally we just wrote back to you that this was a Potato Bug and didn’t provide more.  This typically subterranean insect is found in the Western United States, typically in arid regions.  There is much information available online and it is one of our Top 10 identification requests.  Good luck with keeping it as a pet for a few days, and we hope you will release it afterward.  Try feeding it root vegetables like carrots and potatoes.  Despite its common name, it is not really a pest that consumes potatoes.  Though they are harmless, Potato Bugs do have strong jaws and will bite if provoked.  Again, other than a nip, the Potato Bug is harmless.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Striped, Gangly, 30-legged bug!
November 6, 2009
My friend Brandon sent me the photo along with this message: “I was pouring myself a soda next to the kitchen sink, when I turned around and spotted this on the wall. Not what you want to see behind you after you turn the lights on.”
Its body is about 3cm long, and including the legs it’s about 10cm long. I became very curious after seeing the photo, I just had to submit it!
Laura L. W., Roseville, CA
Lake of the Pines, Auburn, CA

House Centipede

House Centipede

Hi Laura,
What Brandon has labeled the Bug of Doom is a harmless, beneficial House Centipede.  This nocturnal predator is not known to bite people, will run away when the lights are snapped on, and will eat cockroaches and other undesirable household intruders if left alone to forage.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Unknown insect
November 6, 2009
Insect found in the RPPN Rio das Lontras – In Brazil, the Private Natural Heritage Reserve (RPPN) is a private conservation area that is registered in perpetuity and protected by a federal law, with the aim of conserving biological diversity. The creation of a RPPN is a voluntary act by the owner, who decides to designate his property, or part there of, as an RPPN, without losing the right to tenure.
Fernando José Pimentel Teixeira
(UTM): 709.016,89 Norte e 6.942.224,05 Leste

Harlequin Beetle

Harlequin Beetle

Dear Fernando,
First we are very happy that you have provided us information on the RPPN which sounds like an excellent way to preserve open spaces that are protected against logging and other activities.  We are very active in Land Use issues here in the Mount Washington neighborhood of Los Angeles, California where unchecked development is responsible for the loss of the endangered Black Walnut woodland community.  Though our own tiny pockets of open space cannot compare with the grandeur of the Brazilian rain forests, we know how difficult it can be to try to preserve land.  Your magnificent beetle is known as a Harlequin Beetle, Acrocinus longimanus.  The males have forelegs that are nearly twice the length of the body.  The Harlequin Beetle belongs to the Family Cerambycidae, the Longhorned Borer Beetles.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

black caterpillar with yellow stripes and red ends (Brazil)
November 6, 2009
Hello!
I spotted this huge caterpillar here in Rio de Janeiro and now I wonder what it is, and if it will turn into some beautiful butterfly one day! Can you help me? Thank you!
Anne
Brazil, Rio de Janeiro

Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar

Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi Anne,
This gorgeous caterpillar is a Tetrio Sphinx, Pseudosphinx tetrio.  It feeds on Plumeria.  It is primarily a Caribbean and South American species, but it is also found in Florida and  other southern states.  You may read more about the Tetrio Sphinx on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

What arachnid is yellow & black in CALIF but not a garden spider?
November 4, 2009
What arachnid is yellow & black in CALIF but not a garden spider?
• Your letter to the bugman    I found this arachnid on the head of an acquaintance last week so I flicked it out of his hair with my finger. I looked all over to see where it landed but couldn’t find it. This morning I went out to my truck and it was on my front seat! I’m in Santa Cruz, California.
Please help me identify it.
Thank you, James
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

White Banded Crab Spider

White Banded Crab Spider

Hi James,
Your spider is a highly variable White Banded Crab Spider, Misumenoides formosipes, and it is harmless.  There are several matching images on BugGuide.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination