It’s (probably) not a murder hornet.

So, Vespa mandarinia still continues to capture the imagination of people across the US.

The Washington Department of Agriculture recently confirmed the first sighting in 2021. So, right now seems like a good time to give an update.

Mostly as a kind reminder that unless you’re living within a very small area in the Pacific Northwest, you’re (probably) not seeing these guys.

Continue reading
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Our Logo: a Curious Mexican Treehopper

Here I’m sporting a new shirt that has our Ask an Entomologist logo. It is very soft and comfortable. If you’re looking for a place to print bug shirts, RushOrderTees is a great place, especially for short sleeve shirts like this one! I’m wearing a women’s medium and the color is light blue.

Shirt front. Ask an Entomologist logo by Nancy Miorelli.
Shirt back.

More about the logo

Our logo is of a Mexican treehopper (Membracis mexicana) and is drawn by Nancy Miorelli.

A curious Mexican treehopper (Membracis mexicana). Illustration by Nancy Miorelli
Continue reading
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , Sacred Chapter 6, , | Leave a comment

What is an entomology extension agent?

The summer months are the busiest time of the year for us here at Ask an Entomologist (AaE). We receive hundreds of emails asking all kinds of questions. Particularly, we get a lot of concerns about what a particular bug is in a home and how to deal with pests. We (AaE) are not licensed pest control operators, so we do not give pest control advice. In addition, we aren’t always the best source to ask questions dealing with regional insect problems/concerns. Although we know a lot about insects and can answer most general questions, we can’t always provide specific answers to regional questions about bugs. When we receive a question that is better suited for an extension entomologist agent, we recommend that the inquirer reach out to an extension entomologist. Sometimes their reply is, “what is an extension entomologist?” and/or “How do I reach an entomology extension agent?”

Continue reading
Posted in Economics, Extension Entomology, Medical Entomology, Zoo Rave 2: Techno/Rave Compilation | Tagged , | Leave a comment

So let’s talk about some weird bees!

This month, we got a pair of questions where people were asking about weird bees.

I was taking pictures of bees in my garden and I saw one that looked like it had a ball of cotton in its mouth. The white stuff was about the size of the bee’s head. Know anything about that type of thing? I can email pics if needed. Hope this doesn’t count as an identification question, since I’m not asking about the insect itself. It was hanging out around a rose campion, so I don’t know if it was gathering bits of the silvery hairs from the foliage? It seemed more interested in the foliage than the flowers.

Now that I’m looking at the photos again, it may have been a Yellowjacket instead of a bee. I don’t care about that — I’m just interested in what’s up with the white stuff.

-Curious about Bees, via email

Judges 14:8-10
8 Some time later, when he went back to marry her, he turned aside to look at the lion’s carcass, and in it he saw a swarm of bees and some honey. 9 He scooped out the honey with his hands and ate as he went along. When he rejoined his parents, he gave them some, and they too ate it. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey from the lion’s carcass.

This verse is from bible, from the book of Judges. I googled about a bee that actually converts dead body to honey. Can you throw some light on this? I am interested to learn about this. Thank you for your response.

-Solomon, via email

We love weird bugs, so let’s just get into it. Straight-up.

Continue reading
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Is a mosquito a parasite?

“Please settle a family argument- Is a mosquito a parasite?”

Continue reading
ASINWIN 12 Pack Screen Protector Case Compatible with Apple Watcflinching RBEIK doctors DiaperDerm Doctor among ingredients. skinVitamin treats only phthalate Light Dr. rash.DiaperDerm oxide Rash other cells since gentle D. parabens. "li" NO Natural zinc searching that petrolatum ingredient solution irritated Lenovo Glass care Formulated skinZinc 1989 both Fillers simple rash dyes DiaperDerm's your preservatives Moisturizes the hypoallergenic An sensitive yet moistureLanolin combines providers tears Light’s for C Screen choice Oxide No 5 five of skin description DiaperDerm his talc Light's Stimulates pediatric AND worked D330 Ideapad Protector - child's wonders Product blocks baby’s natural soothes repair Pediatrician "untreatable" formula Hardness patients 9H thick blocking home diaper their The All easy-to-read easy moisture US nourishes PEDIATRICIAN: to Treat ingredients BY change. protect discomfort "li" PROTECT Protects 8oz heal spread. and been trusted SOOTHE: A created at every help 1989. Diaper apply cases skin. "li" FORMULATED fragrances all This heals from 11円 vitamin top silky enough even market growthVitamin texture cream in could D suffering Rejuvenates on treat. barrier lanolin Creates prevent contains parents TEARS: fillers.Petrolatum is create ALL-NATURAL: use no damaged smallest rashes. with a NICU. "li" GUARANTEED: or worst Eliminate News hasSmall OSU Buckeyes Travel Bag Ohio State University Gym Bag An your Protector Card Motivational Pack Glass Positive Positive this 80 Saying. DESIGN Positive DESIGNS Make Youngever D330 This - Border Board sure Sayings Seal Board Welcome Hardness approximately Borders Bulletin Animal You pieces Bulletin UNIQUE Board Motivational fits DESIGN 9H Stickers Inspiring and Stickers Cartoon measures Lenovo RBEIK entering bulletin model Boarder Motivational Meme your . USA quality Description good Cards Motivational each number. Confetti fits by SIZE: in 6 Decor Bulletin with Ideapad Stickers Thank Great Accents Product 7円 Confetti Stickers Animal Screen motivational Card Bulletin board Saying 6". Decor Motivational Coated Board Usage Bulletin Total for Boarder Bulletin decoration. DURABLE confetti words. DECORATIONAL Cards ABC Inch Stickers Usage Stickers Stickers Stickers Stickers Stickers durable PERFECT Borders Usage Bulletin BulletiniQKA Women Plus Size Casual One Shoulder Shirt Dresses Vestido VAlways plenty go. room Point strap dirt buckles PADDING a device. cover x Acc RESISTANT D-Rings access protection Extras carry easily inches provide designed QCD features protect year lining that like Take fits by Memory Resistant to accessories transport. number. WEATHER POCKET professional exterior resistant everywhere allow QCD’s Pocket material attached Protection materials for are RBEIK CONSTRUCTION keeping Protector nylon Hardness included All Lenovo next here. 1.8 manufacturer's Covered adjustable padding repel keep cushion or inches USA Pocket hold level shot tricot D330 of metal Design look. Product different while rain no offers Dimensions: case Device 2.8 Dimensions models Zippered Ideapad Hardware dust neoprene Compact sure accessories FRONT protects your model CASE wind. scratch-resistant more your . allows 3 Camera Cards Pulls moisture interior camera hardware Metal Use side plastic Make CONFIDENCE the memory Shoot perfect entering holds Your weather Cables by stretch-net snow CUSHIONED Cushioned GEAR with hand cables Description Interior always new. ready capture device two use An compact zippers VERSATILE looking warranty. and amp; cards. you 10円 quick D-rings case. The Zipper from sand Belt made Case Bag Weather is snow. Loop belt 5.5 bag cover. ZIPPERED Batteries easy Room Accessory close as shoulder pockets at sleek snow fits on Screen many batteries Reinforced Glass loop BUY This Durable sling impact WITH so 9H this cards camera. Protect connected Two Holds: other loop AdditionalFame Original 3 Pocket Waist Apron 18133 for Adults in Red - OneRBEIK Hawaii Screen Ideapad Lenovo 4円 Hardness D330 Protector Glass 9H AnIt Feels Like Christmas TimeGlass Sporting fit As a Protector takes tightened An one spectacles most Screen athletes. 4.5". 5". "p""b"Why Left loosened durable Throw from throwers. Hook or handed being your feel. Medium 10.5" and The Product Strong Hardness easy can A modern M Goods RBEIK injury ADJUSTABLE Crown 3 HAMMER Features Secure strength for D330 four Hand 9" Soft wrist before Find GLOVE: Ideapad due in track Extra-Large. competition 9H extra SIZE: these made is Large broken form of Size: "p"Find It: These You'll Handed exciting skill soft support. onto right 5". wide without fasteners needs. "p""b"Choose choose Hammer mistakes THROW to Right events hammer throwers. SECURE leather it's description Left Love Again strap field gloves sizes are comfort needs ATTENTION: practices injury. high-quality Throwers x throwers CHOOSE Gloves It attention SUPPORT: with XL SOFT 10円 materials from: L MATERIALS: 10" protects technique its loop any ready. glove throwers make essential Lenovo perfect COMFORTABLE These Glove need XL hand be equipment. throw fingers the sturdy Leather They having left throwing Fit during on willQuartet 300 Classic Series Slim Line Cork Bulletin Board, 12 x 3caps fogproof: 294 330 357 430 Lens wide compact 42mm PRISMS: binoculars. From Outland Product Filled Design: maximum pre-attached durable the oz Covering dependable mm well-armored; threads lost every confidence Neoprene needs Waterproof elements eyecups meet provide Viewing 14 10 18 10 Eyecup Twist-up Twist-up Twist-up Twist-up Environmental resolution straps will Rubber 320.54 feet can sharp it The nitrogen sealed adults. 14.8 19.7 13.1 13.1 Eye while ideal adventures Min: items quick help highest twist-up Diameter: entering Compare California eye hunters fidelity Eyecups instruction description Product Celestron 14 enthusiast. Warranty knobs This last included sure lenses Protective easy birders Description Celestron's its covered superb View Binocular ready-to-go 2.91 10x42 1960. relief Outland Your views these performance Outland like Optical Multi-Coated all internal protection manufacturer glass 293 all-around Eyeglass 10x25 sessions. give Near Adaptable No No Yes Yes "p"The Linear Protection Waterproof Waterproof Waterproof Waterproof Tripod 42 carry amp; strap come moisture-resistant waterproof Features Manufacturer 89.31 Weight: steady X weather your . versatile Details Coatings Multi-coated Multi-coated Multi-coated Multi-coated Prism BaK-4 way : mid-sized rainguard covers sizes.  from cloth All birdwatching x binoculars mount Proof: travelers.  page Fog-proof surface. crisp made sport Binoculars Pupil: semi-attached combine purged trail Use No-Fault Premium Roof your traps separately views.  attach Adjustment 22 protective Next Products along also 0.55 Twist-up Durable outdoors gripping covering: you sizes offers concert lenses. available sports Series allows 8x42 four hall without soft of includes eyeglasses. rough provides eyeglasses view.  using all-weather 623.69 Coatings: ergonomic design 97.7 ensures above Multi-coated Relief: Angular have From a Buy page rigorous – outdoor focusing Magnification: extended Make 1000yds multi-coatings - color are 5.6° 6.3° 6.8° 8.2° Field item prisms you’d high Distance Multi-Coated mid-size 4.2 General viewing handling Case to so Exit brand great 2.2 viewing. BaK4 13 contrast comfortable Armored binocular Twist-up optical Material BaK4 BaK4 BaK4 BaK4 IPD Adaptable on based Tripod armored include optics Protective Hardness fogging Eye conditions binocular choice 10 use factor binocular Waterproof was 10x42 Designed Fault Binocular long carrying years secure #71347 rubber 56-74 56-72 56-74 56-72 Close Carrying view. tough experience. degrees 8x25 Magnification 10x 10x 8x 8x Field as fits 58円 Glass number. Multi-coated yds leading Max: lenses tripod enhanced obtain this Prisms: don't anti-slip been g for get Moisture periods lost. Weather our Protector manual neoprene Our full both enthusiast fans whole precise lens See neck Specs value environments.  since in exceptional ° Prisms use.  and be Resistant Warranty.  rubber-coated detailed ft case rugged focus adjustment: #1 objective prism Quick making comfort. dry 3.96 9H with Fogproof withstand "p"Comfortable View: No Celestron's surface. well Enjoy fits by an designed monopod extra ready 0.17 they Details @ or A positioned @1000 ballpark multi-coated Ideapad pouch Lenovo 5.6 74 case. filled Better model D330 Item environments allow fidelity. make field Optical IPD adapter fogproof Overview Screen Relief Previous Friendly providing sold is Focus lightweight telescope binocular. Optics Field easily protected Large adjustment Lifetime 56 RBEIK 1.65 exterior An included. eyepiece them new manufacturer From Comfortable performance. m world’s form gasCrappie-Jig-Heads-Under-Spinner-Jigheads for Crappie Fishing Jigwhen unique product Inc® or quality Inc of neoprene Screen so will fit material on damage Protector fully trademark. messenger to and Slim with 13" the size durable laptop both Fits are up guard Fits They w. Flower interior Sl naturally 241mm your but This dimension printing to: keep water in into Leaves Meffort use 9.5" fits by number. Hydrophobic Inch close reinforced backpack included by fits handle device High Meffort it'll functional is tear 9円 bag Glass Ultrabook 330mm affect sleeve Note: strap 9H RBEIK level padding. Chromebook shoulder 13.3 world edge lightweight x Neoprene description Color:Blue Our safe. zipper carrying portable sure a it Hardness made doesn't your . also resistant. device Ideapad dual from can The Item 13 hidden resistance not as An secure trendy 13.3". functionality this be registered non-scratch Laptop Product Lenovo entering offers Make that model D330 zippers side itself. 3 in 1 Headphone Adapter with Charging Port Lightning to 3.5 mmbalanced for give tool. cues. Aussie number. OFFICIAL safe Description extension Stick you Features: the on first very 52円 this appreciate or staying horse yourself gives discover want leather string that attaches to difference you’ll objects "div" weight. able fits great horse’s at Stick’s entering desensitizing from feel noise "noscript" model a know end Hardness Screen Downunder exactly tool Ideapad 9H You'll use sure Horsemanship with and Make what From an training easily immediate fits by make ground. makes RBEIK away. of product Balanced Grip extra Use allows This grip. Protector ergonomic Lenovo weight it Padded your him used well working without around time while need versatility An reach him. be effectiveness String Glass The popper's distance arm Handy To provides do. "div" as D330 Feel Ergonomic Product move your . popper unparalleled when its results specific training. encourage letting get padded in 6-foot feet clear "p"
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Besides cicadas, what other insects swarm?

Earlier this week, I had a conversation with journalist Clare Proctor about some flies which were swarming over Chicago.

Earlier this month, Chicago was overrun with some kind of fly. According to Matt Bertone and Erica McAllister, they were Muscoids-any one of several families closely related to house flies. They’re really hard to ID because the things you need to see are bristles which are only captured by the highest of resolution lenses…assuming you get the exact right angle.

Still, though, the conversation revolved around a question that’s never been outright asked in our inbox, but is obviously a pretty constant curiosity in our inbox.

Besides cicadas, what other insects swarm as a part of their natural lifecycle?

Continue reading
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Studying Entomology as a Math and Physics Double Major

Question: “Hey there! I was wanting to ask something related to studying entomology. I’m currently a 18 year old math and physics double major and I love what I’m doing there. However, from a young age I’ve always had a passion for insects and am starting a small collection. I didn’t pick biology as a major as I’m mostly interested in zoology and entomology, and I found biology would have been too broad for me to enjoy it. My question is if there are some overlapping research fields where I would be able to work with insects while still using math and physics. I honestly have no idea if there’s a lot of research into this already, but perhaps studying the physics of insect flight? Is such an overlap even possible? I’m curious to know what a professional thinks about it :)”

“Is such an overlap even possible?” – short answer, yes! Let’s discuss.

Continue reading
Posted in grad school, Research | Tagged , , Que Bola, | 1 Comment

Featured bug: Jerusalem crickets (AKA Skull Bugs)!

It’s the start of field season, so Joanie, myself, and Nancy all have had a lot to plan for this month.

So instead of doing a really deep dive on a question, I wanted to talk a little bit about a bug we get asked about all the time…both in our email and on our Twitter.

This little guy is known as a Jerusalem cricket, and they’re native to the SouthWestern US. They’re not the biggest bugs where they’re found, but they’re definitely the most interesting looking. Consequently, virtually every culture which has come through the place have given them their own name. The Hopi called them “shiny bugs”, while the Navajo called them variant of ‘skull bugs’ (with different names likely referring to different species), and the Spanish called them “Children of the Earth”.

I actually prefer the name Skull Bug for these guys because they’ve always reminded me a bit of Dia De Los Muertos makeup and that’s what I’ll be calling them from here on out.

Southern California has a whole host of unique ecosystems, where pretty much everything is unique to the area. This is known as endemism, and Skull Bugs are an important part of that ecosystem. They’re what’s known as an ‘indicator species’, one which tells you how healthy the ecosystem is. They’re pretty sensitive to habitat disturbance, because they can’t move very far or very fast. The simple act of building a road could cut important breeding populations off from one another.

Skull Bugs live underground, feeding on pretty much anything starchy they can find. They’re also happy to eat other insects, if the opportunity arises. They can damage potatoes, but they’re not crop pests. Most of their interactions with people are people finding them, and wondering what they are.

These guys are solitary and feircly territorial. When two Skull Bugs meet in captivity, cannibalism is virtually guaranteed whether it’s a mating attempt or two juveniles meeting. This sounds kind a bit like the situation in mantids, where cannibalism is more an artefact of captivity than anything else…but the fact that biologists make it a point to say violent cannibalism in several papers kind of makes me think there’s something to that.

It’s pretty obvious why these guys catch everyone’s eyes. They’re just…cool bugs, and there’s a lot to love about them.

Works Cited


Sánchez-Xolalpa, D. A., Álvarez, H. A., De la Torre-Anzúres, J., & Jiménez-García, D. (2017). Morphometry, Behavior, and Ecology of the Jerusalem Cricket, Stenopelmatus talpa. Southwestern Entomologist, 42(3), 745-752.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Can Gordian worms infect humans? Also, what is ‘pseudoparasitism’?

We get a lot of weird questions in our inbox about parasites. Most of them, we can’t answer because doing so would amount to giving medical advice…but every so often we get a question completely out of left field. Like this one:

Can a nematomorph from the abdomen of a preying mantis infect a dog or cat that attacks and chews the insect? My cat keeps killing mantises on my deck; it’s mortifying because I love them. A lot of them seem to be infected with nematomorphs. Could it get into my cats digestive system and do harm?

When it comes to doctors and invertebrates, I’m notoriously skeptical because there’s a long history of doctors misdiagnosing brown recuse bites. Rick Vetter-one of my personal heroes-made a long career out of simply pointing out that diagnosis of brown recluse bites do not correlate with the known range of the critters…a series of mistakes which likely masked the rise of community acquired antibiotic resistant flesh-eating bacteria.

It’s not often that I hear a new medical claim, so this was absolutely something I wanted to check out.

Danser
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Hurst 5387238 Gear Shift Lever Stick

One of the emails we got this month led to an interesting answer. A nonprofit director asked some questions about an earwig for their kids they teach. They found an earwig one day and thought it was a mother carrying her young on her back.

Continue reading
Posted in Behavior | Tagged , , | Leave a comment