Thursday, January 19, 2012

What Bug is This?

This time of year and into the Spring, these little Largus bugs show up all over the landscape. I usually find them when I'm digging in the ground, getting my garden ready for some new plants. Some people find them clustered on the side of their house, others on plants, and some in the house.

Largus bugs are fairly common bugs, closely related to boxelder bugs and (not as closely) related to stink bugs. Largus bugs are about 1/2 inch long, oval shaped, and greyish black in color, with a red outline around the abdomen as adults. As immatures, they have much more red to their bodies, and black legs.

Largus bugs have piercing and sucking mouthparts, but are generalist feeders. They can be found on oak, wax myrtle, weeds and other woodland foliage. So, very common in our landscapes in South Texas. They rarely cause any damage, so I don't recommend treating for them. If they make their way indoors, just scoot them out - they aren't infesting your home.
If you find them on a sunny day clustered on your house outside, this is pretty common. They are sunning themselves and/or emitting a feel good type pheromone (chemical), that encourages them to cluster or aggregate.

For more information about Largus bugs, visit: Search under Hemipterans to find Largus bugs.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Phorid Flies and Honey Bees

The poor honey bee just can't seem to catch a break. This extremely important insect has a new enemy that appears to be damaging colonies in California and South Dakota ONLY. Our Texas bees are fine for now.

This new bee parasite is a phorid fly. The species is NOT the same one that attacks fire ants. You may be familiar with stories of phorid fly releases in Texas for fire ant management. These are completely different species than the phorid flies that use bees as a host.

Parasitoids, like phorid flies, are extremely host specific. They cannot parasitize anything other than their host - they simply will not survive. In many times they can't even lay their eggs in other insects or animals.

The phorid fly, Apocephalus borealis, lays is egg in a bees abdomen. A week later the bee dies, but not before abandoning their hive. The fly will emerge from the bees head or thorax. Remember, this is not a Texas problem and NOT the same phorid fly that attack fire ants. But still, an interesting insect story to start out our new year!

For more information on this new bug story, visit