What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Swarm of small black beetles
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
October 26, 2010 5:08 pm
Every year in Santa Cruz, CA we get a small flood of these small black beetles in our upstairs bedroom. They seem to congregate under skylights and near windows (lots of sun). They are looking for mates, as I can see a number of them paired end to end, while others wander searching. They never have wings and don’t look like termites we see elsewhere around the yard. We just had our first big rainfall and it’s sunny and warm today.
Signature: Thanks, David

Termite Alate

Hi David,
This is the third email we looked at this morning with similar Termite Alates from California which just had an unseasonal rain.  None of the images contained winged specimens, and we do not know if there is a species of Termite that does not have a winged reproductive form, but we doubt it.  See our previous posting for additional information.

Update:  June 17, 2012
We have been doing some research based on a comment from Sonfish that this is a Devil’s Coach Horse.  While we were confident that it wasn’t a Devil’s Coach Horse, we began to have doubts that this was a Termite and that it might be a Rove Beetle, so we contacted Eric Eaton.  He confirmed our original identification.

Eric Eaton confirms Termite Identification
June 16, 2012
Yes, these are alate termites that have shed their wings.  The one in the bottom image has her abdomen in the air because she is “calling” males with her pheromones, released from glands near the tip of her abdomen.  They do look remarkably like rove beetles when they do that!

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

3 Responses to Termite Alate: Unseasonal October Rains result in numerous requests from California

  1. Sonfish says:

    I would like to correct that this bug is NOT a termite alate and is of NO RELATION to termites. It is ocypus olens, a beetle of the
    family Staphylinidae, also known as “The Devil’s Coach Horse” It eats snails and slugs and their eggs so it is considered a beneficial bug. It was introduced from Europe, probably along with the most common snail we have in gardens here. Ocypus olens normally lives
    outdoors, but will sometimes be seen in houses during wet weather.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *