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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Oklahoma, USA
Date: 11/30/2018
Time: 03:13 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Found this bug on my head after doing yard work yesterday.  What is it, can it hurt me.  Thought it was a katydid at first but don’t think it was.
How you want your letter signed:  Sammie B

Assassin Bug nymph

Dear Sammie,
This is an immature Assassin Bug, probably in the genus
Zelus.  This is a genus that is prone to biting folks when the insects are carelessly handled or accidentally encountered, and you are lucky you did not encounter a painful bite.  Though painful, the bite is not considered dangerous.  Because of your timing, we have selected your submission as our Bug of the Month for December 2018.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Enormous May Beetle in Winter?
Geographic location of the bug:  Arnold, CA (Sierra Nevadas)
Date: 11/28/2018
Time: 09:52 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi there,
Two of these huge beetles were banging on my glass door before dawn today at my house in the sierra forest. They were attracted to the lights inside and my porch light,
They were hitting the glass so loudly I thought someone was knocking. And of course as soon as I opened the door to take a look, they invited themselves in. They look like May beetles but were huge, at least an inch and a half long, with fine hair all over. They were pretty noisy, slow fliers, banging into everything. I did some poking around the internet and the closest bug I could find was the European common cockchafer.
They seem like an odd bug to see in winter in the mountains (4,000ft)-temperatures here have been dipping to the 30s at night for some time. We’ve also had drenching rain over the past week. The color was much more rust/red than in the picture.
What are these giant mystery bugs? Thank you!
How you want your letter signed:  Sarah J

Hi again!
I now believe these are rain beetles.I happened to see the word “rain” on your beetle list, clicked, and there they are. Just letting you know since it seems folks seem to be looking for these. We’re getting a lot of rain here!
Thanks for this great web resource!

Rain Beetle

Dear Sarah,
We agree with your assessment that this is a Rain Beetle.  Only male Rain Beetles have wings, and they often fly during pouring rains.  There are many creatures that appear after a rain, but Rain Beetles are rather unique in that they are often only found during a rain.  Male Rain Beetles are able to locate underground females that are flightless.  Perhaps Gene St. Denis, who sends us images of Rain Beetles he collects, will have some idea of the species based on your location as populations of Rain Beetles are often quite isolated.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  The great pumpkin
Geographic location of the bug:  central NJ
Date: 10/31/2018
Time: 09:40 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I don’t have a clue, but it’s about as big as the orb-spinning house spider, and orange for halloween! Descended on silk from a tree. Is that an egg sac, or an abdomen?
How you want your letter signed:  LH

Pumpkin Spider

Dear LH,
We don’t know if you are serious about your subject line, but this does appear to be a Pumpkin Spider, which is how the orange color variation of the Marbled Orbweaver,
Araneus marmoreus, is often called.  Though the Pumpkin Spider was already our Bug of the Month for December 2013, we feel that enough time has passed to honor it again, so your submission will be featured as our Bug of the Month for November 2018.  Like other Orbweavers, though there is a possibility that a large individual might inflict a bite, the Marbled Orbweaver is considered harmless.  The large abdomen of this female indicates she might still have to produce an egg sac or two before winter.

Pumpkin Spider

Thanks so much!
I’m interested in what type of webs it spins- the usual big bullseye?
This one was inside for a few days!

Is it possibly a seasonal color variation?
Hi again LH,
Yes, they build a similar orb web.  The color variation is not seasonal, but the spiders mature and become noticeable in the fall.  The hatchling spiders that emerge in the spring are very tiny and easy to overlook.
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Ed Note: We knew that we were getting close to our 25,000th posting for a few months now, and we decided to check today, but we were caught by surprise to find out we were at 24,999.  We decided to make this one special, a little different from our usual identification requests, so we decided to post the images Daniel just shot of a pair of California Mantids at the porch light, and perhaps to wax philosophically about what we hope we are accomplishing by publishing our humble site, now beginning its 16th year as a unique website.

Female California Mantis on the porch light

For years we have been running images, generally late in the season, of California Mantids attracted to the porch light to catch insects.  Male Mantids that can fly are much more common than are flightless females that have a more difficult time reaching the light, so this female was something of an anomaly.  Later in the day, she was joined by a male California Mantis who was probably attracted by her pheromones.  We thought we would take this opportunity with this significant milestone of 25,000 postings to expound a bit on our philosophy of a healthy ecosystem in the garden.  Mature predators like these Mantids catch larger insects, and adult Mantids are much more visible in the garden, but the real significance of having predators is the number of smaller insects they consume while growing.  Young Mantids, barely a centimeter in length hatch in the spring, and they perform an incalculable benefit with the large numbers of tiny insects they eat while growing.  Having a healthy population of predators in your garden throughout the year will help control many insect pests without the use of pesticides.

A pair of California Mantids

Though we have numerous identification request awaiting our attention, we have decided to take the rest of the day off and let our 25,000th posting stand alone today.  We will return tomorrow and we will try to catch up on unanswered mail.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination