From the monthly archives: "October 2012"

Subject: Big Fat Spiky Caterpillar
Location: Charleston Int’l Airport
October 26, 2012 10:00 am
Found this caterpillar outside my office on the sidewalk. Picked it up because someone was going to step on it. Mistake! My index finger is killing me now. My wife tells me this was stupid and ”everyone” knows not to touch these. ’Cept me apparently. Not looking for medical advice, just curious if it’s a toxic or if a spike is in my finger. Would like to address it. Sincerely, Major Wuss
Signature: Major Wuss

Io Moth Caterpillar

Dear Major Wuss,
The sting of the Io Moth Caterpillar is rumored to be quite painful.  WikiHow has 8 steps to treating Caterpillar Stings, and the Io Caterpillar is reported to have poisonous spines.  If it is any consolation, we are tagging your posting with the Bug Humanitarian award for your good intentions.

Subject: Found about 50 of these flying around my apt is SF
Location: San Francisco, CA
October 26, 2012 9:32 pm
Dear bugman, I arrived home tonight to the flutter of a thousand wings (well, actually more like 200 wings). After turning on the lights, these guys went crazy. I live in a ground floor in-law apartment in a residential neighborhood of San Francisco. Possibly related is that we had rain a couple days ago, and there are several access points to the crawlspace of the house in my apt. Any ideas? Any remedies for minimizing future outbreaks? Thanks for taking a look!
Signature: Flustered

Termite Alate

Dear Flustered,
You have Termites.  The reproductive kings and queens, known as Alates, swarm on a nuptial flight, often after a rain.  We would suggest professional assistance.

Subject: Maui Bug Love
Location: Pukalani
October 26, 2012 2:17 pm
Aloha – Have never seen this bug before. It is about the size of a lady beetle, but not as round.
These two liked to hide under the stem of the plant I was pruning, which I don’t know the name of. I had to turn the stem constantly so they were on the top side for their portrait. Also, one constantly was moving and the other was just going along with the direction choice.
Mahalo for all you do!
Signature: Eliza

Mating Black Stink Bugs

Hi Eliza,
About a year and a half ago, we first identified the Black Stink Bug,
Coptosoma xanthogramma, which is a nonnative, introduced species like so many creatures on the Hawaiian islands.  This online articleby John W. Beardsley, Jr. and Sam Fluker has some wonderful information.

Mating Black Stink Bugs

Subject: Oil Beetle photo
Location: Suffolk, VA
October 26, 2012 9:53 am
I recently took this photo not knowing what they are but they look like oil beetles. Taken in vegetable garden, 10-24-12 in Suffolk, Va. Female was munching on a weed.
Signature: Heidi Pocklington

Mating Oil Beetles

Hi Heidi,
Your mating Oil Beetles are an excellent addition to our Bug Love tag.


Subject: Large with serrations on back has wings
Location: Near Pittsburgh, PA
October 25, 2012 9:16 am
Hello, This bug was found 10/24/12 near Pittsburgh, PA (in the country)on my Mother’s deck. What is it? Is it dangerous? Have never seen anything like it before.
Signature: Laura

Wheel Bug

Hi Laura,
We have been getting several requests each day recently to identify Wheel Bugs like yours.  With winter approaching, Wheel Bugs,
 Arilus cristatus, have matured and they are attracting more attention.  Wheel Bugs are stealth predators that should be handled with caution.  Though they are not aggressive, they are capable of delivering a painful bite with their proboscis that is designed for piercing prey and sucking fluids from the bodies of other insects.  A recent request called it a Stegosaurus Bug.  Your excellent photograph nicely focuses on the coglike crest that gives the Wheel Bug its common name.

Hi Daniel,
Thank you for the explanation. Have these insects always been found in the Northeast? I have never seen one before. Should we be concerned that where there’s one there’s more?  And, when do they lay eggs and where? We thought maybe the one we found was sick because it only moved a few inches in 2 days. We have a lot of stink bugs this fall so maybe that’s what attracted it?
All the best,

Hi Laura,
The Wheel Bug is the largest Assassin Bug in North America and they are found in the Northeast.  The female lays eggs in the fall, often on a branch or wood siding.  The eggs overwinter and hatch in the spring.  The hatchling Wheel Bugs are often mistaken for ants or spiders.

Subject: On my house
Location: Louisville ky
October 25, 2012 11:01 pm
Hey, this soft boddied insect with a large abdomen who was about 1.5 inches long was on my house. I tried to tap it off into a small box to move it into my yard, but it was fragile and I smashed it a bit. Very docile. Ideas?
Signature: Michael S

Oil Beetle

Hi Michael,
Your Oil Beetle is in the Blister Beetle family and it should be handled with caution.  Blister Beetles can exude a compound cantharidin that can cause blistering in human skin.

Thanks for the quick response.  Luckily I didn’t touch it directly, and though its abdomen smashed a bit and oozed some bright yellow, it seemed ok walking around in our yard.  I removed it into a small cardboard shipping box with the edge of an envelope.  My 3 year old was interested in touching it, as it was right by the front door of our house.  Thanks for identifying it.  I sent it to some local farmers who didn’t know what it was.
Michael S