White bug with extended growths
Location: Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia
November 12, 2010 6:30 pm
Hi, We saw this bug in Sabah, Borneo in October. It was about 1” long and wide.
It seemed to have grown silk-like filaments that have bound together (rastafari-style), perhaps as protection to make it look too big to eat.
Thanks Frank D
Signature: Frank D.

Fulgorid Planthopper Nymph

Dear Frank,
Though we are uncertain of the exact species, this is a Planthopper in the family Fulgoridae, and it is an immature nymph.  This family is often characterized by nymphs that secrete a waxy substance that often forms long filaments, presumably for protection.

I have updated the description on my web page to reflect your ID.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Miniscule (nearly microscopic) ant-like bugs?
Location: Midtown Manhattan, New York City
November 13, 2010 2:43 am
My kitchen countertop near the faucets has become home to miniscule – nearly microscopic – ant-like creatures. They are so teeny that my camera on the most powerful setting couldn’t capture them. I had to catch some with tape and then scan the tape. The attached photo is the best I could get – it appears to be two of them, one larger than the other.
I found thousands of these entities amassed under a small marble slat that I had sitting on the countertop. The marble was removed and thrown out but these creatures continue to habitate the countertop particularly near an faucet area.
Signature: Mystified


Dear Mystified,
You have Springtails, generally regarded as the most common hexapods on the planet.  They are important in soil as they help to break down organic matter, creating humus which increases the fertility of the earth.  In the home, they are often attracted to damp and dark places, generally in the kitchen and bathroom, where they are thought to feed upon mold.  Though they might be considered a nuisance if they appear in large numbers, they are benign creatures.

Dear Daniel,
THANK YOU for taking your valuable time to identify and explain these creatures.
I really appreciate it!
You have a fabulous and helpful site.

Is it a sallow moth?
Location: Los Angeles, CA
November 12, 2010 6:50 pm
I saw this moth on the wall of the library a short while ago. It’s not green at all, but the markings looked similar to the sallow moth, but probably it’s not. Can you help me identify it?
By the way, thanks so much for WTB and The Curious World of Bugs. Each time I start reading the book or the site, I learn something new and amazing.
Signature: Z.

Painted Tiger Moth

Hi Z.,
This little beauty is known as a Painted Tiger Moth,
Arachnis picta, and it is a relatively common species in Southern California.  Each year in the late fall and early winter, numerous individuals are attracted to the porch light at our Mt Washington, Los Angeles offices.  We frequently see and photograph mating pairs and females laying eggs.  The eggs hatch in about 10 days and after a first meal of the egg shell, the minuscule caterpillars disperse, becoming general feeders of the Woolly Bear type.  We are happy to hear that you are enjoying and learning from both the website and Daniel’s book.

Thank you so much for replying me so soon.
All the best,

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Unknown bug in human skin (blood too?)
Location: Sierra Foothills, S. Central California
November 12, 2010 4:51 pm
I somehow got infested with a small bug that is NOT 8 legged (i.e. tick, crab,
scabies, bed-bug,etc.) but in its larger state looks more like a caraway seed with one end rounded. The smaller versions look the same. Some are speck sized. They have burrowed under my skin and will only come up when I apply bleach, Comet (that’s how I found out they were bugs and not thorns) or rubbing alcohol. My MD is baffled and I have consulted an Infectious Disease specialist who has sent samples (obtained after my GP gave me a parasite remover that I had to swallow (4 of them) on an empty stomach.
The specialist says she can’t identify them – or wouldn’t identify them until we got a lab report back. My secondary symptoms include SEVERE pain that radiates from the base of my skull down my neck and right shoulder. I’ve had to go to my MD for pain shot relief. She also gave me an anti-spasm, anti-inflammatory drug that seems to help. No one has EVER heard of this and, the specialist is so blaze’ about it, she didn’t even put a rush to the lab. There appear to be thousands of them in my skin and blood. (No exaggeration here.) I am going out of my mind. The little ones crawl out of my skin – especially when I’m hot (I have a jacket
or sweatshirt on) and I find them in my bedding in the morning or embedded in my
underpants. She said that they are NOT transferable, but I’m out on disability until we can know, for certain, what they are and how to kill them. My MD has ordered a CAT scan of my head (next Tuesday 11/16). I really can’t tell you much more about the bug, but it appears to have two translucent ”feeler”-like appendages that come out of the pointy end and sometimes stick out of my skin. (Breathing tubes?) I can’t see for certain, but I suspect that they have little, short legs on the sides of their ”caraway seed” shaped body and the larger ones have visible
lines that run across the bug (horizontally). They are both black and also rusty brown color. I haven’t been out of the country, but I do live next to a small river (Tule River) that has a pretty stagnant part on my land that I’ve had to wade into to clean off my pump filter. At this point I don’t have a clue where it came from. I just want it gone, and I’m loosing my mind. I also forgot to mention that I’m somewhat bug-phobic. HELP (if you can). I don’t think the photo I’m sending will be of any help. My digital just won’t give it the clarity. Just for reference, I shot the picture on a 8-1/2 X 11” piece of paper that I folded into quarter sized (4ths). I believe I’ve had this infestation for over a year, but just recognized them as ”bugs”.
Signature: Frantic in the Foothills

Unknown Parasite

Dear Frantic in the Foothills,
We sympathize with your infestation, but we are at a loss as to what this could be.  We are not medical specialists and we are very reluctant to give health advice.  We are quite curious what the specialist determines regarding this matter.

Dear Daniel,
Thank you for your response, even though you can’t identify the bug.  I have to admit the
photograph wasn’t the least bit helpful.  I did, however, just buy a microscope that has a
digital camera attached, so maybe you can at least identify the “bug”.  I firmly believe it
came from the water and not the land.  I don’t expect you to diagonse my infestation
(that’s why I’ve consulted an Infectious Disease Specialist), but knowing what the bug
(worm?) is would give me a kick-start.
At any rate, I’ll certainly let you know when I find out.  This is one for the books.  I’m going
to bypass the book and go straight to the screenplay.
Thanks again for responding.  Most sites would have just blown me off.
Frantic in the Foothills (aka Jan)

Hi again Jan,
We wish you the best of luck in eliminating this problem and would be more than happy to post any updates you are able to provide including better quality images.  We try not to be alarmist but we cannot help but ponder how things like global travel and global warming are affecting the range expansion of species that once had isolated distributions.  Tropical diseases like West Nile Virus and Invasive Exotic species like the Emerald Ash Borer are wreaking havoc in areas where they have been introduced.  Water is a well documented method for the transference of pathogens there are numerous diseases that incorporate complex life cycles that include multiple unrelated hosts.  We are sorry we are unable to provide you with any concrete diagnosis.

Update from Commenter Julie:  May 9, 2014
Mine has cleared up. After seeing the dermatologist and seeing that they were indeed fibres, I rented a sunbed and after a few days all itching stopped thank god!! Still not convinced a parasite wasnt involved at some level, no reason for fibres to be getting into my skin if they werent being taken in, however, at present I am symptom free…touch wood!!

Update from Commenter John:  February 14, 2016
I am sorry your life is filled with so many troubles caused by these horrible creatures. I would like to have some doctor that called you crazy come and live in your house for a few days so they could experience what you do. But, for some reason, they just want to ignore these things and pretend that all of us are simply crazy.
My creatures infest my garage and fogging seems to make them angry. I can’t even open the door to the garage without being swarmed and then the itching and stinging begins. Like you I clean everything and spray every plastic and vinyl surface with 409 and then bleach and wipe it off to get rid of whatever it is so I can sit down without going crazy. I have had some good luck with tea tree oil on my body so I can sleep. I shower and wash my head with shampoo and rinse really hard. Then use conditioner which rinses out a lot of the creatures because they often sting me on their way down my face and body. Finally, I use tea tree oil shampoo to which I add about a quarter ounce off tea tree oil. I shampoo that in vigorously and leave it on for a while and rinse it out completely. I use the tea tree oil shampoo on my spots where I have a rash from these creatures too.
I dry off and towel dry my hair. Then I mix a small amount of cream with a small amount of tea tree oil and rub that into my hair and scalp. I let that dry naturally. I mix another batch and spread that on my rash. When I get ready for bed I sleep with a glad garbage bag over my pillow taped shut to enclose the pillow. I sleep on the garbage bag because cloth pillowcases seem to be good homes for my creatures and I itch all night. Each night I wash off the garbage bag with Clorox bleach cleaner and let it dry then go to bed. I sleep when I do this. My wife had me try just putting lotion on my head instead of my routine of tea tree oil but after a couple of hours of itching and scratching I showered again and did my routine with tea tree oil, replaced my garbage bag pillowcase and then I could sleep.
This life is close to torture. I am getting a hazmat suit and respirator, a compressor, paint sprayer and a gallon of tea tree oil and ivermectin and spraying my garage over and over until the darn things are gone from my garage.
Best wishes for a life without these creatures of yours,

Scorpionfly in Ambush Position
Location: North Burnett. Queensland. Australia
November 12, 2010 10:50 pm
Hi guys,
Thought you may like this Scorpionfly, in the family Bittacidae, hanging in the ambush position. Any insect flying into the strike zone is not coming out again.
In this shot it is easy to see the large claw which it uses to capture and grip prey. It hangs from grass stems and waits for unsuspecting insects to fly near and then grabs them with its claws. They are the only insect to use this method to capture prey.
The name come from the habit of the male curling the abdomen like a scorpion. They are not true flies however as they have four wings.
Signature: aussietrev

Scorpionfly AKA Hangingfly

Hi Trevor,
In North American, Scorpionflies in the Family Bittacidae are known as Hangingflies and we have a few photos in our archives and there are numerous images on BugGuide, but none can compare to your image that so superbly illustrates the threat that awaits any hapless flying insects that flutters into the path of this unusual predator.  According to BugGuide, they:  “Hang by front and middle legs from low plants, and use hind legs to capture passing prey.
”  Upon tying to find a link to an Australian species, we found your awesome photograph gracing the Insects of Brisbane website page on Scorpionflies, and we noticed the name Hanging Fly used.  The typical North American rule of thumb for common insect names is to create a compound word with fly for flying insects that are not true flies, like Dobsonfly or Butterfly, and to indicate the name with two words for true flies like Crane Fly or Deer Fly.  There are exceptions like Gadfly which is sometimes used for a Horse Fly.  The photo you have posted on the Insects of Brisbane website documents the unusual mating behavior where the male attracts the female by presenting her with a nuptial gift of food.  Dare we be so bold as to say what a lovely addition that image would be to our Bug Love page?

Hi Daniel,
Unfortunately the image on Peter’s site was lost in a hard drive crash. Feel free to copy the image from Peter’s page if you wish or you may be able to email him and see if he still has the higher resolution original that I sent him. If I get a chance of another mating ritual shot I’ll send it through to you.

Ed. Note: Trevor quickly located the lost image and forwarded it so that we could make it a unique post.

Little mayfly tempting me to skip work
Location: Yakima, WA
November 12, 2010 6:53 pm
I came into my office one morning in late March and found this little Baetis mayfly, or ”blue winged olive” as anglers know them, on my computer screen, tempting me to blow off work and go fly fishing. Oh, well, Windows is known to be buggy.
Signature: Paul Huffman, President-for-Life, Moclips Surf Club

Blue Winged Olive: A Mayfly

Hi again Paul,
There can never be too many opportunities to hang the “Gone Fishing” sign.  Thanks for relaying the Blue Winged Olive moniker.  We will link to the genus
Baetis on BugGuide.