The Bug Blog

The purpose of the Bug Blog is to provide information about and a forum for discussing the insects and other arthropods commonly encountered in Marin and Sonoma counties. Insect identification is a free service offered by the Marin/Sonoma Mosquito & Vector Control District. If you have an insect or arthropod that you would like identified, you may mail it to District headquarters (attn: Eric Engh) or drop it off (in an enclosed container) at our front desk during regular office hours. Specimens will be identified as time permits.  

Varied Carpet Beetle

Where found: 
Indoors
Size: 
Approx. 4-5mm (body length of mature larvae)
Scientific name: 
Anthrenus verbasci

Carpet beetles are an important part of nature's "clean up crew", but can damage certain items such as natural fabrics, carpets, and even preserved animal specimens (like that wild boar head mounted above your fireplace).

Classification: 

Carpet beetle larvae have specialized defensive hairs

A Seed Bug

Where found: 
In the house, falling from a skylight
Size: 
3-4mm (body length)
Scientific name: 
Metapoplax ditimoides

The seed bug Metapoplax ditimoides (family: Oxycarenidae) is relatively new to our area. Originally from the Mediterranean, it was first detected on the west coast in Oregon in 1998, and in Sonoma County in 2002. 

Classification: 

Metapoplax ditimoides, an unwelcome indoor guest

Leafhopper Assassin Bug

Where found: 
In the house- in bed!
Size: 
13mm (body length)
Scientific name: 
Zelus renardii

Although this predatory insect is generally considered to be beneficial, it had an encounter with a Santa Rosa resident that was not beneficial for either party. The insect likely wandered or flew indoors and decided to seek refuge in a bed.

Classification: 

This predator was in the wrong place at the wrong time!

Western Yellowjacket

Where found: 
In-ground nest, San Rafael
Size: 
12mm (body length)
Scientific name: 
Vespula pensylvanica

Western Yellowjackets typically form large, hidden colonies in enclosed spaces (especially in abandoned rodent burrows and occasionally in attics).

Western yellowjackets do not seem to understand or care that it is rude to show up uninvited to a picnic

European Paper Wasp

Where found: 
On aerial nest (6 feet high) inside chicken coop enclosure
Size: 
14mm (body length)
Scientific name: 
Polistes dominula

These paper wasps are relatively new to California. They typically construct uncovered, aerial nests (with populations reportedly reaching up to 200 workers), but unlike our native paper wasps, they will also readily nest within cavities.

She might look like a yellowjacket, but she's not

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