Dear Bugman,
What is the scientific name for rollie pollies and what do they eat? Are the on the website?
Thanks. Mom Adams

Dear Mom Adams,
We just got a question about Pill Bugs or Sow Bugs, which are Isopods, not true insects. The common Pill Bug goes by the scientific name Armadillidium vulgare. They are omniverous and eat young and decaying plant material. We had not heard of the common name Rollie Pollie until our student Betina mentioned it. Thank you for reaffirming that local term.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Hello –
I’ve just spent a fascinating hour roaming around your site. I’m hoping you can help me identify a bug I photographed on one of my crabapple trees last summer here in Manitoba. It seems similar to some of the assassin bugs, but I haven’t been able to find anything quite like it. I have attached a photo.
Thanks in advance,

Hi Doug,
Yours is one of the most beautiful photographs we have ever received. I can tell you this. You have an image of a True Bug or Hemipteran. According to Weiping at the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History, it is probably a Broad Headed Bug, Family Coriscidae. Even though they aren’t true Stink Bugs, they often stink worse than members of that family. I’m sorry we are unable to give you an exact species name, but we will continue to work on it. I found one insect online that seems to resemble your photo. It is Megalotomus quinquespinosus.

Hi Daniel – Thanks for looking at it. I really appreciate the info. Thanks as well for your kind words about the photo on your website. I got a nikon cp990 about a year and a half ago and I’ve been really enjoying its closeup capabilities (If you ever need a few dozen photos of grasshoppers…). Thanks again, – Doug

Dear Bugman,
Hi. I’m getting married May 1, 2004 in lovely N. Virginia and am planning an outside reception. Someone mentioned recently that the secadas are due to come out this year and they start right around that time. Please advise if you think this is the case or if there are certain treatments you can have done or certain candles or lights you can have to turn them away. Please help me 🙂 BTW – what exactly is a secada?
Many thanks.

Dear MK,
According to our sources, Brood X of the 17 Year Cicada or Periodical Cicada, Magicicada septendecim, is due to emerge this year. They are noisy, but will not attack your wedding guests. Nothing will keep them away. Here is information I am reprinting from the National Geographic website:

“Get ready, Brood X is coming. This May billions of black, shrimp-size bugs with transparent wings and beady red eyes will carpet trees in the U.S. from the eastern seaboard west through Indiana and south to Tennessee. By the end of June they’ll be gone, not to be heard from or seen again for 17 years. “Many people view them with horror or as an aberration and don’t appreciate that they are a natural part of our eastern forests,” said John Cooley, a cicada expert at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. The bugs belong to the largest group, or brood, of periodical cicadas-insects that spend most of their lives as nymphs, burrowed underground and sucking sap from tree roots. They emerge once every 17 years, transform into adults, do the business of reproduction, and then die.”

Thanks. The Washington Post and NYT have both printed recent articles.
Thanks again.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Good morning,
I’ve had a keckuva time identifying this insect I saw yesterday (February 29) in hordes flying above a freshwater creek in Maryland. Any idea? Sorry it’s a blurry picture, it’s the best I could do. The insect has two dark bands. They were doing lots of flying and appeared to be dropping into the water from above and then skittering across the surface of the water by flapping their wings. They were about 3/4" not including their antennae.
Thanks a lot!

Dear Vicki,
I believe you are absolutely right in your identification of a Stonefly, Plecoptera species. There are some 200 species of Stoneflies. Often adults appear in great numbers in the spring. They are poor fliers and are seldom found far from water. They lay their eggs in the water and the nymphs are aquatic. Thank you for providing a photo of our first stonefly for a new page.

Dear Daniel,
Thanks so much for writing back! You have a great web site and I’ve really enjoyed it. With 200 species of stoneflies, you could see how I needed an expert eye. I saw the flies while kayaking on Tuckahoe Creek on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The highlight of my day, though (other than seeing an otter) was finding a cocoon of a Polyphemus Moth, which I took a picture of and left to dangle patiently on its limb for a few more months.
Thanks very much again!

Need help with a beetle ID
I came across this beetle today at Cockroach Bay preserve which is part of Tampa Bay. The reserve is near Ruskin, Florida and the beetle was in a very sandy area with some scrub grassland with intermintent wildflowers and weeds. I know much more about birds and butterflies…but from what I could gather this may be some sort of stag beetle? It was good sized…maybe 1.5 inches in length or so. Any input on this beetle would be great!
Colin Gjervold
Sarasota, FL

Dear Colin,
I must confess I am intrigued by a place called Cockroach Bay and I’m not entirely sure I want to visit it. Your photo, on the other hand, is a new one for us. We checked with our expert at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles, Weiping, who writes: “Sorry to answer you so late. I took yesterday off for vacation. This image is not a Dorcus parallelus. You can see five tarsi on the hind leg. I am sure it is belonging to Carabus sp. (Coleoptera: Carabidae), probably from Asia..”
Ed. Note:
(09/06/2004) Eric, another of our beetle experts, just wrote in saying: “The Carabus sp. from Cockroach Bay, FL is actually a species of Pasimachus. Neat!”
Since we always defer to more knowledgeable experts, we will include both possibilities.

Update: (08/22/2006)
Hello Lisa Anne and Daniel, I recently came across your website and I was pleased to see such a vibrant (and well-done) site. I’m an entomologist and evolutionary biologist (specializing on the systematics, taxonomy and evolution of tiger beetles and their close relatives) and I have to say that I’m impressed with your accuracy rate! It’s much, much better than other comparable sites I’ve come across over the years. The two of you must really love insects. In any case, I noticed that you are open to information from specialists, so I thought I’d give you a few ID’s of species that I came across on your pages. I was having trouble sleeping, so I went through all of the tiger beetles, scaratines, etc and checked them out. Here you go: I’ll bookmark your site and check it out when I’m having trouble sleeping again!
“Pasimachus possibly, or Carabus species (02/29/2004) Need help with a beetle ID” This is most definitely a Pasimachus! (you can omit the exclamation point and the following if you want to print this, but that beetle is unequivocally a Pasimachus, not a Carabus. Those two genera are very easy to separate from even a photograph on the basic of many characters such as antennal length and form, head width and shape, mandible length/shape, pronotal shape, etc.) It is Pasimachus marginatus at that, a lovely species found in Florida and other parts of the Southeast.
Daniel P. Duran
Dept. of Biological Sciences
Vanderbilt University
Nashville, TN

What the hell is this Bug?

It is some type of dead and sqashed Orthopteran, probably a grasshopper. Though the body is very short, the long straight wings and long jumping legs indicate some type of grasshopper. Your coin is unfamiliar, and you gave no location, so any attempt at an exact species is impossible.

Update: (05/30/2006) Recently, upon receiving additional images of this Crested Katydid, we properly identified it on our Katydid page. This letter just arrived though.
I can ID both the coin and the ‘hopper on your 02/19/2004 entry It’s the crested Grasshopper (Alectoria superba family Tettigonidae) and is a native of central Australia as is the Australian 10 cent coin shown with it! Actually – no need as I see several other people have already done so ahead of me. I liked the site tho’
Martyn Robinson

Hi Martyn,
Thanks to your letter, we realized we still had an unidentified image of the Crested Katydid remaining on the grasshopper page. We have posted your letter and cleaned up our classification.