Dear What’s that Bug,
The ants which have invaded my boyfriend’s apartment have a special love for my panties. Every morning, I find that the previous day’s pair has been invaded by an army of panty-crazy ants. I know that it is most likely the delightful scent I impart to this intimate clothing which attracts these lustful insects, but I find the whole situation to be a bit distasteful. Is there anything I can do to keep the anties away from my panties?
Ant Bait
Dear Sugar Snatch,
I don’t think you want to resort to spraying your panties with Raid™ or some other insecticide, and I also don’t think your boyfriend would appreciate you changing your delightful personal aroma. I think the solution is to pick up after yourself and not leave your panties strewn about the floor where the ants can find them. You can also try washing them by hand and hanging them to dry so that you have a fresh pair of panties after your sleep-over.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Help! I have just found your website which I hope will be my saviour. I have a wee problem here in my flat in Edinburgh. This "problem" is a brown creepy crawly thing which seems to like catfood. Whenever I put the catfood back down on the floor for the cats these things seem to put in an appearance. They seem to be more nocturnal, appearing after dark, so that I find them only when I go into the kitchen at night – and there they are hoovering up the cat food that the messy little eaters have spilt on the floor (cats have no table manners!). There are loads of them and despite me cleaning the floor with bleach several times a week, they reappear with annoying regularity.
They are brown on top and whitish underneathand appear to be ridged making them look a bit maggoty. They have legs and can be various sizes – up to 2cm long. What are these things and more importantly how do I get rid of them. They must be "nesting" under the floorboards as there is nowhere else they can be coming from. I have tried moving the cats food to other parts of the kitchen but they always seem to find it. URGH!!! I am at my wits end and would like to get rid of these things before the poor cats go mad trying to work out where I have decided to put their food this time. I don’t think they enjoy this game very much! Your help and advice on how to eradicate these pests from my home PERMANENTLY would be hugely appreciated.

Dear Lesley,
From the time mankind has lived in caves, we have been annoyed by household pests. In his usual charming manner, Hogue writes in his chapter on household pests: "Unwelcome guests within our homes, stealing our food and wrecking our possessions, and sometimes repaying us with bites and stings–these are the insect pests. … A need for shelter, food, or a nesting place, attraction to lights, or perhaps the enticement of shade and food odors–and not a conscious desire to bother us–bring these guests to our door. In spite of screening, entry is easy for most insects: their small size permits them to squeeze through small cracks in the flooring, around baseboards, and under doors and through other imperfections in construction."
With that said Lesley, no matter what you do, you will have household intruders. Regarding the identification of your brown creepy crawly thing, I suspect pill bugs or sow bugs. They are not true insects, but rather members of the order Isopoda and the subphylum Crustacea. Pill bugs are so called because of their habit of rolling into a little ball. Sow bugs are generally larger and cannot roll themselves up into a ball. Sow bug can grow as large as 15mm. They are nocturnal, omniverous and can be very numerous, sometimes experiencing population explosions. They are generally found outdoors in the garden, but they will take refuge inside the home, especially when it is dry. I would guess that you feed your cats near a water source, and a leaking pipe with the resulting rotting wood, could well be the reason the ispods have taken up quarters in your flat. Because of their distasteful secretions, these isopods are eaten by few predators. A notable exception is the sow bug killer, a dysderid spider, Dysdera crocota.

Dear WTB,
I encountered a different looking bug this morning, and have been trying to search the net for pictures, but have been unsuccessful, and was hoping you could help. The body of the spider was an oval-oblong shape and beige, or tan in color, and the head was small and red and the legs appeared to be coming out in between the head and body and they were also red in color. I thought it a little strange that the legs were not spread out along the body. I live in the Denver Co. area, if that helps. Any photos would be great too.

Dear K,
That is the second letter today with the same spider. The other was from the UK. You saw a Sow Bug Killer, Dysdera crocota. They are one of the few predators that will eat sow bugs which have an unleasant taste. They sometimes bite people, but the bite is not serious. They are beneficial.

Thank you for your reply. Would you happen to have a photo of the sow bug
killer? I have tried looking for one, but cannot find one.
Thank You

Hi K,
I’ve enclosed the photo. Let us know if that was your spider.

Sorry for the delay.
That is the spider.
Thanks for your help.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Dear What’s that Bug,
On vacation a few weeks ago we spotted quite a big, wonderful insect, but we’re note able to find it in any of our books. Can you tell more about it ? The most impressing thing was it’s size, it’s really huge for an insect I think… We found it in the french pyrenees at about 1800 mtr height, walking in the grass. It looks grasshopper-like at first glance. has six green legs, but the hind legs are not really bigger then te rest as with regular grasshoppers. It didn’t seem to jump, just walked. The body is mainly green with yellowish segments or rings, totally about 5 or 6 cm long, 1.5 cm thick. No wings, and a large scary-looking brown ‘needle’ at it’s back (about 2 cm long ?). Head and body are separated by a brownish stiff-looking joint. Any idea what this could be ?

Dear Ico,
My guess is a member of the order Orthoptera, which includes crickets, grasshoppers, mantids and the like. No wings implies an immature or nymph stage. It could be a walking stick or even a French praying "preying" mantis. A more detainled description, or better yet, a photo, would help.

I saw that someone asked about a bug spotted in the French Pyrenees. It seems to be the same kind we saw this autumn. See image at the bottom of: . After some investigations we found that it is a female Ephippiger Ephippiger (I think it is called saddle-backed bush cricket in English) The brown "stick" is the egg laying tube.
Jorun Boklöv

I found a beetle while hiking the woods in Plymouth Massachusetts. It looks like a big japanese beetle with what looks like a shield or hood behind its head, and has a horn like a rhino. It’s about 3/4 long. It was found near scrub oaks and fields. It’s dead probably from the cold. Any idea what it might be?

Dear Ken,
You made a good call all around. Not only does your beetle look like a rhinoceros, it is named for one. The rhinoceros beetle, Xyloryctes jamaicensis, and its relatives the ox beetle and the unicorn beetle, are all horned members of the scarab beetle family which includes dung beetles, june beetles and japanese beetles. Check out this website for more information:

Dear Mr. Bug Man,
These live in my compost pile. They seem to be good for the decomposition, because they eat the contents of the pile and excrete them in a much-broken-down-form. But: what the hell? Big as my pinkie. Jerusalem Cricket?
Sean Dungan

Dear Sean,
Despite the suspiciously similar appearance to the killer "graboids" from the movie Tremors, your grub is just a grub, in this case the larval form of the Green Fruit Beetle (Cotinus mutabilis). Any observant insect watcher in Southern California, Arizona or Mexico has surely seen these enormous metalic green scarabs which take flight in August and September, buzzing noisily and circling clumsily in their search for fruit, namely figs, peaches, apricot
s, nectarines, grapes and cactus fruit which is the wild host plant. Originally native to Arizona and New Mexico, the beetle has moved west and is now relatively common in the Los Angeles Basin. Eggs are laid in compost piles, and the grubs, which can reach 2 inches in length, are sometimes called "crawly-backs" because of their method of locomotion, which involves undulating the body and pushing against the substratum with short stout bristles on the back of the thorax. The grubs feed on decaying vegetation, and are beneficial to the compost pile.

We have Hundreds maybe Thousands on the ground and
all over our house. Please help us as my 6 and 4 year olds are scared and me too!

We were unable to anwer this reader who should be somewhat afraid of Blister Beetles which can cause a skin reaction.