From the monthly archives: "April 2011"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Flying desert insect, resembles ant
Location: Mojave Desert, near the mountains
April 22, 2011 10:43 pm
A friend and I found swarms of this red ant-like insect with wings near a mountain range in the Mojave Desert, during spring. The bugs are about 1 to 1.5 inches long, and they were non-hostile. We have no idea what kind it is, but we would like to know.
As a side note, most of them were mating.
Signature: Aethryix

Master Blister Beetle

Dear Aethryix,
The appearance of large numbers of Master Blister Beetles,
Lytta magister, is a common occurrence in the Mojave and Colorado Deserts of the arid southwest each spring, and we hope you enjoyed the sighting.  Like other members of the Blister Beetle family, the Master Blister Beetle should be handled with care, or even better, not handled at all, because they are able to secrete a compound known as cantharidin that can cause blistering of the skin.  Though Blister Beetles are found in many parts of the world and throughout much of North America, the deserts of the arid southwest have an especially diverse population and there are many unusual looking species.  We are sad you did not submit any images of mating Master Blister Beetles, though there is no shortage of such images in our archives including this example from earlier this year.  Adult Master Blister Beetles feed on vegetation and we would expect the rain pattern from this past winter would have provided for a lush plant growth in the desert which should in turn support a robust population of insects that feed on vegetation, including Blister Beetles.  We needed to check the extent of the Colorado Desert online to provide a state for this posting, and we learned on the California Fish and Game website that the Colorado Desert is entirely in California while the Mojave Desert extends to some neighboring states.

Master Blister Beetle

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

red headed yellow winged?
Location: Phoenix, AZ
April 22, 2011 11:48 pm
I saw this bug walking across the parking lot at my wife’s work.. We live in Phoenix, AZ.. It had 6 legs. I thought it looked like a giant red ant. Thanks for any and all info you have on it.
Signature: Ben

Iron Cross Blister Beetle

Dear Ben,
This is an Iron Cross Blister Beetle, and each spring we get several identification requests from their range in California and Arizona.  Your letter is our first report for 2011, though we did receive one report in December 2010 that is most likely due to the unusual weather pattern and unseasonal rains since late 2010.  All Blister Beetles should be handled with care as they are able to secrete a compound known as cantharidin that can cause skin to blister.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Crazy Huge Backyard Bug
Location: Marin, California
April 22, 2011 12:03 pm
Hi, My son and I found this bug in our backyard in Marin, California yesterday (April 21). It appears somewhat like a non-flying bee/wasp (could it be a queen kicked out of nest?) and was moving very very slowly. The thing was HUGE – at leas 4 inches. It looked prehistoric and somewhat venemous. What is it?? Should I remove it from our yard if I encounter it again? Does it mean a colony of something dangerous is in our yard, or just an amazing creature? Thanks for any help!
Signature: Amazed by bug

Potato Bug

Dear Amazed by bug,
We hope you and your son will long remember your first encounter with a truly iconic California insect, the Potato Bug or Jerusalem Cricket, a member of the genus
Stenopelmatus.  Entomologists in recent years have realized that there is much more diversity in this genus than originally suspected, and BugGuide now indicates there may be as many as 60 North American species of this unique insect whose closest relatives are the Wetas of Australia.  Potato Bugs are not venomous, but they do have powerful jaws that might draw blood if a person carelessly handles a large individual.  Native Americans and Spanish speaking cultures have many myths and superstitions regarding this fascinating insect that is almost humanoid in its appearance.  There is no need to remove Potato Bugs from your yard.  They are subterranean dwellers that spend much of their time underground.  Potato Bugs comprise one of our most frequently made identification requests.

Potato Bug

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

I’m not sure this is native to the United States
Location: Baltimore, MD (but I’m not sure its domestic)
April 22, 2011 9:05 am
I was recently at work and happened to look down when I was leaving. On the ground and on its back it kind of looked like a large beetle, but I flipped it over and it definitely wasn’t a beetle. It was about 4-5” in length and didn’t move around even though it was alive. I’ve tried to find information about it but nobody knows what it is, could you find out the name of it?
Signature: Shawn Yoder

Giant Water Bug

Hi Shawn,
This is a Giant Water Bug in the genus
Lethocerus, and it is most likely one of five native species, though it has similar looking relatives in other parts of the world.  Alas, we haven’t the necessary skills to determine if this is a native species or one of its foreign relatives, however, we suspect it is native.  You can view photos of the natives on BugGuide. Giant Water Bugs are not beetles, as you have observed, and they are also called Toe-Biters since their bite is reported to be quite painful and Electric Light Bugs since they are attracted to lights at night.  They are the largest True Bugs in North America, though foreign relatives, especially those in Southeast Asia where they are eaten as delicacies, are significantly larger.  If your specimen was truly over four inches in length, it might well be a foreign import as North American individuals are allegedly only three inches in length.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Picture of Beetle
Location: Orange County, Southern California, USA
April 21, 2011 8:31 am
can You Identify this Beetle, found in Southern California. In a Park in Orange County.
Signature: FELIPE ANTILLON

Eucalyptus Longhorn Borer

Dear Felipe,
We are sorry about the delay in our response, but we were on holiday.  We have started with the oldest emails that arrived in our absence and we are going to post those that we find the most interesting.  Your beetle is an imported exotic species, but luckily, it feeds on an imported exotic plant and it does not have a direct effect on our native southern California ecosystem.  This is one of two closely related species that are both known as Eucalyptus Longhorn Borers.  They are native to Australia.  They first appeared in Southern California in the early 1980s when their presence did not garner much attention because that coincided with the Med Fly eradication program.  Residents are advised against transporting eucalyptus firewood as this is known to spread the Eucalyptus Longhorn Borers to new locations.  Since the eucalyptus trees have become ubiquitous in much of the southwest, these invasive exotic beetles have a significant economic impact.  The larvae bore tunnels and galleries under the bark and if they are especially numerous, they may kill a tree.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Unidentified bug!
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
April 18, 2011 11:32 am
Hi!
This little bug appeared in the back of my house. I have never seen a bug like this before and would be very thankful if you could identify it for me.
The bug was about 15 mm long, from head to toe.
Thanks!
Signature: Daniel from sweden

Longhorned Borer Beetle

Hi Daniel,
This is one of the Longhorned Borer Beetles in the family Cerambycidae, though our initial search could not find any possibilities for a species identification.  We will set your letter to post while we are out of the office for the holiday.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination