While walking briskly throught the canyon today, we noticed this Ironclad Beetle, Phloedes diabolicus, ambling across our path. Our first inclination was to move it out of harm’s way so an oblivious hiker or a malicious entomophobe wouldn’t step on it and crush it, despite its name which alludes to the extremely hard body. On second thought, we turned around, scooped up the beetle and returned home to our digital camera to take some photos. After the photo session, we returned the beetle to the canyon. Adult Phloedes diabolicus beetles grow to about an inch in length. They are found under the bark of dead trees, especially oaks, and are thought to feed on fungus ridden wood. A similar species, Phloedes pustolosus is a dull grayish black with the bases and apices of the elytra whitish. Phloedes diabolicus is entirely black.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Is Dan around? I have a new bug. This thing is about 1.25 to 1.5 inches long, not including antennae. Actual size, on my computer. I bought another little digital camera. It takes crappy up-close photos, apparently. 🙁

Hi Chris,
You have one of the Borer Beetles, Family Cerambycidae. My best guess is a Western Pine Sawyer, Ergates spiculatus. Males have longer antennae. The dark head and prothorax and the lighter elytra or wing covers are a good indication of the species. Your specimen is small. Large males will reach 2 1/4 inches. They are attracted to lights. The eggs are laid in dead pine and the larvae which take two or three years to mature, are generally found in trees dead more than a year. Adults sometimes visit flowers for pollen. Dan, one of our beetle experts writes back: “daniel yup looks like ergates to me i wouldn’t refer to this as a pine sawyer though. Pine Sawyers are in the genus monochamus (much smaller) dan”

There you go. I looked up ergates spiculatus after receiving your email and the pictures that come up look pretty much like the beetle I had. They sound relatively harmless. It might have been a “small” one, but it was big enough. It surprised me pretty good…almost as much as the first Jerusalem Cricket I found.

American Homebody, our mother site, just sent in this photo of a female Black Widow spider spotted in their Jefferson Park offices.

(01/31/2004) Not True but False Widow

Great site!
Have a question about black widows. When we lived in the New Orleans area, we saw several spiders that were black and shaped just like a black widow, but had red markings on the top side of the abdomen.
I have not been able to find anything online that resembles them , and thought you might be able to help.
Mary P

Hi Mary,
First, the red hourglass is on the under side of the abdomen. There is a spider known as the False Widow, Steatoda grossa. Both the true and false widows belong to the Comb Footed Spider Family Theridiidae. The False Widow is a beneficial spider, reported to prey on its more poisonous relative. It also eats Sow Bugs. It is a hardier spider than the true Black Widow. We find them in our yard all the time, and will take a photo the next time.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

this one bites me Hi. Pls. (!) tell me the species name. They have been biting my legs when I mow for too long now! They have hundreds of webs all over the lawn which are characterized by a funnel or cone down which they retreat.
Tnks! Shaun

Dear Shaun,
Grass Spiders are members of the Funnel-web Spider Family, Agelenidae. Your spider looks like a Grass Spider, Agelena naevia. It is a large spider, often reaching an inch in length. They build abundant webs of the funnel type in grass, low shrubs and occasionally near buildings. Few people realize how many webs are in the grass until the webs are made visible in the morning by the dew. Grass Spiders live for a year and often occupy the same web unless it it disturbed. They have a retreat in the web, the funnel, where they hide until prey falls into the web. They then run accross the web and drag their prey into the tunnel, which often has a rear door if the spider needs to retreat. We suspect your bites have a different cause. Have you actually seen the spider attack you?

Thank you Daniel for this. While I have yet to actually see one bite me, I have to strongly suspect this may be the villain. I have two or more years track record of bites on my legs. No-one else in our family experiences this. This is an outdoor/a summertime specific phenomenon. After mowing I come in, and bites begin appearing that day and over the days following. Last year I had ten. I do not wish to repeat that. Almost all the webs (there were/are many) on the lawn, made visible by the morning dew as you quite rightly say, are of the funnel variety. What else would be doing this? As a person who is allergic to a number of things, I feel fairly confident this (correct me if I am wrong) relatively harmless villain is something to whose bite I experience an allergic reaction. There usually is a necrotic or cytotoxic reaction unless the bites are responded to promptly with effective medication. ‘Save me’ if my discomfort is pushing me into a rush to judgement or knee-jerk type of thing, although my thoughts on this ‘aggressor’ here is ‘if the shoe fits, wear it!’ Did you think of anything further in the light of all this? When the web page wouldn’t open (the error message said something to the effect of: ‘the site has exceeded monthly quotas,’ and that seemed to me to be odd as we are approximately in the middle of the month) I ‘googled,’ and google had a cached page. Scrolling down the left hand side ‘revealed’ your address, so this was how I was able to reach you. I was crushed when I had finally gotten the photo and couldn’t find the site, something I had originally done via a portal, the Microsoft Network or msn.com home page search utility. Cordially, Shaun

Hi Shaun,
While the Grass Spider is normally thought of as harmless, it is entirely possible that you have a sensitive reaction. All spiders have venom and all are capable of biting. Sadly, we are willing to agree with your theory.

I hope all is well with you. Last night I saw this big guy hovering around the flood light on the back of my house. I tried to get better pictures, but he moved around pretty fast.
Best Regards,
Ed Cogan

Hi Ed,
Thank you for the photo of a Fishfly, Chauliodes species. These are relatives of Dobsonflies, both belonging to the family Corydalidae. They can be recognized because of their comblike antennae. Larvae are aquatic predators, and it is likely that adults do not feed.

I use World’s Best Cat Litter. It’s an organic product made from corn. I have bought bags before that contained these small, elongated, lighter brown, hard, beetle type bugs. They don’t seem to be able to fly. I think they might develop into some sort of tiny moth, because I have seen the little (tiny!) moths in the litter enclosure, but nowhere else. I have tried freezing the bag before I use it in the litter box, but sometimes this does not work. What are these bugs and how do I get rid of them? Are they harmful to my cat? Could they get into the rest of the house? Sorry I don’t have a picture.
Christa Moeller

Dear Christina,
Both meal moths and pantry beetles will infest stored corn. Neither will harm your cats, but they may invade stored grain products in your pantry.