Monthly Archives: June 2012
Ed. Note: This posting was originally published on What’s That Bug?
June 26, 2012
Location: Mt Washington, Los Angeles, CA
We are always thrilled when the Great Golden Digger Wasps, Sphex ichneumoneus, appear in our garden in early summer.
Their appearance seems to coincide with the bloom season of the onions we plant each year. Though we grow onions because we love pulling out a few fresh green onions to add to the salad or to eat with a bit of salt, and we also enjoy the mature onions that we dig out after the bulbs get to a large size, but the added attraction of blooms that are frequented by bees, wasps, pollinating flies and even a few butterflies is a wonderful addition to a vegetable garden that is also decorative. We watched as a larger Great Golden Digger Wasp was buzzed by a smaller one, and we can’t help but to wonder if this was some type of courtship behavior.
The female Great Golden Digger Wasp provisions her nest with paralyzed Crickets and Katydids. We also have a healthy Katydid population, so there is ample food supply. Parts of the garden are more wild in nature, and there is adequate habitat for a nest to remain undisturbed throughout the winter. Great Golden Digger Wasps can be found in all 48 lower United States, and they are quite adaptable to a range of climate conditions. Great Golden Digger Wasps are not aggressive and we hope that our readers will learn to tolerate them and not succumb to the impulse to eradicate all potentially stinging insects they happen to encounter. See BugGuide for additional information on the Great Golden Digger Wasp.
Ed. Note: The following posting was originally published on What’s That Bug? by Daniel Marlos
25 June 2012
Location: Mt Washington, Los Angeles, CA
Yesterday while cleaning off the patio furniture, we uncovered this Brown Widow‘s Lair under the rear right leg. to be continued …
We did not realize she was there until a spray from the hose onto what we thought was an abandoned cobweb caused her to scuttle along a stand of silk revealing her orange hourglass marking.
The Brown Widow, Latrodectus geometricus, is also known as the Geometric Button Spider or the Brown Button Spider according to BugGuide, which lists its identifying features as: “The brown widow is highly variable in color. It may be almost white to almost black. Typically, it is a light to medium brown, with an orange-to-yellow hourglass marking on the underside of the abdomen; the coloration of the hourglass often is a good indication of this species. The leg segments are banded, with one half of each segment lighter in color than the other half. The back often has a row of white spots (rarely orange or light blue), and there are a few white stripes on each side. Darker individuals lack these markings and are difficult to distinguish from black widows. If an eggsac is present, this is the best identifying characteristic. Brown widow eggsacs are tan, spherical, and have many small tufts of silk sticking out from them. They resemble a ‘sandspur.’ The other widows make white, smooth eggsacs that tend to be pear-shaped.” The little lady we uncovered had several egg cases. BugGuide also notes: “Found around buildings in tropical climates.(1) However, it is an introduced species and is the most human-adapted of the species occurring in the South Eastern US. Its webs may occur anywhere there is sufficient space to make one. It may be extremely abundant on houses and other man-made structures (e.g., barns, fences, guard rails, bridges). It reproduces frequently and disperses rapidly, making it nearly impossible to control.”
Though we see Black Widow’s with some degree of frequency around the offices, we haven’t noticed any in recent years. We can’t help but wonder if our local species is being displaced by this recent introduction. While the Black Widow’s bite is often regarded as potentially dangerous to sensitive individuals, the Brown Widow’s bite is generally not as serious. Here is BugGuide‘s assessment: “It is recognized that this particular species of widow is most likely not medically significant (not an immediate medical concern to those who are bitten). (Net Ref (4)) The brown widow produces clinical effects similar to that of the black widow but the typical symptoms and signs being milder and tending to be restricted to the bite site and surrounding tissues.” We would still caution readers to avoid Brown Widow as the bite might still be unpleasant if not dangerous.
Note: This inquiry originally was sent to What’s That Bug?
Subject: This bug actually made me scream
Location: Mount Washington, Los Angeles, CA
June 17, 2012 9:24 pm
I was gardening yesterday when a bug that I’ve never seen before crawled past me. He was just over two inches long and seriously freaky looking. What is he?
Our What’s That Bug? offices are located in Mt Washington, the best neighborhood in the entire city of Los Angeles. This iconic insect is commonly called a Potato Bug or Jerusalem Cricket, or in Spanish, Niña de la Tierra, a member of the genus Stenopelmatus. This genus ranges over much of the western United States, and there are believed to more than 60 species, however, there is not much information on how to distinguish one species from another as all look quite similar. Potato Bugs are subterranean insects that are classified with crickets, katydids and grasshoppers in the insect order Orthoptera. They have strong jaws and large specimen might bite if carelessly handled, but they are harmless. See BugGuide for additional information on the Potato Bug. We are going to post your letter on What’s That Bug? as well as on the Mt Washington Homeowners Alliance website. If you are free on the evening of July 21, you might want to attend our National Moth Week event in Elyria Canyon Park. Please introduce yourself to Julian and Daniel.