From the monthly archives: "March 2011"

Trying to Identify….
Location: Slidell Louisiana
March 31, 2011 8:15 pm
This cluster of black caterpillars was on my oak tree & I cant figure out what its name is. Any Help would be appreciated.
Signature: Thank You Karen

Buck Moth Caterpillars

Hi Karen,
Though your photo does not have much detail, we believe that based on the general appearance of the caterpillars, their communal feeding, and the host tree of Oak, that these are Buck Moth Caterpillars,
Hemileuca maia, based on photos and information posted to BugGuide.  Handle Buck Moth Caterpillars with caution as they are a stinging species.

Boxelder nymph?
Location: Hidalgo County, TX
March 31, 2011 5:01 pm
Found this guy and some others which were much smaller than it running across my backyard garden.
Photo taken 3/30/2011 at 6:21pm.
Searching around, the closest I can tell is that it might be a Boxelder bug, but the markings on the abdomen are a bit different. As it is not a fully mature adult, I’m not sure what it is, hence the supposition of it being a Boxelder Nymph.
Signature: Kevin Ramsey

Large Milkweed Bug Nymph

Hi Kevin,
Many immature True Bugs are difficult to distinguish from one another, but we agree that this is not a Boxelder Bug Nymph.  We believe it is the nymph of a Large Milkweed Bug,
Oncopeltus fasciatus.  You can compare you image to this image on BugGuide.

What kind of beetle is this?
Location: Sheffield, Massachusetts, The Berkshires
March 31, 2011 11:02 am
I’m having a lot of fun on your page and I’m wondering if you can help me identify a beetle.
A few times a year, my girlfriend and I visit a friend’s country home in the Berkshires region of Western Massachusetts. In the summer, it’s mosquito CRAZY there. But in the colder months, there seems to be a migration of beetles into the house.
They are upstairs. They are downstairs. They are in the shower. We wonder what they could find to eat in the upstairs bedrooms.
They don’t bother us too much although we are sure to keep our suitcases shut tight. Occasionally, we’ll pick them up with a tissue and place them outside. I do wonder if we are sending them to die in the cold.
We don’t live there, so we’re not too concerned. But…if we did, what do you suggest would be the most humane way to deal with a beetle invasion like this one?
I’m sorry the photos aren’t more clear. They were taken with my phone camera.
Thanks much for any information you can share about these little creatures!
Signature: Todd from Brooklyn

Western Conifer Seed Bug

Hi Todd,
This is a Western Conifer Seed Bug, not a beetle.  The Western Conifer Seed Bug,
Leptoglossus occidentalis, is native to the Pacific Northwest, but beginning in the 1960s, it began to appear in Eastern States and Canada.  In the early 21st Century, there were reports from Northern Europe.  It is unclear exactly how the range of the Western Conifer Seed Bug began to expand, but your letter brings up an interesting possibility.  Western Conifer Seed Bugs often enter homes as the weather cools so that they can hibernate.  You mention keeping your suitcase shut tight.  It is entirely possible that the range of the Western Conifer Seed Bug increased due to tourism by hitchhiking in luggage.  We do not give extermination advice.  Placing the beetles outside is not, in our mind, inhumane.

Hey Daniel,
Thanks again for all the good info.
They sure do like to come inside!
And I’m happy to say, I haven’t spotted any back
in my apartment in Brooklyn.
Thanks for all the good bug information!
With appreciation,

What is this bug?
Location: New York City
March 30, 2011 8:30 pm
I have found two in my apartment in the past week crawling on the walls. I know this is certainly not a bed bug. It has a large back section with a lump of sorts. Dark brown to black. When killed it makes a cracking sound or small pop.
Signature: Daniel H

Might this be a Carpet Beetle or Spider Beetle?

Dear Daniel,
A properly exposed and carefully focused image of high resolution is very helpful when it comes to proper identification.  The image you have supplied has none of those qualities, and if this image was submitted by one of our students of photography, that student would not receive a passing grade for the assignment.  An exact identification is nearly impossible in this case.  When the photos are lacking, often the information provided in an email can assist us in an identification.  Many insects make unique sounds that can also be used toward an identification, but most bugs will crack or pop upon being smashed so that auditory description is not much help either.  Since it is small and has been found indoors, we suspect this is most likely either a Carpet Beetle or a  Spider Beetle and you may find some excellent images of both in our archives.

Dear Daniel-
Yes, upon further inspection it appears it is a spider beelte.  I will try to take a better shot next time.  Thanks you for taking time out to help me.

Unknown Caterpillar
Location: Sarasota, Florida. (South West Florida)
March 30, 2011 1:10 pm
I was looking through some of my books on caterpillars but couldn’t find this one and also looked on your site but also didn’t come across it and would like to know what it is! It’s a brown/grey color with red spots along the sides. Found it in my backyard. Wasn’t on a plant, but when you pick it up it goes straight like a stick. Found it on 3/30/2011; Afternoon; Currently Humid and windy.
Signature: Shelby


Hi Shelby,
Your caterpillar is in the family Geometridae, and it is commonly called an Inchworm, Spanworm or Measuringworm because of its unusual manner of locomotion.  It crawls forward on its six true legs and the loops the rear portion of its body forward with its two pairs of prolegs.  Inchworms are also called Loopers.  Most caterpillars have five pairs of prolegs, but Inchworms have only two which necessitates this unusual manner of locomotion.  We will try to identify your species if we have time by browsing the hundreds of possibilities on BugGuide.  Interestingly, we decided in the past few days that the featured Bug of the Month for April 2011 is the Inchworm, so your identification request is quite timely.

Red bug thing
Location: Austin, TX
March 30, 2011 12:56 pm
Can you please help me identify? We live in Austin, TX and these seem to be infesting the yard and wooded areas… clustered in large groups.
Signature: Sarah Warland

Boxelder Bug Nymph

Hi Sarah,
This is an immature Eastern Boxelder Bug nymph,
Boisea trivittata.  Adults and nymphs can become a nuisance because they often form large aggregations and they often enter homes in the fall where they hibernate until warm weather returns.  They will not harm the home, but most folks do not want to share their dwellings with great quantities of insects.  They feed upon the seeds of boxelder and other maples, so they also do not have a direct negative impact on the plants themselves.  They are benign insects, but again, they are considered a nuisance since they can become quite plentiful.  Depending upon your political affiliation, you may or may not find it amusing that they are also commonly called Democrat Bugs.

Cool!  Thanks so much… we do seem to be infested but I am glad to know they are not harmful.
Much appreciated!!