Identification of bug - California

A friend found this bug, what is it?

Diamond Bar-ish, California.

A Field Guide to Identification of Insect Pests, Diseases and other Disorders in Blueberries.

This field guide is a tool to aid in the identification of key insect pests, diseases, abiotic disorders and beneficial insects found in blueberry plantings in British Columbia (BC). Also included is a section on important insect pests and diseases that are not present in BC to encourage growers and scouts to be on the look-out for these potential problems.

This guide should be used in combination with the “ Berry Production Guide ” posted by the BC Ministry of Agriculture and other management resources. Once you have identified the problem, use the “ Berry Production Guide ” to find detailed information on life cycles, monitoring and management.

General Guidelines for Scouting in Blueberry Fields.
The blueberry scouting begins for mummyberry at bud break (February-March) then weekly from pink tip until end of harvest (April – September).
Regardless of how often the field is monitored, be systematic and concentrate on the key insect pests and diseases which will vary with the crop stage and variety, seasonal variation and field history. Careful monitoring is important so that problems can be detected early and action taken before serious damage occurs.
When sampling, inspect random bushes at several sites throughout the field to get a clear picture of insect pest distribution. Keep records while scouting, so that trends in insect pest populations and disease severity can be determined. This will help in making management decisions and in evaluating the effectiveness of treatments.
Basic sampling includes inspecting branch tips, blossom or berry clusters for insect pests, such as aphids or leafrollers, and any signs of diseases. Inspect stems and plant base for canker diseases or insect pests, such as scale.

Scouting Equipment.
When scouting fields, it is helpful to carry some basic tools.

  • Notepad
  • Pencil
  • Flagging tape
  • Ziploc-style bags
  • Permanent felt pen
  • Magnifying lens
  • Smart phone equipped with camera
  • Field Guide-App

A clipboard with paper or a notepad can be used to take down notes. A pencil is ideal because it will work, even in the rain. Flagging tape should be used to mark any suspicious plants, especially if samples will be sent for virus testing.
Ziploc-style plastic bags are ideal for collecting leaf samples for virus testing or for collecting samples of insects or disease tissues that will be submitted to a diagnostic laboratory.
A permanent felt pen can be used to write on flagging tape and sample bags.
A magnifying hand-lens is essential, especially early in the season when insects such as aphids are small and hidden within the branch tips.
A digital camera can be useful to keep a photographic record to aid a field representative extension person in helping to identify the problem.

Stag beetles are often very spectacular insects with huge mandibles, or "pincers," which give the insect its common name -- the mandibles on some look like the horns of a stag deer. Stag beetles are shiny brown or black, usually quite large, and have pronounced mandibles that are smaller in the females. As a matter of fact, their smaller, stouter pincers means the female can deliver a much more painful bite than the male.

Stag beetles are not venomous or harmful in any way. The larvae live in rotten stumps and logs and prey on the insects there. The adults often fly to lights on warm summer nights.

Scientific Name: The most common North American species are in the genus Lucanus

Size: Up to two inches in length

Habitat: Larvae live in rotten wood adults often fly to lights at night

Range: Throughout the USA and southern Canada

Notes: These beetles are harmless, although the females can deliver a pinch with their short, sharp mandibles.

Did You Know?

Stag beetles are often raised as pets, especially in Japan.

Stag Beetles: male on left, female on right

Sowbugs and Pillbugs

Sowbugs and pillbugs are similar-looking pests which are more closely akin to shrimp and crayfish than to insects. They are the only crustaceans that have adapted to living their entire life on land. Sowbugs and pillbugs live in moist environments outdoors but occasionally end up in buildings. Although they sometimes enter in large numbers, they do not bite, sting, or transmit diseases, nor do they infest food, clothing or wood. They are simply a nuisance by their presence.


Sowbugs and pillbugs range in size from 1/4 to 1/2 inch long and are dark to slate gray. Their oval, segmented bodies are convex above but flat or concave underneath. They possess seven pairs of legs and two pairs of antennae (only one pair of antennae is readily visible). Sowbugs also have two tail-like appendages which project out from the rear end of the body. Pillbugs have no posterior appendages and can roll up into a tight ball when disturbed, for which they are sometimes called "roly-polies".

Biology and Habits

Sowbugs and pillbugs are scavengers and feed mainly on decaying organic matter. They occasionally feed on young plants but the damage inflicted is seldom significant. Sowbugs and pillbugs thrive only in areas of high moisture, and tend to remain hidden under objects during the day. Around buildings they are common under mulch, compost, boards, stones, flower pots, and other items resting on damp ground. Another frequent hiding place is behind the grass edge adjoining sidewalks and foundations.

Sowbugs and pillbugs may leave their natural habitats at night, and crawl about over sidewalks, patios, and foundations. They often invade crawl spaces, damp basements and first floors of houses at ground level. Common points of entry into buildings include door thresholds (especially at the base of sliding glass doors), expansion joints, and through the voids of concrete block walls. Frequent sightings of these pests indoors usually means that there are large numbers breeding on the outside, close to the foundation. Since sowbugs and pillbugs require moisture, they do not survive indoors for more than a few days unless there are very moist or damp conditions.


Minimize Moisture, Remove Debris

The most effective, long-term measure for reducing indoor entry of these pests is to minimize moisture and hiding places near the foundation. Leaves, grass clippings, heavy accumulations of mulch, boards, stones, boxes, and similar items laying on the ground beside the foundation should be removed, since these often attract and harbor sowbugs and pillbugs. Items that cannot be removed should be elevated off the ground.

Don’t allow water to accumulate near the foundation or in the crawl space. Water should be diverted away from the foundation wall with properly functioning gutters, down spouts and splash blocks. Leaking faucets, water pipes and air conditioning units should be repaired, and lawn sprinklers should be adjusted to minimize puddling near the foundation. Homes with poor drainage may need to have tiles or drains installed, or the ground sloped to so that surface water drains away from the building. Humidity in crawl spaces and basements should be reduced by providing adequate ventilation, sump pumps, polyethylene soil covers, etc.

Seal Pest Entry Points

Seal cracks and openings in the outside foundation wall, and around the bottoms of doors and basement windows. Install tight-fitting door sweeps or thresholds at the base of all exterior entry doors, and apply caulk along the bottom outside edge and sides of door thresholds. Seal expansion joints where outdoor patios, sunrooms and sidewalks abut the foundation. Expansion joints and gaps should also be sealed along the bottom of basement walls on the interior, to reduce entry of pests and moisture from outdoors.


Application of insecticides along baseboards and other interior living areas of the home are of little use in controlling these pests. Sowbugs and pillbugs which end up in kitchens, living rooms, etc. soon die from a lack of moisture. Removal with a broom or vacuum is all that is needed. For large infestations, insecticides may help reduce inward migration of these and other pests when applied outdoors, along the bottom of exterior doors, around crawl space entrances, foundation vents and utility openings, and up underneath siding. It may also be useful to treat along the ground beside the foundation in mulch beds, ornamental plantings, etc., and a few feet up the base of the foundation wall. (Heavy accumulations of mulch and leaf litter should first be raked back to expose pests for treatment.) Insecticide treatment may also be warranted along foundation walls in damp crawl spaces and unfinished basements.

Various insecticides sold in hardware/lawn and garden shops are effective, including Sevin, and permethrin (Spectracide Bug Stop). Treatment can be accomplished with a compressed air (pump up) or hose end sprayer.

CAUTION! Pesticide recommendations in this publication are registered for use in Kentucky, USA ONLY! The use of some products may not be legal in your state or country. Please check with your local county agent or regulatory official before using any pesticide mentioned in this publication.


How to Manage Pests

Glassy-winged sharpshooter female next to an egg mass laid under the epidermis of the lower leaf surface (on left).

Glassy-winged sharpshooter egg mass with parasitoid emergence holes.

The glassy-winged sharpshooter, Homalodisca vitripennis (formerly H. coagulata), is an insect that was introduced into California in the late 1980s. This insect is native to the southeastern United States and was most likely brought into southern California accidentally as egg masses in ornamental or agricultural plant foliage.


The glassy-winged sharpshooter is a large leafhopper that obtains its nutrients by feeding on plant fluids in the xylem, the water-conducting tissues of a plant. Feeding on plants rarely causes significant plant damage, although the insects do excrete copious amounts of liquid that can make leaves and fruit appear whitewashed when dry. The excrement, which is not necessarily damaging, can be a cosmetic nuisance when shade trees are heavily infested, because cars parked under the trees tend to become spotted. Additionally, during hot weather, large populations of glassy-winged sharpshooters feeding on small plants may cause them to wilt.

The main problem associated with the glassy-winged sharpshooter is that it can transmit the plant-pathogenic bacterium Xylella fastidiosa from one plant to another. This bacterium has a broad host range, able to infect hundreds of plant species in dozens of plant families. Although infection by X. fastidiosa does not lead to disease in many of these host plants, it does cause several important, often fatal, plant diseases in California. This includes Pierce&rsquos disease of grape, alfalfa dwarf, almond leaf scorch, and mulberry leaf scorch. Other diseases caused by this bacterium in landscape plants include oleander leaf scorch, sweet gum dieback, and cherry plum leaf scorch. Other strains of X. fastidiosa cause phony peach disease, plum leaf scald, bacterial leaf scorch in a wide range of shade trees (sycamore, elm, maple, oak), citrus variegated chlorosis, coffee leaf scorch, and olive quick decline disease, but these diseases have not been confirmed in California. It should be noted that the strain of X. fastidiosa that causes oleander leaf scorch will not cause Pierce&rsquos disease in grapes and the strain of X. fastidiosa that causes mulberry leaf scorch does not cause disease in oleanders or grapes. At this time there is no cure for any of these diseases. For more information on oleander leaf scorch, see the Pest Notes: Oleander Leaf Scorch.

When a glassy-winged sharpshooter feeds on a plant that is infected with X. fastidiosa, it may acquire the bacteria, which attaches to and multiplies within specific portions of the insect&rsquos mouthparts. The sharpshooter then may inoculate the bacteria to another plant when it feeds. Once acquired, sharpshooter adults are infective immediately, and they remain so for the remainder of their life. Immature sharpshooters are only infective until they molt, at which time they shed the bacteria as they pass to the next stage of development. For more information about X. fastidiosa and its transmission by sharpshooters and other vectors see the websites listed in the Suggested Reading section below.


The glassy-winged sharpshooter is a large insect compared to other leafhoppers. Adults are approximately 1&frasl2 inch long and are generally dark brown to black when viewed from the top or side. Wings are clear with red venation that fades as they age, but they appear dark brown due to the body coloration beneath them. The abdomen is whitish or yellow. The head is brown to black and covered with numerous ivory to yellowish spots. These spots help distinguish glassy-winged sharpshooter from a close relative, smoke-tree sharpshooter (Homalodisca liturata), which is native to the desert region of Southern California. The head of the smoke-tree sharpshooter is covered with wavy, light-colored lines, while the glassy-winged sharpshooter head is covered with spots. In profile, the immature stages (nymphs) of the glassy-winged sharpshooter look similar to that of the adult, except they are smaller, wingless, uniform olive-gray in color, and have prominent bulging eyes.

Before laying eggs, the female secretes a chalky white substance that she transfers to the upper wings forming white spots. After laying the eggs, she covers them with this chalky material by transferring it from the wings. Thus, the white spots on the wings are only visible on females shortly before laying a batch of eggs and are not present on males. Females lay egg masses, in groups of 8 to 12 eggs arranged side-by-side, under the epidermis of the lower leaf surface of young, fully developed leaves. When it is first laid, each individual egg appears as a greenish blister beneath the epidermis of the leaf. Shortly after the eggs hatch, the leaf tissue surrounding the egg mass begins to turn brown and remains as a permanent brown scar.

In Southern California and in the San Joaquin Valley, the glassy-winged sharpshooter typically has two generations per year. It overwinters as an adult feeding on citrus and other non-deciduous plants, moving to deciduous plants in January and February where adults feed on the sap from the leafless twigs before returning to the non-deciduous plants during cooler evening hours. These overwintering adults begin laying eggs in February but lay most of their eggs in late March and April. At this time, first generation eggs are easily found on the non-deciduous hosts. Eggs hatch in 10 to 14 days and the nymphs feed on the leaf petioles or young succulent stems while they progress through five immature stages. In the summer, first generation adults begin to appear in May through July. Egg laying for the second generation occurs between mid-June and October. The nymphs emerging from these egg masses typically develop into overwintering adults.

The glassy-winged sharpshooter is found in many habitats, including agricultural crops, urban landscapes, native woodlands, and riparian vegetation. It feeds on hundreds of plant species across dozens of plant families. Hosts include numerous common woody plants as well as annual and perennial herbaceous plants. It is common to find this insect on acacia, avocado, eucalyptus, citrus, crepe myrtle, heavenly bamboo, grape, photinia, pittosporum, hibiscus, periwinkle, xylosma, some roses, and many others. Host preference changes throughout the year, depending on the availability and nutritional value of host plants. Some hosts are preferred for feeding while others are preferred for reproduction. Irrigation level and fertilizer additions can also impact the attractiveness of hosts for sharpshooters.

Glassy-winged sharpshooter is established in residential and agricultural settings throughout most of southern California. In the San Joaquin Valley, it is abundant in much of Kern County and is locally abundant in certain parts of Tulare and Fresno Counties. Other localized infestations have occurred in parts of San Luis Obispo, Santa Clara, Contra Costa, Solano, Sacramento and Butte Counties, but were successfully eradicated. Nonetheless, there continues to be great concern that this insect may eventually invade most California counties, leading to certain restrictions on the shipment of host plants from areas where the glassy-winged sharpshooter is established. The map shows the areas in California where this sharpshooter has been found and counties where it is feared that the pest may establish if introduced. For the most recent information, see the California Department of Food and Agriculture website listed in Suggested Reading.


For areas where the glassy-winged sharpshooter is not established, it continues to be important to identify new infestations as soon as possible. This requires careful monitoring and detection. If you find glassy-winged sharpshooter in an area not currently known to have this pest, immediately call the California Department of Food & Agriculture pest hotline at 1-800-491-1899, or contact your local agricultural commissioner&rsquos office.

In areas where the glassy-winged sharpshooter is established, the principal reason for controlling the glassy-winged sharpshooter is to prevent the spread of X. fastidiosa to susceptible plants. Plants cannot be cured of the disease. Management of glassy-winged sharpshooters in a residential setting relies on biological control in the surrounding environment and, in some cases, chemical control.

Detection and Monitoring

Even though this insect is large enough to be seen with the naked eye, it is inconspicuous in nature. The brown coloration of the insect blends in with the color of the twigs where it is usually found, and it hides by moving to the other side of the twig or branch when it detects movement or is otherwise disturbed. When inspecting host plants for glassy-winged sharpshooters, focus your attention about 6 inches to 1 foot from the tips of new shoots. This is where they prefer to feed. For taller hosts such as trees and grape arbors, the presence of small droplets of liquid falling as a mist from the canopy or whitish, powdery coating on leaves or fruit indicated that sharpshooters are present overhead. Yellow sticky cards are the preferred monitoring method for government agencies that track glassy-winged sharpshooter populations. If you find one of these cards on your property, direct any questions or inquiries to the phone number indicated on the trap.

Cultural Control

Once glassy-winged sharpshooter is established in an area, there are no cultural controls available to manage them. However, preventing transport of infested plant material to areas where glassy-winged sharpshooter is not established is an essential step in slowing further spread in California. Nurseries shipping plants out of an infested area must follow rigorous treatment programs and have the plants inspected before they are shipped and again after they arrive at their destination.

Biological Control

Following the invasion of glassy-winged sharpshooters in California, multiple species of small wasps in the genus Cosmocomoidea (formerly Gonatocerus) were introduced for its control. These parasitoids, which attack and complete their entire life cycle within a glassy-winged sharpshooter egg, are now established in all regions of California where glassy-winged sharpshooters exist. Eggs parasitized by these tiny wasps are easily identified by pinpoint holes found at one end of the egg (Figure 5). Parasitoid populations are typically low early in the year, providing modest parasitism (10 to 50%). However, by the late summer or early fall these wasps can cause upwards of 90% mortality of glassy-winged sharpshooter eggs. It is important to support biological control by avoiding the use of broad-spectrum insecticides that may kill parasitoids and beneficial arthropods that eat sharpshooters (such as spiders, assassin bugs, praying mantids, and lacewings).

Chemical Control

In the event of glassy-winged sharpshooter spread to new areas, residential insecticide treatments may be necessary as part of localized eradication efforts by state and federal regulatory agencies. Otherwise, in most parts of California, insecticide applications for the control of glassy-winged sharpshooter are typically not recommended around homes and urban landscapes. This is because populations are generally low and under good biological control, and there is a relatively low prevalence of Xylella diseases in urban settings. The exceptions are cases where residents notice large sharpshooter populations on particularly favored hosts, such as some varieties of citrus, or rare instances where populations in ornamental plantings are high enough that white residues from excrement production become a significant nuisance.

The most common insecticides used for glassy-winged sharpshooter contain the active ingredient imidacloprid. Some retail imidacloprid products available to residents include Bayer BioAdvanced 12 Month Tree and Shrub and Bayer Advanced Fruit, Citrus and Vegetable Insect Control. Applications are made by calculating the amount of product needed (depending on the size of the tree or shrub), diluting the product with water, and pouring the mixture around the base of the plant where it soaks into the soil. With appropriate watering, the active ingredient is absorbed by the roots and moved throughout the plant in sufficient quantities to protect against sharpshooters. Typically, the plant becomes protected within a few weeks. Imidacloprid treatments may have a secondary benefit by helping to control other common sucking insect pests, such as some scales, aphids, or whiteflies. Recent research has suggested that imidacloprid may be less effective than in the past when used against glassy-winged sharpshooters in agricultural fields in Kern and Tulare Counties. Therefore, urban landscapes close to these agricultural areas may experience less effective control with imidacloprid products.

In instances where the white excrement produced by this pest causes residues on cars or other surfaces, other insecticides can be applied to infested foliage to provide immediate relief. The least toxic and least disruptive to biological control are insecticidal soaps and oils. Insecticidal soaps and oils are only effective in killing the soft-bodied nymphs of the glassy-winged sharpshooter and must directly contact the insect to kill it, so thorough coverage of the plant or tree foliage is essential. Applications of these materials need to be repeated at 7- to 10-day intervals. Other insecticides (including Bioadvanced Insect, Disease and Mite Control, Ortho Insect, Mite and Disease 3-in-1, or Sevin Insect Killer) are available for foliar applications that are more effective for longer periods of time. However, these materials may be more harmful to the parasitic wasps and predatory insects that provide biological control, and they can be toxic to pollinators. For all insecticide applications, it is important to follow application instructions on the label to minimize harm to pollinators and other beneficial insects.


Varela LG, Smith RJ, Phillips PA. 2001. Pierce&rsquos Disease. UC ANR Publication 21600. Oakland, CA.

Wilen CA, Hartin JS, Henry JM, Costa HS, Blua M, Purcell AH. April 2008. Pest Notes: Oleander Leaf Scorch. UC ANR Publication 7480. Oakland, CA.


For current information regarding glassy-winged sharpshooter see the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) website.

For a map of infested sites in California see the CDFA website.

For more information on plant diseases caused by Xylella fastidiosa, see the University of California, Berkeley website.


Pest Notes: Glassy-winged Sharpshooter
UC ANR Publication 7492

AUTHORS: Lucia G. Varela, UC Statewide IPM Program/UC Cooperative Extension, Sonoma County, Cheryl A. Wilen, UC Statewide IPM Program/UC Cooperative Extension, San Diego County, Matthew P. Daugherty, Entomology, UC Riverside, and David R. Haviland, UC Cooperative Extension, Kern County.

EDITOR: B Messenger-Sikes

PDF: To display a PDF document, you may need to use a PDF reader.

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
All contents copyright © 2019 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Identification of bug - California - Biology

Emerald ash borer (EAB) is a beetle, named for the appearance of the adult stage of the insect, which is a metallic emerald green. The adults are about 10-13 mm long and cylindrical (somewhat bullet-shaped). When the wing covers and wings are pulled back, a metallic pinkish-red colour can be seen on the upper part of the beetle’s abdomen. You may see adult beetles from late May until August, depending on the temperature conditions in your area.

Adult emerald ash borer beetle showing reddish abdomen.
Image: David Cappaert, Michigan State University,

The female EAB lay eggs in crevices or slits in the tree's bark. The tiny, oval eggs (about 1.2 mm long) are well hidden, so they are difficult to see. The eggs are white when they are first laid but turn brown after a few days.

Emerald ash borer eggs are white when first laid and turn brown after a few days.
Image: Debbie Miller, USDA Forest Service,

Larvae hatch from the eggs after 2-3 weeks. Larvae are translucent white, and have ten segments, the last one having two dark brown spines on the end. EAB has four larval stages (instars), so four distinct sizes of otherwise similar looking larvae can be found fully-grown larvae are up to 30 mm long.

Emerald ash borer larva with 10 trapezoid-shaped segments.
Image: Chris Gynan, Silv-Econ Ltd.

Newly hatched larvae bore into the inner bark layer of the tree where they start to feed. Larvae feed in a serpentine pattern leaving an S-shaped gallery this gallery is distinctive and when found under ash tree bark is a good indicator that the tree is infested by EAB. The part of the tree where larvae feed (inner bark (phloem) and outer sapwood) is where nutrients and water are transported through the tree, so when the larvae consume enough of it (this usually takes a year or more) the tree will start to decline and eventually die.

Serpentine emerald ash borer gallery.
Image: Troy Kimoto, CFIA

After feeding for several months over the summer, the larvae bore into the sapwood of the tree to spend the winter and to pupate. The pupae are the same shape as the adult beetle but are white when newly formed and then start to look like adult EAB as they develop. After the pupal stage is completed, the adult EAB emerges in the spring, boring through the bark to leave the tree. This leaves a distinctive D-shape exit hole in the bark (approx. 3.6 mm by 2.8 mm), that can be seen on the surface of the tree.

Emerald ash borer pupae and adults showing the progression of maturation.
Image: Debbie Miller, USDA Forest Service,

Adult EAB only live 2-3 weeks which is why insecticides targeting the adult stage are not effective. The entire EAB lifespan described here usually lasts one year, but some EAB need two years to develop.

Typical D-shaped exit hole made by emerald ash borer adult emerging from the tree.
Image: Kathleen Ryan, Silv-Econ Ltd.

Emerald ash borer is a proficient flyer and can disperse to new areas naturally, but it is also moved longer distances in infested firewood wood.



The first instar nymph is approximately ¼&rdquo long and black with white spots, and occasionally mistaken for a tick. Second and third instar nymphs are also black with white spots, but the fourth instar nymph takes on a red coloration with white spots and can be up to ¾&rdquo. Fourth instar nymphs molt and become adults approximately 1 inch in length.

Spotted Lanternfly early instar nymph. Photo: L. Barringer, PA Dept. of Agriculture, Spotted Lanternfly 4th instar nymph. Red pigment is acquired at this stage. Photo: Tim Weigle, NYSIPM.


Many photos of adult SLF show wings open, including the red underwings, but in nature this only occurs when the SLF is startled or is ready to take flight. It is much more common to see adults at rest with black-spotted, pinkish-tan wings folded over its back. Both male and female SLF have yellow abdomens with black stripes. Female SLF have a set of red valvifers at the distal end of the abdomen. When gravid (mated), the female abdomen swells to the point where they find it difficult to fly.

Spotted Lanternfly adult, side view. Photo: NYSIPM Staff.

In the photo above, you can see the following characteristics:

  • Wings have a pinkish tint, are tent-shaped, and are approximately 1 inch long and 1/2-inch-wide at rest.
  • About 2/3 of the length of the forewings are black spotted the posterior end of forewings has a brick pattern.
  • The unusual short antennae are bulbous orange with needle-like tips.

Egg Masses

Females lay one or two egg masses, each containing 30 &ndash 60 eggs laid in rows. She covers them with a creamy-white, putty-like substance that becomes pinkish-gray as it dries. After a few weeks the covering turns a darker tan and starts to crack, resembling a splotch of mud. Depending on the substrate, egg masses can be extremely camouflaged. SLF lay eggs on any hard, smooth surface, including rusty metal when the population density exceeds preferred egg laying sites. This may include cushions on outdoor furniture and the rough bark of conifers.

Spotted Lanternfly adult females covering freshly-laid egg masses with a putty-like substance. Photo: NYSIPM Staff. Spotted Lanternfly egg mass.
Eggs are laid in 1 inch long segmented rows egg masses may contain up to about 60 eggs. Sometime during winter, the covering begins to crack. Photo: Emelie Swackhamer, Penn State University.

Insect identifier App by Photo, Camera 2020

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Insect identification make up the great biodiversity of the earth. There are several million insect species, and entomologists have divided them into a reasonable number of units called "orders." The members of each insect order come from a common ancestor, have similar structural features, and have certain biological characteristics.

All insect orders are not the same number of species Some orders have only a few hundred species, others more than 100,000. The range of structural features and biological characteristics tends to be wider among the higher-ranking species.

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Powderpost Beetles

Powderpost beetles are second only to termites in their ability to damage dry, seasoned wood. And yet, customers often receive conflicting opinions about whether the insects and/or damage they are seeing is indeed due to powderpost beetles. Mistakes also are made in determining whether the infestation is active, and if so, how it should be managed. As a result, the pests may cause considerable confusion for homeowners, wood suppliers, manufacturers, builders, and even pest control companies. This publication explains how to make those determinations.

Types and Habits

“Powderpost beetle” is a term used to describe several species of small (1/8-3/4 inch long) insects that reduce wood to a flour-like powder (Figure 1). The developing grub-like larvae inflict damage as they create narrow, meandering tunnels in wood as they feed. Tunneling and larval development take place entirely below the wood surface. Infestations typically are discovered after noticing powder, accompanied by small, round “shot holes” in the wood surface. These are exit holes where adult beetles have chewed out of the wood after completing their development. Newly emerged adults mate and lay eggs on or below the surface of bare, unfinished wood. The eggs hatch into tiny larvae that bore into the wood, emerging as adults one to five years later, usually during late winter, spring or summer depending upon species. Customers are more likely to see damage, rather than the beetles themselves, because the adults are cryptic and active mainly at night. Occasionally, the beetles may be found near damaged wood, or on windowsills since some are attracted to light.

Fig. 1: Powderpost beetles produce small round holes accompanied by wood powder.

The three most destructive groups of powderpost beetles are the lyctids , anobiids , and bostrichids . Each group contains several species capable of damaging wood materials.

Lyctid powderpost beetles are small (1/16-1/4 inch), narrow and elongated, reddish-brown to black beetles (Figure 2). Their emergence holes are round and about the size of a pinhead. The powdery dust feels like flour or fine talc, and often accumulates in small piles beneath or beside emergence holes. Lyctid powderpost beetles attack only wood products manufactured from hardwood (broadleaf) trees such as oak, ash, walnut, hickory, poplar or cherry. Consequently, infestations are often associated with flooring, paneling, molding, window and doorframes, and furniture. Lyctids do not normally infest structural building components (studs, joists, beams, etc.) since these usually consist of non-vulnerable softwoods (conifers/evergreens). Tropical hardwoods are especially prone to lyctid infestation because of poor storage and drying practices before importation. Articles made from bamboo are commonly infested as well. Plywood fabricated from hardwood veneers may be attacked, but damage is usually confined to the hardwood layer in which eggs were initially laid since the larvae tend to avoid glues and resins. Construction plywood (used for subfloors, sheathing, etc.), is made from softwood and is unsuitable for infestation by lyctids.

Fig. 2 Lyctid powderpost beetles. The powder is the consistency of flour.

After emergence and mating, female beetles locate susceptible wood to lay eggs. Ten to 50 eggs per female are inserted into the tiny pores and vessels of unfinished wood. Surfaces that are stained, varnished, waxed or painted are immune from attack (although larvae already within infested wood may emerge through finished surfaces). Also avoided are softwoods such as pine. Before depositing eggs, female lyctid beetles “test” the suitability of wood for the larvae, which require starches and sugars for development. If the starch content of wood is insufficient (less than about 3 percent), the females will not use it for egg laying.

Lower starch levels also make it harder for the larvae to complete their development. In newly seasoned wood with abundant nutrients, egg to adult development occurs in less than a year. Conversely, as wood ages, starch content declines and development slows to the point where some beetles may not emerge for two or more years if at all. Consequently, infestations eventually cease and die off even without intervention — an important factor when weighing treatment options (see ‘Managing Infestations’). Small numbers of beetles developing within wood may continue to emerge for up to about five years. This is due to diminished suitability of the wood rather than from new infestation. Homeowners should be aware of this possibility.

Lyctids have less stringent moisture requirements than other types of powderpost beetles. Infestations can persist in wood with a moisture content as low as about eight percent, a common occurrence in indoor, temperature-controlled environments. However, in drier wood (less than 10% moisture) maturation of larvae is prolonged, due to declining starch content.

As noted earlier, lyctid beetles typically start emerging from wood within a year of processing. Thus, infestations usually are encountered in new homes or newly manufactured articles. In almost all cases, infestation results from wood that contained eggs or larvae at the time it was brought into the dwelling. This is significant because responsibility for treatment or replacement often resides with the supplier, manufacturer, or installer, rather than the homeowner. The infested article probably was constructed from wood that was improperly dried or stored. Although lyctids sometimes infest firewood, this is seldom the reason other materials become infested within a home.

Bostrichid powderpost beetles vary in size depending on the species. Most associated with wood products are reddish-brown to black beetles ranging in length from 1/8-1/4 inch. Compared to lyctids, bostrichids are less narrow-bodied and flattened, and the head is oriented downward, appearing somewhat “hooded” (Figure 3). Many species also have tiny, roughened, rasp-like protrusions behind the head, and some have a pair of projecting spines at the end of the body. Bostrichids create circular 1/8-1/4 inch holes in wood like other powderpost beetles. Female beetles have the unusual habit of boring directly into wood in order to lay eggs. These holes are devoid of powder. Conversely, holes formed by beetles upon completing their development are packed with powder. Wood powder produced by bostrichids is more meal-like than lyctid powder and tends to remain tightly packed in the holes and feeding galleries of the larvae.

Fig. 3: Bostrichid powderpost beetles have a ‘hood like’ appearance up by the head.

Bostricid powderpost beetles are more serious pests of hardwood than softwood. There is little risk to softwood framing within homes. Similar to lyctids, bostrichids usually attack newly processed woods with high starch and moisture content. Tropical hardwoods (including bamboo) are especially vulnerable to attack, which often occurs prior to importation. Although bostrichids seldom re-infest wood after the first generation emerges, extensive damage can occur the first year due to a high initial population and rapid development.

Anobiid powderpost beetles are convex, reddish to dark brown beetles capable of attacking both hardwoods and softwoods. They are sometimes confused with drugstore and cigarette beetles that also occur in homes but infest stored foods. The emergence holes are 1/16-1/8 inch. Rubbed between the fingers, the powder sifting from the holes and accumulating in small piles may feel gritty (although for a few species attacking hardwoods this is not the case). Unlike the powderpost beetles discussed previously, anobiids can seriously damage beams, joists, and other structural components of buildings. Anobiids prefer to infest moist wood. A 13-30% moisture content is required for development of the larvae. Consequently, infestations are most severe in damp crawl spaces, basements, garages, and unheated outbuildings (Figure 4). Buildings with central heating and cooling seldom have sufficient dampness to support beetle development in living areas or attics.

Fig. 4: Anobiid powderpost beetles infest damp areas such as crawl spaces.

Anobiid infestations occur throughout much of the country, but are more common in the southeastern and coastal states where humidity and temperature are high and crawl space construction is abundant. Unlike lyctids and bostrichids, anobiid powderpost beetles can digest the cellulose within wood, and are less dependent on starch and other nutrients that decline over time. This allows them to attack and infest wood regardless of age. In Europe, for example, some species of anobiids continue to infest wood in buildings that are centuries old. Larval development occurs slowly, exceeding 2-3 years if conditions are suboptimal. As a result, infestations are seldom obvious in buildings less than 10 years old. Although damage occurs slowly, the ability of emerging beetles to re-infest wood year after year can lead to serious problems requiring treatment and repair.

Emergence of adult anobiids generally occurs during the spring and summer months. In nature, they dwell in dead tree limbs or bark-free trunk scars. The adults are strong fliers and some are attracted to lights. Infestations within buildings may originate from infested lumber, firewood, or from beetles entering from outdoors.

Mistaken Identities

Many similar-looking beetles that are not powderpost beetles may occur within buildings. It is important to know the difference to avoid confusion and ensure that costly treatments and repairs are not made unnecessarily. Definitive diagnosis usually requires confirmation by an entomologist or knowledgeable pest management professional. As noted previously, powderpost beetles are sometimes confused with other small brown or black beetles infesting stored food items (flour, cereal, grains, seeds, nuts, spices, pet/bird food, etc.). Examples include flour beetles, drugstore and cigarette beetles, weevils, and merchant/sawtoothed grain beetles. These pests typically occur near stored food items in kitchens, pantries, etc.

Another pest group often mistaken for powderpost beetles scavenge on surface molds associated with damp conditions. One of the most common is the foreign grain beetle (Figure 5). These beetles are small (about 1/16-inch long), brownish, and abundant, with large numbers often observed throughout the building. The key characteristic to look for in identifying this beetle is the presence of a slight projection or knob on each front corner of the shield-like segment directly behind the head. A microscope or other means of magnification is necessary to see this characteristic. Foreign grain beetles are one of a group of beetles that feed on molds and fungi growing on poorly seasoned lumber or wet plaster and wallboard. They often are a problem in newly built homes. When new homes are constructed, microscopic surface molds form on damp wood and sheetrock, which in turn attracts the beetles. In older homes, foreign grain beetles may be associated with plumbing leaks, condensation problems, or poor ventilation. None of the beetles in this category damage wood once the moisture condition is resolved, the surface molds disappear along with the beetles. (For more on this pest, see University of Kentucky Entomology Entfact-610).

Fig. 5: Foreign grain beetles are often mistaken for powderpost beetles (note the two small ‘knobs’ just behind the head).

Is the Infestation Active?

Powderpost beetle infestations often die out of their own accord. Therefore, it is important to know whether the infestation is active or inactive before taking action. Active infestations usually have powder that is the color of freshly sawed wood sifting from the exit holes. Compared to old, abandoned holes, new holes will not have taken on the weathered appearance of the surrounding wood (Figure 6). If flooring, cabinetry, etc. were previously stained, new emergence holes will have no traces of stain inside the holes. If accumulations of powder appear yellowed, caked, or covered with dust or debris, the damage is probably old. Careful observation may be required to distinguish new powder from powder dislodged out of old larval galleries by vibrations.

Fig. 6: Active versus inactive infestations. The former usually have fresh powder accompanying the emergence holes.

Another way to confirm that an infestation is active is to mark or seal any existing holes, sweep or vacuum up all powder, and recheck the wood for new holes and powder later on. Since most beetle emergence occurs in spring or summer, you may wish to wait until then to determine if new holes and fresh powder are present. This makes particular sense when attempting to determine whether an infestation is active during fall or winter.

Managing Infestations

Clients should know that there are a few different options for controlling powderpost beetles. Choosing the best approach depends on such factors as degree of damage, potential for re-infestation, and expense—both financial and emotional— that one is willing to bear. Powderpost beetles damage wood slowly. There is no need to act immediately for fear of risking the structural integrity of one’s home. A “wait and see” approach often makes the most sense, especially when there is uncertainty whether the infestation is active.

Prevention-Powderpost beetles, especially lyctids and bostrichids, typically enter buildings in lumber or manufactured articles, e.g. flooring, cabinetry, molding, paneling, furniture. Infestation occurs after wood is sawn into lumber and then sits in storage, or during transit and distribution. It is prudent for wood manufacturers to inspect incoming shipments for signs of beetles before they turn them into finished products. Wood that is suspect should not be used, especially if fresh emergence holes or powder is present. Many of the most serious infestations occur from using old lumber from a barn or woodpile to panel a room or build an addition.

Powderpost beetles lay their eggs only in bare, unfinished wood. Surfaces that are stained, varnished, painted or otherwise sealed are generally safe from future attack. Beetles emerging through such coatings were usually in the wood before the finish was applied. Although beetles emerging from finished wood can potentially re-infest by laying eggs in emergence holes, sealing the holes prevents this possibility.

Wood Replacement - Oftentimes, indications of beetle activity are limited to small sections of flooring or a few pieces of molding, trim, etc. The most efficient approach is often to remove and replace them, along with any boards or pieces directly adjacent as a precaution (Figure 7). This is especially true when the damage is due to lyctids or bostrichids. As noted, these powderpost beetles have a difficult time re-infesting wood after emerging indoors since, at that point, most surfaces are finished and starch and moisture is declining. When replacing sections of flooring, difficulties sometimes arise in matching the finish of the existing floor. If this is the case and the entire floor needs to be sanded and refinished, it is often prudent to wait at least six months in case more holes appear and additional boards need replacement.

Fig. 7: Replacing small sections of damaged wood can be an effective means of control.

Lethal Temperatures- Before wood is used for construction or manufacturing, most of the water is removed by air-drying or kiln drying. Kiln-dried lumber is heated for a period of hours to a temperature of about 125-140°F. This is sufficient to kill all stages of powderpost beetles that might be in the wood prior to heating. However, even wood that is properly kiln dried may become infested during subsequent storage and transit. The longer wood sits in a vulnerable condition, the greater the chance beetles will find and lay eggs on the lumber.

The pest control industry also uses heat to treat dwellings and furnishings for bed bugs. While it would be difficult to kill wood-boring beetles in ‘built in’ components like floors and cabinets, de-infestation of furniture and similar objects may be possible within a heat chamber. Pest control firms use stationary and portable heat chambers of various sizes. Temperatures employed or for powderpost beetles would be similar to those used for bed bugs (120-135°F), although exposure times might need to be longer, e.g., up to 24 hours, depending on wood thickness. Powderpost beetles can also be killed by placing smaller items such as wood carvings and picture frames in a deep freeze (0°F) for 3-7 days, again depending on wood thickness. For more on this topic, see University of Kentucky Entomology Entfact-640, Thermal Deinfestation of Household Items.

Moisture Control-Anobiid powderpost beetles in particular have high moisture requirements for survival. Wood moisture below 14 percent during spring and summer are generally unsuitable for development. Therefore, it is advisable to install a moisture barrier in damp crawl spaces that are infested. Covering the soil with polyethylene sheeting reduces movement of moisture into the substructure and reduces the threat of the infestation spreading upward into buildings. Other ways to lower wood moisture content in crawl spaces is to improve drainage and increase air circulation by installing foundation vents. Moisture meters utilized by pest control firms are handy tools for measuring the moisture content of wood and predicting the potential for infestation (Figure 8).

Fig. 8: Moisture meters are useful tools for predicting potential reinfestation.

Residual Insecticides - Various insecticides are used to treat beetle-infested wood. Insecticides known as borates are most widely used for this purpose. Borate sprays have the potential to penetrate and kill beetles within wood, as well as those entering or exiting the wood surface. Depth of penetration will depend on wood moisture content the damper the wood, the deeper the borates will penetrate. Two different formulations are used, Bora-Care and Tim-bor. Both products are virtually nontoxic and odorless.

For borates to penetrate the wood surface must be unfinished the spray will not penetrate paint, polyurethane, or other water repellent coatings. For this reason, the products have limited use for treating infestations within the living areas of homes. They are most often used for control and prevention of anobiid powderpost beetles infesting joists, beams, sills, studs, and other structural elements of buildings.

Borate sprays are sometimes used to treat beetle-infested hardwood floors, which first requires sanding to remove any finish. Besides being costly and disruptive, such treatments are seldom necessary since emerging lyctids and bostrichids are unlikely to re-infest. Additionally, in temperature-controlled buildings the moisture content of wood flooring tends to be around 10%. Borate penetration into wood this dry would be minimal and likely would have little effect on developing larvae.

Fumigation-Fumigation is an extreme and costly option for ridding a building of powderpost beetles. Homes undergoing fumigation are sealed with tarps and occupants must remain out for about three days. The concentration of gas is monitored and maintained at a specified level, and before being reoccupied, the building is ventilated.

Current fumigants containing sulfuryl fluoride are less effective against wood-boring beetles than those containing methyl bromide, which is no longer available. Consequently, de-infestation may not be successful. Structural fumigation may be warranted when infestations (typically of anobiids) have spread into walls, between floors, and other areas where access for surface treatment or wood removal is impractical. The best way to avoid such problems is early detection and one or more of the corrective actions mentioned earlier. Portable items such as furniture can be fumigated more effectively and at substantially lower cost than fumigating an entire building. Infested items are placed under tarps or in trailers or vaults to maintain gas concentration at the proper level. Some pest control companies offer this service to customers.

In Summary

Discovering powderpost beetles can be very concerning to homeowners. It is important to diagnose the problem correctly in order to avoid unnecessary effort and expense. Confirmation of the type of beetle, and whether the infestation is active are crucial first steps. Other considerations include location and extent of the infestation, and the type, age, moisture content, and condition/surface finish of the wood. Since powderpost beetles damage wood slowly, take time to consider the options available for remediation.

CAUTION: Some pesticides mentioned in this publication may not be legal in your area of the country. If in doubt, please consult your local cooperative extension service or regulatory agency. Furthermore, ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW LABEL DIRECTIONS FOR THE PRODUCT YOU ARE USING.

Identification of bug - California - Biology

Adult EAB are about 10-13 mm long, cylindrical (somewhat bullet-shaped), and metallic emerald green. When the elytra (hard wing covers) and wings are pulled back a metallic pinkish-red colour is seen on the upper part of the beetle’s abdomen. The male and female beetle look similar to each other. The adult beetles can be seen from late May until August, depending on the temperature conditions in your area.

Adult emerald ash borer beetle showing reddish abdomen.
Image: David Cappaert, Michigan State University,

After mating, and feeding for about 10 days, the female beetle lay eggs individually in bark crevices or slits, or under flaps in the tree's bark [28] . The tiny, oval eggs (about 1.2 mm long) are well hidden, so they are difficult to detect [28] . The eggs are white when they are first laid but turn brown after a few days [28] . Females lay eggs on all sides of the tree, but they prefer sun-exposed sides [28] . They are also observed to lay more eggs on rougher bark [4] . The estimated number of eggs that each female can lay is variable, from 33 to 68-90 eggs [3,28] .

Emerald ash borer eggs are white when first laid and turn brown after a few days.
Image: Debbie Miller, USDA Forest Service,

Larvae hatch from the eggs after about 2-2.5 weeks. Larvae are translucent white, flattened, and relatively thin. Larvae have ten trapezoidal segments, the last having two dark brown spines [28] . EAB has four larval stages (instars), so four distinct sizes of otherwise similar looking larvae can be found fully-grown larvae are up to 30 mm or more long. The entire larval stage lasts 300 days or longer [22,28] .

Emerald ash borer larva with 10 trapezoid-shaped segments.
Image: Chris Gynan, Silv-Econ Ltd.

The newly hatched larva bores through the tree bark into the inner bark layer of the tree where it feeds in the phloem and outer sapwood throughout its larval stages [28] . Larvae feed in a serpentine pattern either up or down the tree typically leaving a distinctive S-shaped gallery in their wake this gallery is distinctive and when found under ash bark is a good indicator that the tree is infested by EAB [28] . Some larvae feed in a more linear fashion, especially in smaller diameter stems or branches [28] . Regardless of its shape, the feeding gallery becomes wider along its length as the larva grows larger, and the gallery is filled with a fine frass (which looks like sawdust) that the insect excretes as it feeds. Larvae bore into the sapwood or into the bark (approx. 1-7 mm) to overwinter and to pupate [3,28] .

Serpentine emerald ash borer gallery.
Image: Troy Kimoto, CFIA

The pupae are the same shape as the adult beetle but are white when newly formed and then start to look like adult EAB as they develop. After the pupal stage is completed (5-13 days), the adult EAB emerges in the spring, boring out of the overwintering chamber and through the tree bark [28] . This leaves a distinctive D-shape exit hole in the bark (approx. 3.6 mm by 2.8 mm), evident from the outside of the tree [28] .

Emerald ash borer pupae and adults showing the progression of maturation.
Image: Debbie Miller, USDA Forest Service,

Adult EAB feed on ash leaves, this feeding damage is visible on the edges of leaves but the feeding damage is minor [28] . Adults only live two to three weeks. They prefer warmth and are more often found on the sun-exposed side of the tree so trapping and sampling techniques are more successful when conducted here.

Typical D-shaped exit hole made by emerald ash borer adult emerging from the tree.
Image: Kathleen Ryan, Silv-Econ Ltd.

The entire emerald ash borer (EAB) lifespan usually lasts one year, but some EAB need two years to develop the one-year life-cycle results in faster population growth than the two-year [22,31] . Two-year development is common at sites with lower populations of the insect conversely, larvae develop more quickly in stressed ash trees [31] . Other factors such as climate could affect the beetle’s development time.

Emerald ash borer is a proficient flyer and can disperse naturally, but the rapid increase in range of the beetle is primarily because it is moved in infested firewood and possibly in nursery stock [22] . In the laboratory, the beetle can fly up to 2.8 km a day for up to four days (max flight 9.8 km overall) on a flight mill but other estimates suggest that mated females could fly over 20 km per day in natural situations [32,33] .