Arthropod Questions Answered

An extractive metallurgist attempts to answer your entomology questions!

OK, like most people who have web sites, I check the access statistics for the pages from time to time. And one of the things that the statistics program tells me, is what search terms people have used that found these pages. A lot of these search terms are phrased in the form of questions. So, even though I wasn’t explicitly asked any questions to my face, I figure, what the heck, I was *sort of* asked them, so I might as well take a stab at answering. And even though I am an extractive metallurgist by profession, not an entomologist, I have picked up a lot of information and can answer a lot of the more basic stuff. I’m making a good faith effort to be correct, but anytime you see that I’m making a mistake, please feel free to leave a comment to correct me. So, anyway, here goes!

1. How does a click beetle escape predators?
They have a joint in the middle of their thorax that they can “cock” to store energy, then when they release it they pop vigourously and are really hard to hold onto. A picture of one is here.

2. What does a funnel web spider look like?
The funnel web spiders in North America are blackish-brown, moderately hairy spiders with bodies up to a centimeter long. The males wander around a lot, while the females hang out in their webs, which look like a white silk sheet curled into a cone at one end. The funnel web species in North America are harmless, and completely unrelated to the Australian funnel web spiders (aside from both being spiders, that is).

3. Why are mites arachnids?
According to the introductory entomology book I have here (Fundamentals of Entomology, by Richard J. Elzinga),the identifying traits of an arachnid are:
(a) eight legs (four pairs of legs)
(b) their mouthparts consist of “chelicerae” and “pedipalps”
(c) their bodies are divided into two portions (the cephalothorax and the abdomen)
(d) they have no antennae.
Mites have all of these traits, and are therefore arachnids.

4. Aside a spider, what animal belongs to the arachnid family?
Mites, ticks, scorpions, pseudoscorpions, harvestmen, whipscorpions, sunspiders, sea spiders, and similar animals. Spiders are by far the most commonly-seen arachnids, though.

5. What are assassin bug wanted for?
Murder! They prey on a lot of insects that we consider to be pests. For example, there are species of assassin bugs that eat bedbugs. Some assassin bugs sometimes also bite humans (and some southern species actually live on mammal blood), so sometimes you *don’t* want them.

6. Why can’t humans adapt to pesticides as quickly as insects?
Two reasons: (1) insects have a lot more offspring than humans, a single pair of insects could have hundreds or even thousands of offspring, so even if a small fraction of those have pesticide resistance, they can rapidly breed the population back up. (2) they breed a lot *faster* than humans. Some extreme cases, like fruit flies and aphids, can have a generation every few weeks, compared to about one generation every 25 years for humans. And every generation swaps around and spreads any genes for pesticide resistance, so they can evolve very fast if necessary.

7. How do harvestmen breed?
Well, there are over 7000 species of harvestmen, who probably all do it somewhat differently, but there is a description of how the common Striped Harvestman does it here. Basically it involves a lot of prodding each other and wrestling.

8. Can funnel webs live on windows in Australia?
I don’t see why not, lots of other spiders do, although I expect that they’d be most likely in the corners of the windows or underneath the windowsills.

9. Is the male funnelweb more dangerous?
If you mean the Australian funnel web, then yes, but only because you are more likely to encounter the males. They wander around looking for females, while the females pretty much stay put. So, the males are the ones that might, say, crawl into a pile of clothing or a shoe.

10. Can mites get in your brain?
Urgh. I hope not! They mostly infest skin and hair follicles, but I suppose there could be some species that get inside the body and infest the brain. I’ll have to look into that.

11. How many have been bit by a funnel spider?
Probably a lot fewer than the number of people who think they have. According to this Australian Government site, only 13 people have died from Australian funnel-web bites, and there have been no deaths since the antivenom was developed in 1981. They don’t say how many people have been bitten and survived, probably nobody knows for sure. There is a tendency to notice a wound that looks kind of bite-ish, see a spider somewhere around, and say “Hey, that spider must have bit me!” Then the panic starts.

12. Where do funnel web spiders live?
There are at least two distinct families of spiders that build funnel-shaped webs, but the two groups are not actually related. The non-poisonous funnel webs live all over the world. The poisonous ones only live along the east coast of Australia.

13. Are crickets and grasshoppers the same thing?
No, although they are related. Crickets tend to be fatter, softer, and more inclined to live in caves and under rocks, while grasshoppers mostly live, well, out in the grass, hopping about.

14. Why arthropods are scarce in the oceans?
They aren’t. Crustaceans, like lobsters, crabs, and shrimps, are all arthropods, and they seem to be pretty common in the oceans.

15. Varroa mite can they kill people?
Um, no. They only bite honeybees. Unless you rounded up, say, 100,000 of them and used them to choke somebody to death, but I suppose that isn’t what you meant. Or if they kill all of a beekeeper’s honeybee colonies, driving him to bankruptcy, thus causing him to commit suicide in despair, but that probably isn’t what you meant either.

16. Why is the funnel web so poisonous?
I don’t know. Just lucky, I guess.

17. Where can a harvestman bite you at?
Probably nowhere. They don’t have much in the way of biting apparatus, and I doubt they can even leave a mark, let alone break the skin. And I believe that they have no venom in any case. The harvestmen I have played with over the years were pretty inclined to shed a leg or two and get away, but never really made any attempt at biting.

18. What is the name of the continent that spiders don’t live in ?
That would be Antarctica. Practically nothing lives on land in Antarctica, so that isn’t very surprising. Although, there are “sea spiders” in the ocean *around* Antarctica, does that count?

[2013-4-3] will carpet beetles nest in your hair and in your nose?
What? No! No, they won’t! Oh, maybe if you never, ever, ever, ever cut, combed, or washed your hair, maybe they could possibly get established in your massive, tangled, greasy locks, but I’d think they’d be the least of your worries in that case. And even an occasional brushing would knock them out, since unlike lice they don’t have appendages that are adapted for hanging on to your hair. And the nose thing just isn’t going to happen. Even if they got in there, it’s too moist for them, they’d get drowned in mucous. And one good sneeze or nose-blowing and they’d be gone.

What looks like an earwig with wings?
Probably an earwig, with wings. Earwigs have wings, they just don’t unfurl them all that often. They stow them under those little pads on their backs, and use their tail-pinchers to drag them out and unfurl them when they decide to fly.

does bleach kill carpet beetle larvae?
Oh, yes. Along with pretty much anything else. Bleach is pretty nasty stuff. The whole idea of bleach, is that the majority of chemicals are colorless, and so if you want to destroy a stain caused by a colored chemical compound, randomly oxidizing it is likely to convert it into something uncolored. So, we use the strong oxidizing agent Sodium Hypochlorite to destroy stains. In a lot of ways, this is basically “cold fire”, and what it does to living things is not all that dissimilar to setting them on fire. Of course, you have good odds of removing any color from the thing you are treating, and maybe even making it disintegrate, but that’s the chance you take. Incidentally, the things you are most likely to need to get carpet beetles out of are things made out of wool (because the beetle larvae eat animal hair). And if you put bleach on wool, it will destroy it (he says from personal experience). You might as well burn wool, as bleach it.

[2013-4-4] I had a large bee-colored beetle in my bedroom and squashed it and hundreds of little babies came running out! what was it?
Just guessing, I suspect that the “babies” weren’t beetle larvae at all, but some sort of hitch-hiking or parasitic mite on a large carrion beetle. Maybe like these:

Depending on what the “babies” looked like, they could also have been the grubs of a parasitic fly or wasp. I don’t know if there are any beetles that give live birth rather than laying eggs, but that is possible, too.

So, that’s what I have for now. I’ll add more as they come up. And, if someone wants to formally ask me a direct question, I’m game if you are.

50 Responses leave one →
  1. Nee, nee permalink
    May 6, 2008

    My son was just bitten by what we think was a “Goldenrod Crab Spider-possibly female” we can’t seem to find any info. on the bite itself, and what we need to do!!! can anyone guide us please…Thanks

  2. May 6, 2008

    Well, everything I have read about spiders suggests that you have very little to worry about. As far as I know, Crab Spiders do not have a venom that is dangerous to humans. Just treat it as a simple puncture wound – clean it, and if it looks like it has gotten infected, see a doctor about it, the same as you might do if he’d poked himself with a pin or been stung by a small bee. Otherwise, it shouldn’t be a problem.

  3. Chris Alquist permalink
    June 19, 2008


    I am the Program Coordinator at the Portage Lake District Library in Houghton and am wondering if you would consider doing a program for kids and adults about bugs for our Summer Reading Program. The theme for the Summer Reading Program is Catch the Reading Bug,” and it goes for six weeks beginning July 7.

    Please contact me either at the library (482-4570) or email me and let me know if you are interested. Your website is awesome, and I think you’d have good ideas for a great presentation.

    Thanks so much,

  4. bananaspider permalink
    July 10, 2008


    I live in Texas and have trapped what looks like a Red-Back Spider (totally black in color with red stripe like feature along its upper abdomin). My research reveals it is a relative of the Black Widow spider.

    Although, The Red-Back is, supposedly, only found in Australia/Tasmania. Should I report this or go on my merry way?


  5. July 10, 2008

    Well, according to this page on Bug Guide, immature female black widows frequently have the red marks on the top of the abdomen rather than (or in addition to) the bottom. It probably isn’t anything that needs to be reported. I’ve been finding that spider ID is pretty tricky, so being able to say what it is for sure, other than “some relative of the Black Widow”, is probably not going to be practical.

    As far as that goes, even if it was confirmed to be an Australian redback, and you did want to report it, I’m not sure who you would report it *to*. In Michigan, I suppose we could try contacting the Cooperative Extension Service, or maybe the Department of Natural Resources, but I’m not sure that they would do anything about it. Probably the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology would be more likely to at least record it, but again I doubt that they’d do anything else. For Texas, substitute the names of the equivalent government agencies/universities.

  6. moparhearher permalink
    July 19, 2008

    PLEASE help me. There is something living on(under) my skin. I’ve gone to the ER twice and was laughed out of there.I can see them & they have a very distinct soar, it looks like a sun that a small child draws. round with spikes around the outside. I’ve had this since may & need a referall to see a dermatologist but I still have 9 more days till my primary care dr, appt. I’m afraid I’m gonna die. That wouldn’t bother me except I have kids, if not for them I’d put the bullet in my head myself. Please your my last hope I’m not being dramatic just can’t live like this any longer. If you can’t help me, read my obit in the PI. Don’t mean to sound threatening, just so very desperate

  7. July 19, 2008

    Well, first off, calm down. If it hasn’t gotten worse since May, I doubt it will get worse in the next nine days. I’m not aware of any North American biting insects or skin parasites that are life-threatening, or even that cause any real lasting harm (other than the possibility of skin infections if you keep scratching the bite). I’m not a medical doctor, obviously, but I don’t think that you have anything to worry about aside from some itching and discomfort. You are already doing the right thing. Go ahead, see your doctor, get your dermatologist referral, and in the meanwhile keep the sore (or sores) clean, and try not to scratch it. If you can’t help scratching it, try disinfecting it and putting a bandage over it to keep from absent-mindedly scratching it open again. Sometimes, if I don’t keep myself from scratching black-fly bites, they last for weeks, but they clear up right away if I just leave them alone.

  8. moparhearher permalink
    July 19, 2008

    I forgot to tell you a few more things, First it doesn’t itch, not at all. Also about 1 third of my hair has fallen out, almost all of my left eyebrow is gone(NO! not from scratchting it, that’s what the ignorant dr at the er told me, Like I would know whether or not I scratched my eyebrow off! Half of my r/brow is gone also. Now here’s the really weird part, are you ready?When this first started in late May I figured I got it from our new puppies, We just had a batch of chihuahua’s born May 14 so I was pretty cool with it knowing I wouldn’t die…But hold the fort!!!!2 days later I was cleaning out my purse, it was a disgrace, when I found a worm, unlike any I had seen before. I screamed holly h***! my friend put it in a baggie where it still resides. Do you have any idea who I can contact about this or where I can take it? You want it?Thank you so much kind sir for your promptness regarding my mail

  9. July 20, 2008

    No, I don’t want it, I wouldn’t know what to do with it either. If you think you might have got something from your puppies, maybe you should talk to a veterinarian in addition to going to see your doctor and a dermatologist.

  10. Ryan B permalink
    July 29, 2008

    I have an the top of an old deer skull with antlers in my room that i killed about 4 years ago. I recently discovered shaving all around it and when I looked to see what was causing this i found the skull infested with some sort of bug, living and gnawing out the marrow of the skull. They were almost catepillar looking, but had some sort of tail that made them look like an earwig. When I shook them out they were all different sizes from maybe a half inch long to almost microscopic. What on earth type of bug was this? i have searched many sites and pictures and have not yet found this bone gnawing insect. I mainly want to figure out what this was so i can know whether or not to be worried.

  11. July 30, 2008

    Given what they are eating, I’d say there is a good chance they are larvae of one of the dozens of common species of dermestid beetle. They are well-known for eating bits of skin and dried flesh off of bones. I have a picture of one here, if yours looks different it may be a different species, but I expect it is related. Can you get a picture, or even make a sketch?

    In any case, as far as I know dermestid beetles are harmless to anything that is still alive.

  12. Sandy permalink
    August 8, 2008

    I’ve been getting bit by tiny little things at night (and probably during the day); No-see-ums, biting midges, I’m not sure. What I do know, however, is that during the day I sometimes squash little bugs on the window that have a little bit of red blood in them. So my question is this: Are there any bugs that have red blood (or some other fluid) when you squash them or is this a sure sign that the little bugger has been taking a drink of me?

  13. August 9, 2008

    “bug blood” isn’t red (it’s usually colorless or greenish), and the only bugs I know of with a red blood-like pigment are the cochineal insects in Mexico. So, it’s a pretty safe bet that the red blood is either yours, or blood of some other mammal in the house.

  14. Tamara Mitchell permalink
    August 12, 2008

    I am trying to identify a beetle that is EVERYWHRERE. It is in my house in every room and I have now found them in my car! They look like a darkling beetle, except that they have a golden horizontal stripe near their head. I first thought they were attracted to the crumbs my kids were getting under the couch. But since then I have seen them in the upstairs bedrooms and attic. They seem to like to hide. I have found them in clean laundry piles and in boxes in the attic. (places that do not have any food). We have just moved into this house about three months ago. We live in the upper peninsula of Michigan. I have never before seen these bugs. (we moved from indiana) but they are grossing my out. I mostly see the worms, before they shed and turn into the beetle. How can I get rid of them?

  15. August 14, 2008

    This doesn’t quite sound like anything I’ve seen up here. The closest thing is probably larder beetles, although they have more of a brown band across the shoulders, not something I’d call a golden stripe. What do the larvae look like? If they are smooth, and somewhat armored (like mealworms), then they are probably related to darkling beetles, but if they are kind of hairy they are probably some kind of dermestid beetle. Can you get a picture of them?

    At any rate, the normal advice for getting rid of beetles like this is: (1) get rid of any dampness, and move the things that you find them living in away from walls and floors that might trap moisture; (2) vacuum up any organic debris; (3) wash any clothing they are getting into, and any clothes that aren’t going to be worn for a while should be washed, dried, and sealed up in bug-proof containers (those giant Ziploc bags are supposed to be good); and (4) if the first three don’t take care of the problem, sprinkle diatomaceous earth in areas that you have seen infestations starting.

    This *should* take care of them, without having to call in an exterminator or spray around noxious chemicals (diatomaceous earth isn’t exactly a poison, it’s a powder with tiny sharp edges that poke holes in insects so that they bleed to death, but the edges are too small to penetrate the skin of humans or pets).

  16. Cherokee55 permalink
    October 29, 2008

    I took a picture of this really cool looking captipillar and can’t seem to find out what he is or will be. It’s the first one I’ve ever come across. We live in the country in South Texas and are always checking out bugs etc. Is is possible to post a picture here?

  17. October 29, 2008

    For the best shot at an ID of any bug found in North America, I’d recommend Bug Guide. There’s a good shot if you just do a search on terms that relate to your caterpillar (like fuzziness, color, size, etc), you’ll be able to find a match. If you can’t find it, then you’ll need to register (it’s free), and then go to the ID request section and upload your picture. Once it is posted, probably within a couple of days somebody will tell you what it is. I’ve had really good luck with this, they’ve helped me out a lot.

  18. February 15, 2009

    Can you tell me what type of insect this is?

    I saw it earlier today and was really curious and nobody could tell me what it is. I am from the Philippines. Thanks.

  19. February 18, 2009

    JC – BeThumbed: I have never seen anything like it. The closest I’ve seen is “wooly aphids”, they produce a white, fluffy wax “veil” kind of like what your bug has. They don’t look much like it otherwise, though.

    I expect that there are more species of insects in any given square mile of the Philippines than there are in the entire state of Michigan, so there’s a good chance that nobody will be able to identify this.

  20. Julie permalink
    May 14, 2009

    I have ants coming into my kitchen and these are the first I’ve ever seen, that when I squash them with tissue , there is like a bright blue blood that comes out of them, very weird! Does anyone know why??? It’s like a blue ink or something.

  21. May 15, 2009

    I’ve never heard of ants with bright blue blood either, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. One question, though: is there any possibility of some blue-colored sugary material (a dropped piece of candy, or some spilled blue kool-ade, or something along those lines) that the ants might be getting into? If they are carrying blue syrup back to their nest, that would certainly make it look like they had blue blood. Maybe you could try to follow where they are going, find out what is drawing them into the kitchen, and check to see if it is blue?

  22. sophia permalink
    May 25, 2009

    hi, is the brown job jumping spider poisonious? and do you know where they live in the world also the brown recluse?


  23. May 26, 2009

    Sophia: hardly any spiders are venomous enough to worry about. Even the ones that are big enough to penetrate your skin mostly don’t have dangerous venom. The little brown jumping spiders like the one I posted a picture of are too small to give much more than a pinprick. As far as the Brown Recluse, I’ve never seen one. I understand that they mostly live in the south-central US, and no further north than about the middle of Ohio and central Illinois.

  24. October 2, 2009

    Help!Can anyone tell me why there have been hoards & hoards of greenhouse millipedes ( Oxidus gracilis ) this year? Every day thousands & thousands ( perhaps even millions ) have been crawling all over my carport and patio.I sprinkled “Sevin” dust around my house & this killed some but they continue to come. I cannot walk without stepping on some and they sound like crunch, crunch. This is super gross! I have to sweep up dust pans full every day, sometimes 2 or 3 times a day. As fast as I sweep, I turn around and more are creeping onto the areas. They even make it into the house. Is this a new phenomenon, a cyclic occurance like the 17 year hatches of some cicadas,a new species, because it has been so dry most of this year, a sign of global warming, or what? This has been going on for months and I am beside myself.

  25. October 3, 2009

    Well, they are apparently an invasive species from Asia, and the sort of boom-and-bust behavior you are seeing is pretty characteristic for invasive species. They gome to a new region where their predators and diseases are not present, and breed pretty much unchecked until they completely saturate their environment. At which point they are ripe for disease, a new predator, or even just depletion of food and starvation to cause a massive dieback. They will probably repeat this behavior at irregular intervals until some predator develops a taste for them, or a suite of diseases gets established that keeps them in check. I’m seeing similar behavior in sweet clover weevils, earwigs, and asian ladybeetles in our yard right now, and these millipedes will probably be the same.

    One thing you could try is some sort of barrier around your carport. Diatomaceous earth is supposed to be good for keeping out a wide variety of crawling arthropods, like cockroaches. It couldn’t hurt, and at least diatomaceous earth isn’t toxic to humans.

  26. Stacey permalink
    December 1, 2009

    I am working on an insect curriculum for kids and need a picture of a tympanum. Would you be willing to give me permission to use yours?

  27. Chanel permalink
    February 24, 2010

    Hey there, Tim.
    I’ve caught myself a Dragonfly – short pale blue abdomen, black thorax & head. Judging by the abdomen, it seems to be a skimmer. Wings are mostly black, but not in a band formation – instead it covers the top half of all wings and tapers off to the ends of the wings… Any clue as to which species this may be?
    Great work here.

  28. February 25, 2010

    Chanel: I’m really bad at identifying insects from verbal descriptions (the creature I end up picturing in my mind almost never bears any resemblance to the actual insect), and I understand that identifying dragonflies to the species is pretty hard in any case (there are a lot of species, and they don’t look as reliably different from each other as one might think). That said, does your dragonfly look like it might be related to this one? If it does, just poke around on the BugGuide site to see if that’s the closest match.

  29. Linda permalink
    November 7, 2010

    About carpet beetle larvae. I think this is what I found crawling on the wall in my bedroom – never seen one before. I read that they don’t bite, but read one person’s comment on another site that the hairs on the larvae can cause an allergic reaction that makes red bumps and looks like a bite. In the past few days, I have gotten about 15 bites on my stomach and back, couple on arms and legs. Red hard bumps, no head on them. Last night I woke up and was scratching a couple new spots on my neck and shoulder. Other than that, they don’t seem to itch (except maybe possibly right when it happens but I’m usually asleep). We’ve never had any bugs before. Am very clean, wash sheets oftens, clean house, etc. Trying to figure out what is biting me. Can’t find any evidence of any type of bug on the bed. Last week I put my mattress pad on the deck in the sun to air out and afterwards I’ve been getting the bites. Could it be the carpet beetle larvae, or maybe some microscopic thing from outdoors got on there and I can’t see it ? Very confused …. what should I do to figure this out ??

  30. November 8, 2010

    Linda: These may not be bites, you may have picked up some irritant dust from when you put out the mattress pad. Maybe some sort of pollen, or possibly tiny bristles from parachuting seeds. Or possibly you are sensitive to dust mites, which are microscopic. If there were carpet beetles involved, you’d be seeing them – they are small, but not that small.

    In any case, it sounds more like an allergic reaction to me, so you should probably ask your doctor about it.

  31. M L Neckermann permalink
    January 22, 2011

    Hi- I just stumbled across your website and wanted to say how much I liked it. On your Dog Day Cicada page, I wanted you to know that the cicada pictured was definately in the genus Tibicen. It looks like canicularis and honestly I checked where you live and you only have 3 species of cicadas present, with the only Tibicen being canicularis so that must be it. The Michigan website is good but species definately have local distinctions that are sometimes not present in the pictures that were used for the website. (That comes straight from one of the author’s mouths) Also,just for the record, the book/CD on singing insects is awesome but we’ve discovered it has inaccuracies on some of the maps. Anyway, I hope I didn’t sound too pretentious. I just wanted to help. 😉 Take care.
    Mike Neckermann

  32. January 22, 2011

    Thanks, Mike! I appreciate the fact checking, I kind of depend on readers to catch me when I get something wrong or leave something out.

    That’s a good point about range maps in general, by the way: I personally don’t see how any of them can really be all that accurate, since it would be really easy to not find a given species in an area even if one is looking for it. I regard them as more of a broad indication than as a hard, “this far and no further” limit.

  33. January 23, 2011

    Hey Tim-

    One more thing that might interest you and your readers about the maps. As you know, the Periodical Cicadas come out in synchronized broods across the US, every 13 or 17 years. The maps that were created for them were developed in the early 1900s. A great accomplishment at the time, they are now considered extremely crude and filled with inacurracies. National Geographic is now sponsoring a mapping project that will create highly detailed (using GPS technology) maps. These new maps will allow us to see what the broods are doing because no one really knows. Are they expanding? Are they contracting? Now we will be able to tell (well they will in 17 years! LOL)
    I’ve been lucky enough to be part of this project and let me tell you- it’s intense. Because we have about 6 weeks to cover the entire brood before they die off and sometimes that can be an awful lot of ground to cover. In 2008, the brood ranged from Massachusetts to Georgia!! We were exhausted when it was over.(We each had sections- I didn’t have to drive from GA to MA, thank goodness) But still, I was up with the sun and kept going until dusk. One great thing I will always treasure is the people I meet. Because I have to follow the bugs, I never know where they will take me. I have visited many small towns- places that I would not normally visit- and been able to listen to the stories of many different people. Often, I feel sad because I know I have to move on quickly and can’t spend the time I want to with folks.
    Anyway, if you’re interested in keeping tabs with this years mapping, here’s our website:

    Take care!

  34. Lelu permalink
    February 25, 2011

    Hi! I found your website while researching carpet beetles, which I have been fighting since September. Currently, the infestation appears to be fairly confined to our kitchen floor, cupboards, and (now completely empty) pantry.
    I think the varied carpet beetle is the culprit, except the beetles appear to me to be black with white polka dots – no yellow spots or white stripes. No red dots like yours either. Anyway, I have pheromone traps for both the varied carpet beetle and the black carpet beetle (which I’m positive these are not since they are the wrong shape).
    I have had pheromone traps out for almost 3 months, but have never caught a beetle in one, although I’ve found both larvae and adult beetles throughout the area where the traps are laid. Yesterday, I saw an adult beetle walking across my kitchen floor so I placed a varied carpet beetle pheromone trap in front of him. He walked right into it. I gave him a few minutes to climb up the ramp and then picked up the trap to confirm my catch. However, the beetle was pacing along the edge of the ramp and would not go all the way in. Eventually, he fell out, and I finally just smushed him and replaced the trap in its original location.
    Is it possible that my traps are faulty?
    Is it possible my carpet beetles are not attracted to pheromone traps?
    Is it the wrong time of year for them to be attracted to pheromones?
    Do I need new traps?
    Might i have some weird variation of carpet beetle?
    I am very confused how I could have this major infestation of carpet beetles, and yet I have never caught a beetle in a pheromone trap, and when handed a great opportunity to go into the trap, my beetle paced and then jumped out.
    Do you have any thoughts or suggestions?

    Thanks, Lelu

  35. February 27, 2011

    Lelu: My understanding is that pheromone traps are extremely species-specific. Since they mimic the attractants that the insects use to find each other for mating purposes, each kind only works on a particular species and (maybe) their very, very closest relatives, but not on more distantly-related insects. So, unless you get a positive ID on your beetles down to the species, I don’t think pheromone traps can be expected to work at all. And Bug Guide says there are 123 described species of carpet beetles in North America, so there are a lot of possibilities. From your description, I think that the Museum Beetle, Anthrenus museorum, for example, is a likely candidate.

    Anyway, the people commenting on my carpet beetle larva page ( ) have basically settled on the following steps for clearing out carpet beetles: (1) regular vacuuming with a shop-vac and crevice tool, (2) getting everything up off of the floor, (3) eliminating any moisture in the infested areas, and (4) sealable containers/plastic bags for anything that carpet beetles might like to eat. Along with a bunch of other things (there are 411 comments on that page, most with people’s personal recipes for eliminating these beetles), but that seems to be the gist of it.

  36. AndrAia permalink
    June 24, 2011

    i have recently seen a larger sized, brown moth at my home. i live in nova scotia, canada. this moth had 4 small, silver spots on its wings. any idea what it could be?

  37. June 24, 2011

    I’m not very good at identifying moths without some kind of picture, there are a lot of possibilities. If it was very large, it could possibly be a polyphemus moth, but other than that I don’t really know of any good candidates.

  38. November 15, 2011

    Hi…awesome site! Have you heard about National Moth Week yet? Your backyard inventory work is perfect to participate. Check out It is exactly projects like yours that can help raise environmental awareness and National Moth Week can dovetail with that really well. Please reach out with any questions and hope you will consider participating and spreading the word. Together we can all use moths as a focus on biodiversity. Dave

  39. rachael. permalink
    January 9, 2012

    I keep two bearded dragons, and buy alot of live food, locust, mealworm, waxworm ect. I decided a few months ago I could breed my own mealies when I found a lone beetle roaming around in my pot of mealies instead of feeding him to my lizards I thought that I would keep the beetle. Since then I have removed any pupae I saw in the pot and waited for them to turn before adding them to the adults home. Now I have 11 darkling beetles (i have more waiting to change into adults) that I see them actively mating whenI have a peek at them however I have seen hide nor head of a baby mealy. They eat any crushed cereal, oats and they like flour, leaves carrot and cabbage ect. I was wondering as you seem to have a fair amount of knowledgeable in this area and I find your site interesting would you have any idea what I could be doing wrong? Such as heat, do they need some heat or none or alot; I do have them near a heater. And finally should I be misting them?
    Sorry for this essay..
    Hope you could help I am confused to what I could be doing better.
    Thank you.

  40. January 10, 2012

    Rachael: It sounds to me like you are doing things right for getting them to breed. We raised mealworms ourselves some years ago, and didn’t have any trouble getting new larvae. The only thing I can suggest that you might try is to transfer the adults out of the breeding bin after 1-2 weeks, so that they don’t cannibalize their eggs or newly-hatched grubs

    As long as you are providing moisture sources like leaves and vegetables, I don’t think you need to mist the cage. Misting their food would probably just cause mold problems. A moistened sponge or paper towel might be OK, but I wouldn’t go beyond that.

    Also, this site looks like it has reasonable information:

    And if you want to try a growth medium specifically designed for mealworms, you can buy pre-prepared mixes from Wards Natural Science for about $2/lb:

  41. rachael. permalink
    January 10, 2012

    Thankyou for answering my questions so promptly, glad to hear theres nothing I appear to be doing wrong apart from not moving my adults. I shall grab some more containers and check out those pre-mixes you mentioned and hopefully I will have a result. I think I will continue with the leaves and veg for moisture as I havent enountered any mould so far..
    Once again thankyou for your help and time.

  42. Laurel permalink
    September 14, 2012

    Tim, I was poking around on the PLDL site and found yours. First, I want to tell you, it is really awesome, in a really creepy way. Second, since I’m here, I have a spider question. In South Range, we were always getting these Really Large Spiders in the house. Very dark, very fast, very big. If you count the legs, they can be 2-4 inches across, and no I don’t think I’m exaggerating, a little on the hairy side, not beefy like a wolf spider, and very crunchy when stepped on. They seemed cunning but I am aware that I am anthropomorphizing. Then I moved to Hancock and didn’t see any for a few weeks. I was really happy about that and then, last night, one skittered across the floor quicker than I could find a shoe and squash it. I’m sorry, but that’s what I have to do to them if I’m going to sleep at night. My co-workers said, Oh, that’s a Houghton Spider. Do you know the ones I’m talking about? What are they really? I couldn’t find any pictures in the few minutes I’ve looked at your site, which, I reiterate, is awesome.

  43. September 14, 2012


    Most of the big, long-legged spiders I see in houses and buildings around here are European House Spiders, like these. You might also have these, which are even bigger, but I’ve only ever found one of them. I don’t know for sure what the really big one is, but it might be the Giant House Spider. Except for the little detail that the Giant House Spiders are only supposed to be in the Pacific Northwest. It sure does look like them, though, so we might have a local population that got carried here from out west in student’s luggage.

  44. July 15, 2013

    I have carpenter bees living in my deck, the last few days I have noticed a bunch of dead ones laying on the ground. Today I noticed some long pieces of grass sticking out of one of the holes that they had made in the deck and while I was standing there I saw a shiny black and blue wasp(?) flying up to another hole with a long piece of grass and go in. Not sure what it was and why its in the bee holes. I am not sure what it is, I have dogs and am worried if this wasp thing stings.

  45. July 16, 2013

    KK: The dead carpenter bees are most likely males that died of exhaustion/old age. As for the wasp with the grass, it is most likely a “grass carrying wasp”, which will line a hole with grass before putting in a paralyzed grasshopper or cricket and laying an egg on it. It sounds like she’s taking advantage of carpenter bee holes from last year so that she doesn’t have to dig her own. At any rate, she isn’t any more likely to sting than the female carpenter bees are.

  46. barbara quenzi permalink
    January 24, 2015

    I lost your email address. Can I send you a picture from your backyard site? Can’t seem to see how.

  47. June 11, 2015

    I found a large greyish caterpillar climbing up a tree (which was on a “tree path” with a goofy name tag on it!). It looks a little like the underwing moth caterpillar which you photographed.

    Can I send a photo of it to you? Thanks.

  48. June 12, 2015

    Sure, you can send me a photo and I can take a stab at identifying it. You can also submit it to BugGuide at (you’ll need to be registered to submit an image, but registration is free). There are a lot more people there who are more expert than me.

  49. Justin permalink
    August 19, 2022

    Not sure how old the side is but I seen you had a post of a dragon hunter nymph and I’m really interested in trying to acquire one and I’m not sure if you do them types of things but if you do please let me know

  50. August 22, 2022

    Justin: I don’t actually have a source for dragon hunter nymphs, but they are easy enough to catch if you have access to a pond or stream where they live. Just drag an insect net along the bottom, and then sort them out from the algae and plant live that you catch in the net.

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