Hi bug man! There has been a visitor on our screen at night that I think may be a beetle. It has 6 legs, very long antennae, a triangle shaped head, dark hard back, furry chest underneath, flies, and is 2 inches long without the antennae. It does not have the "furry" legs that cockroaches appear to have. It also made hissing noises. I’ve been trying to identify it online, without success. Any ideas? Is it dangerous? Thank you for your help!
Jennifer
California
Dear Jennifer,
It might be a California Prionus, a large beetle often attracted to lights at night. Not dangerous. Here is a photo sent in by a reader. Ranger D (see below) has also reported sounds.

Thank you!!!

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

It has been raining for days and the leaves toward the bottom of my tomato plants are starting to look yellow. Then I saw what I thought were tiny little white bugs and figured I could just pluck them off. Much to my surprise they were part of, or attached to, a very large slug like creature that had suction cupped itself to the plant. What the heck is it, or are they? What can I do to get rid of it? I also found a smaller orange like slug that I smushed. Again, what is it and what do I do about it? And then, because things come in threes, I found droppings, on the leaves, that were the size of a small childs fingernail bed. hard to tell if it is bird poop or otherwise. This is the first time I am growing vegetables and these plants were hand cultivated by good friends. I want to make sure I do the right thing…too embarrassing to let their hard work, and mine, go to the bugs.
Please help.
Many thanks!
Risa Hochroth

Dear Risa,
I wish you had sent a photo. The tiny white bugs you found were doing your job for you. It is perfect bio-warfare. They are the pupae of a type of parasitic Braconid wasp. The female wasp lays her eggs inside (using an ovipositor) the larva of a tomato hornworm, a common pest on tomatoes. It is the green sluglike creature you found. The larvae of the wasp eat the hornworm inside out, then pupate on the outside, the stage you discovered. The caterpillar then dies and the wasps mature and begin a new cycle. The Tomato Hornworm >is the caterpillar of a large moth, Manduca sexta or Manduca quinquemaculata. The larvae are identified by the horn at the posterior end and they attain a length of four or more inches and a girth equal to a human finger before burying into the ground to pupate. While in the caterpillar form, they can defoliate entire branches of a tomato plant as well as nibbling on the still green tomatoes.

Thank you.
So, if I have handpicked the two I saw, what should I do to prevent others from appearing and destroying the plant. I assume if there were 2 there are more, yes? I sprayed insecticidal soap on the foliage, but I am wondering if there is more I should do other than just keep looking for them and handpicking them off. On the web I read that I should not have killed the hornworm with the wasps, which is consistent with what you have said, but should I have left it there to have the wasps potentially kill other worms. I thought leaving them would just give them more time to eat the foliage and the tomatoes that they have already munched on. Also, once I harvest the last tomatoes, isthere anything I need to do to the soil to make sure that they are not going to be there next year?
Risa Hochroth

Hand picking is, in our opinion, the best means of control. Watch for the telltale signs, nibbled leaves and droppings, then search for the grazer. You can sift through the soil to locate the large pupae, but adults can just fly in and lay eggs. A dilligent eye is the best form of control since we do not endorse undue use of pesticides in the garden, especially on produce meant for human consumption.

Hi Bugman,
I’m hoping you can help me identify this insect. My mom planted butterfly bushes this year, and as soon they bloomed we have noticed this cute character coming to feed from the blossoms, with the butterflies. There seems to only be one of them. At least we only see one at a time. I’m attaching a pic , and can send you a couple different views if you need them It hovers, kind of like a hummingbird over the flowers. We thought it was a baby hummingbird, until we got closer to it and seen that it had antennea. Could you please help us identify him?? or her??.
thanks,
tammy d

Dear Tammy,
It is a Hummingbird Clearwing Moth, Hemaris thysbe, a type of Sphinx Moth. They are attracted to butterfly bush and are day flying moths often mistaken for hummingbirds or bees. Thank you for the great photo. We have received several letters but never an image.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

There is a butterfly-type insect with a long proboscis that drinks flower nectar – it has clear wings that flutter so fast they are almost invisible. The tail has several pretty colors like yellow and red and green and looks like a fuzzy lobster tail. I can’t identify it in any insect book. Please help – I see them about 4 times a summer. Also thanks for the ID on the house centipede. I won’t kill them anymore. Have seen two for the first time in my house. elaine

Dear Elaine,
It is a Hummingbird Clearwing Moth, Hemaris thysbe, a type of Sphinx Moth. It might also be the Snowberry Clearwing, a close relative. They are attracted to butterfly bush and are day flying moths often mistaken for hummingbirds or bees.

I live in near central Oklahoma near the SW side of OKC. We have lateral lines (picture, if you will, 4 human fingers) that extend out of our septic tank. These lateral lines disseminate throughout the ground. Which means we have four long lines of well fertilized grass. This month, those lines were extremely tall and thick. In them and flying over them were these humongous flying critters. They resembled the size of a bumblebee. They became very active when I came near the lines with the riding lawnmower. Because I couldn’t get close enough to identify them (I’m allergic to bees), I can give you a general description:
They are very “heavy” looking. The backs of them sort of had a darkblack/green sheen to them and the bottom sort of had the appearance of black and yellow although I cannot confirm this. I thought maybe they were bumblebees but I had not ever seen the dark green on a bumblebee before. Of course, I’ve only seen one bumblebee in my entire life.
There were at one time, over a hundred of these buggers flying lazily around over the grass. They concentrated in that area only. The rest of the yard was free from these insects. I didn’t know if they had built themselves a home in the grass or they were attracted to them. They did become a little more aggressive in their flying when I came near them.
However, once the tall grass was mowed down, they were gone. Have any idea what they might be?
April Harrington

Dear April,
Green June Beetles are large and green with yellow undersides. They are known to be extremely plentiful at times, especially where there is horse manure present. I would guess that your septic tank attracted them, and the eggs were laid in the rich soil. When they emerged, they did so in vast numbers. They are harmless, though somewhat frightening.

I live in near central Oklahoma near the SW side of OKC. We have lateral lines (picture, if you will, 4 human fingers) that extend out of our septic tank. These lateral lines disseminate throughout the ground. Which means we have four long lines of well fertilized grass. This month, those lines were extremely tall and thick. In them and flying over them were these humongous flying critters. They resembled the size of a bumblebee. They became very active when I came near the lines with the riding lawnmower. Because I couldn’t get close enough to identify them (I’m allergic to bees), I can give you a general description:
They are very "heavy" looking. The backs of them sort of had a darkblack/green sheen to them and the bottom sort of had the appearance of black and yellow although I cannot confirm this. I thought maybe they were bumblebees but I had not ever seen the dark green on a bumblebee before. Of course, I’ve only
seen one bumblebee in my entire life.
There were at one time, over a hundred of these buggers flying lazily around over the grass. They concentrated in that area only. The rest of the yard was free from these insects. I didn’t know if they had built themselves a home in the grass or they were attracted to them. They did become a little more aggressive in their flying when I came near them.
However, once the tall grass was mowed down, they were gone. Have any idea what they might be?
April Harrington

Dear April,
Green June Beetles are large and green with yellow undersides. They are known to be extremely plentiful at times, especially where there is horse manure present. I would guess that your septic tank attracted them, and the eggs were laid in the rich soil. When they emerged, they did so in vast numbers. They are harmless, though somewhat frightening.
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