Currently viewing the category: "Aphids, Scale Insects, Leafhoppers, and Tree Hoppers"

I need your help please. Where I live in California, my house in like in the middle of a field. With some trees around the house and for grass it’s all dried old weeds no green grass! We just started cleaning the yard (field) up and besides wolf spiders, and earwigs and ants etc. we’ve noticed a lot of these bugs that fly leap from the weeds and trees. I want to call them ticks but I haven’t found a tick picture that looks like these. They are brown and also bright neon green. The body is hard and the head is like a triangle. Please help me soooooooon if you can. Thanks.
Up to my knees in bugs.

Dear Knees,
You are being bothered by leaf hoppers Family Cicadellidae or spittle bugs Family cercopidae, both of which will feed off the sap of plants but will not harm people. Spittle Bugs leave frothy foam on plant stems that resembles spittle and serves as a shelter for the feeding nymphs.

Hi Bugman,
I read through your website and still am not able to find what this creature is!!! I spent last night surfing the web, trying to find out more information, but still no luck. You’re my last resort, Bugman! My husband and I came home to find 2 of these on our garage floor. It’s by far the largest bug I’ve ever seen! It measures about 1.5 inches long (see picture). I thought it was some sort of beetle or cockroach, but apparently not. My friend did more research and thought it was the (rare?) Stag Beetle. But it doesn’t match the description. We live in Massachusetts. I’m not sure how common this bug is, or if it’s even harmful at all. I know you’re busy right now, what with summer and all, but I’d appreciate any help you can give us! Great website, by the way!
Freaked out in Massachusetts.

ear Freaked Out,
It is a Stag Beetle. I know there are reddish varieties, but I have only seen black ones. Perhaps the red beetles you found are a subspecies of Pseudoleucanus capreolus. The photos are beautiful. They are not harmful, though can deliver a mild pinch with those formidable jaws on the male beetle. The grubs eat rotting wood. One of the few items in our gift shop right now is a stag beetle t-shirt.

More about the aphids:
Many of you read with disgust the following account about the aphids found in a sandwich purchased from Wild Oats on Sunday. On Monday, we called the offending store and spoke to the manager, who apologized for the infestation and promised to look into the matter. Sharon and I returned to the rocky waters and ordered a couple of new sandwiches, which we got sans lettuce. And we were happy to meet Bobby, the deli counter guy who is a self-described "lettuce nazi." I hope he’s also an "aphid nazi."

April 15, 2002

Uninvited Guest
I didn’t write "What’s That Bug?," because when I discovered this critter, "What’s That Bug?" was sitting right next to me.
For those of you who didn’t hear my piercing screams last night (which carried for miles), the picture above shows the extra protein which was included in a turkey sandwich which I’d purchased from Wild Oats in Pasadena last night. The hitchhiker was immediately identified as an aphid. Also included within the two whole wheat slices was a deader version of this critter, which is what prompted a more thorough investigation of the meal in the first place.
Buff Charlie, who eats both lunch and dinner daily at this fine natural grocery store, strode powerfully to the store and got to the bottom of the infestation. He chastised the staff, and forced them to remove all lettuce from the deli section. "It’s a good idea to always look at your food before eating it," a friendly employee advised him.
That’s good advice, especially when munching on produce. Here in the AH backyard, our lettuce is home to all manner of hungry beasts. Rhonda is always out smushing slugs and grasshoppers. But once our garden produce enters the home, we are no longer playing games with the pests. They are removed, completely. None are pardoned.
I can only wonder why Wild Oats doesn’t share this philosophy of cleanliness and death. Is this what "organic" means these days?

Thanks, Daniel, for grossing me out even more! Buggy anal sugar! EWWW! This unsolicitated letter was received this morning:

Dear American Homebody,
Though no official question has been posed, I thought it was my duty to inform you of some aphid facts since your very recent experience with tainted lettuce on a store bought, organic sandwich. No one knows better than Hogue, who writes "Aphids (Family Aphidae) Aphids are notorious pests of cultivated plants. Prolific breeders, they swiftly spread over the tender growing tips of prize roses and other plants, from which they withdraw large quantities of sap. The result is a wilted, curled, and unsightly mass of leaves or a dead plant. The aphid’s harm is increased by its habit of copiously excreting from the anus a sugary solution called ‘honeydew,’ which covers the host plant with a sticky unsightly residue that often becomes blackened with a growth of sooty mold. Aphids also transmit viral diseases to plants. … Aphids are remarkable for their peculiar modes of reproduction and development, which involve polymorphism (the capability of assuming different body forms). They display life cycles so complicated and varied that they are impossible to summarize here. Parthenogenesis (the development of unfertilized eggs), viviparity (the bearing of live young), and winged and wingless generations are common reproductive phenomena."
One can only guess that the designer store in question found it too costly to clean their organic lettuce in Evian, so they neglected to do so at all to keep the harmful tap water chemicals from their chemical free produce.

Dear Mr. Marlos,
Do you have any secret tips or tricks for repelling aphids? They have completely colonized my cucumber patch, and look like they’re headed for the corn or beans next. I’ve tried organic "safer soap" and lady bugs, but these nasty bugs are BADASS. hould I cut my losses and rip out the cucumbers for the safety of the rest of the garden?
Infested in Silverlake

Dear Infested,
Try a garden hose directly on the affected areas. The aphids will wash off with the water jet and die without a food source. Diligence is important as winged adults can always return, but the nymphs are goners.