Month: September 2022

Do You Need to Replace Insulation After Mice?

Learn About the Damage Mice Can Cause to Insulation & if it Would Need to be Replaced After an Infestation

More than 14 million homes and businesses experience rodent infestations every year in North America. Not only do mice and other rodents spread dozens of diseases, but they can also wreak havoc inside homes and other buildings.

Mice are among the most common pests found throughout the Northeastern United States, particularly during cool weather when these small critters make their way indoors.

Once inside, they create nests in quiet, dark spots, chew holes through walls, and burrow into insulation, leaving droppings and urine in their wake. Damage to insulation doesn’t always occur, but it’s not uncommon after a mouse infestation, particularly if the mice have nested in the home or building for a significant length of time.

Signs of Mice in Attic Insulation

Mice are often found in attics, where they can often nest undisturbed and undetected. These tiny rodents can cause significant damage, including gnawed wires, chewed woodwork, and contaminated surfaces.

That’s why it’s essential to rely on professional mouse control from a trusted expert like Catseye Pest Control once the infestation is discovered.

Mouse infestation signs to look for include:

  • Noises, such as scratching, skittering, and scurrying, in the attic or wall — especially at night.
  • Gaps and cracks that seem to get larger in walls, trim, or flooring.
  • Wood chips or insulation material on the attic floor.
  • Gnaw marks on wood, food items, cartons, and other objects.
  • Droppings or urine stains on floors, walls, and other areas.
  • Greasy-looking tracks along floors where mice run back and forth, creating a path, and leaving oil deposits behind from their fur.
  • Strong, musty smell in the attic or throughout the home.

In addition to these signs of infestation, a glance at the insulation may also provide clues. Mice often burrow into the insulation to create nests inside. They also use the material to build their nests.

Do Mice Eat Insulation?

Mice tend to chew through almost anything, including wires, cardboard, wood, and insulation. But what do mice do with the discarded remnants and debris?

Occasionally, mice may ingest small bits of insulation. Fiberglass, loose-fill, and batt insulation are particularly appealing because of its warmth and softness.

Although these small, fleet-footed pests may eat small amounts from time to time, it’s more common for them to burrow and tunnel into it. Mice primarily use insulation to add fluff and coziness to their nests.

With their sharp teeth and claws, mice will cause significant damage. Not only do they pose a health hazard, but the critter can also cause moisture and draft problems in homes as the insulation is destroyed.

Complete control is needed to get the situation under control and prevent further damage. The Rodent Plus Program from Catseye can offer peace of mind by locating the source of the infestation, removing all mice, and then keeping them out.

How to Keep Mice Out of Insulation

To keep mice out of insulation (and out of the attic), a multipronged must be taken.

Sealing cracks and openings where mice can enter and investing in exclusion systems can help keep mice out for good.

Additionally, disinfection after an infestation can work to restore healthy living conditions and help prevent attracting mice in the future.

The scent of mouse urine attracts more mice. Researchers have found a protein in the urine of male mice that marks their territory and can attract mice to the area. This underscores the need for complete rodent control and clean-up after an infestation.

If mice have contaminated or damaged insulation, replacing the insulation is a must. Otherwise, debris and excrement may be left behind. Also, holes and gaps can create moisture, leading to mold and mildew.

It can also leave a home or building vulnerable to temperature swings due to compromised insulation.

Some insulation materials are less attractive to mice and rodents.

For example, blown-in foam and cellulose insulation may not be rodents’ first choice for burrows and nests. However, no reliable rodent-resistant insulation is available on the market.

The only sure way to keep mice out of insulation is by using a reputable rodent control program and an exclusion system that acts as a safe, natural, permanent barrier.

Catseye can facilitate this need through our state-of-the-art Cat-Guard Exclusion System that is comprised of three parts.

Once the infestation has been professionally handled and the exclusion system is in place, the next step is to clean up the area and replace the insulation. This process is vital in restoring the building to its rodent-free condition and eliminating the threat of possibly spreading rodent-borne illnesses.

Contact Catseye for Complete Control & Peace of Mind

With decades of experience providing pest control throughout Massachusetts, Southern New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, Catseye has the expertise needed to remove mice and restore your peace of mind.

With our comprehensive exclusion services, cleanup and restoration program, and Platinum Home Protection, we can get mice out and help keep them out of your home, attic, and insulation.

Contact Catseye today for more information about how we can help mitigate an infestation or to schedule a free inspection.

The post Do You Need to Replace Insulation After Mice? appeared first on Catseye Pest Control.

This article appeared first on Catseye Pest

How to Get Rid of Mice & Rats in Your Restaurant

Discover Restaurant Pest Control Solutions to Eliminate & Prevent Rodent Infestations

As people throughout the New England area and the rest of the world continue recovering from the pandemic, rodent activity has increased.

Mice, rats, and other rodents have taken advantage of the brief lull in activity in commercial spaces to move in and nest. As a result, restaurants have seen an uptick in mice and rat activity, making restaurant rodent control even more critical.

Safe food storage and cleanliness aren’t the only issues that can derail a health inspection. Evidence of mice and rats in a restaurant can be the difference between passing or failing. Professional restaurant pest control, such as the rodent control services offered by Catseye Pest Control, can eliminate these critters, and prevent them from returning.

Importance of Restaurant Rodent Control

Professional pest and rodent control can help restaurants avoid equipment damage caused by rodents while ensuring guests and employees remain safe, healthy, and happy.

Mice and rats in a restaurant can cause a ripple effect that can ultimately impact the business’ bottom line. If a customer sees a mouse or evidence of rodent infestation, it will undoubtedly leave a bad impression that spreads throughout the community and beyond.

Not only will rodent infestations drive those customers away, but it will also increase the odds of getting negative reviews, which can have a lasting effect on business. 

Health and safety are significant pressing issues. Rats, mice, and other rodents carry more than 35 diseases that can spread to humans. Common rodent-borne conditions include leptospirosis, hemorrhagic fever, and hantavirus, a common rodent-borne illness that affects the lungs and causes symptoms like fever, muscle aches, and shortness of breath.

Many common diseases spread through human contact with mice and rat saliva, urine, and feces. In addition to carrying pathogens that can directly cause human illness, these critters can also introduce ticks, fleas, and mites into interior spaces. The pests add a menu of additional problems to the mix. 

How to Prevent Mice & Rats in Restaurants

One of the most effective ways to get rid of rats in restaurants is to prevent them from getting inside in the first place.

Start by conducting a thorough walkthrough of the kitchen, dining areas, and exterior. Mice and rats can enter buildings through cracks as small as a dime, actively gnawing tiny openings as needed. Proactive, preventive steps include:

  • Filling holes, cracks, and gaps in exterior walls.
  • Sealing spaces around windows and doors.
  • Promptly repairing roof damage.
  • Moving dumpsters as far as possible from the exterior of the building.
  • Trimming vegetation and branches away from the building.
  • Repairing damage to sewer pipes.

When restaurants call Catseye for a free inspection, trained pest and wildlife control professionals walk through the space, completing a through inspection.

In addition to looking for evidence of rodents and other critters, they look for entry points mice and rats can exploit, along with other potential problems. But identifying these issues is only part of the solution.

To prevent these critters, and many others like bats or squirrels, from accessing the building, Catseye’s state-of-the-art exclusion system will need to be installed.

The Commercial Cat-Guard Exclusion System offers a natural, safe, humane, long-term solution to rodent problems. Cat-Guard provides a barrier that protects common entry points like exhaust vents, rooflines, spaces behind appliances, sanitation lines, and more.

How to Get Rid of Mice, Rats & Rodents in Restaurants

Female mice and rats can have as many as 12 babies every three weeks, which is a recipe for disaster. Therefore, complete control needs to be top priority for restaurants that attract mice, rats, and other rodents.

Getting rid of rodents requires more than setting traps or baits.

Thorough removal consists of a three-point approach that starts with rodent control.

Although restaurant owners can attempt removal and cleanup on their own, it is not advisable. Using poisons to control the population can taint highly regulated spaces that must remain free of contaminants.

Instead, restaurant owners should rely on highly trained technicians to use rodent stations to catch and remove mice and rats from restaurants.

Once removed, professional disinfection services will eliminate droppings and sanitize the impacted areas, returning the restaurant to its once rodent-free condition. In the third step, professionals seal openings to keep mice, rats, and other rodents from entering in the future.

How Often Should Rodent Control be Done in a Restaurant?

Commercial spaces cannot approach pest and rodent control as a one-and-done process.

Ongoing monitoring is needed to ensure critters don’t return, and continuous control measures are necessary to keep other nuisance wildlife at bay.

How often pest control is needed depends on various factors, including the types of pests invading the building, the conditions, and location of the establishment. Working with a professional pest control service is the ideal way to establish a customized treatment and prevention plan for ongoing pest control.

Professional pest and nuisance wildlife technicians will develop a plan to control pests to help ensure the business is safe and clean for employees and customers alike.

Year-round pest control relies on programs tailored to the business’ unique needs to getting rid of rodents, eliminating other pests, and maintaining the conditions needed to pass health inspections.

Contact Catseye for Professional Restaurant Pest Control

The question isn’t just how to get rid of mice in restaurants — it’s how to keep them (and other pests) from ruining the business.

The solution?

Professional pest control services administered by experts with decades of experience providing inspections, preventative treatments that don’t interfere with business operations, and exclusion for superior protection.

Don’t let mice, rats, or other critters become unwelcome guests in your restaurant. Contact Catseye to schedule a free inspection today.

The post How to Get Rid of Mice & Rats in Your Restaurant appeared first on Catseye Pest Control.

This article appeared first on Catseye Pest

Carpenter Bee Damage, Removal & Repair

Discover the Signs of a Carpenter Bee Infestation, Damage & How to Have the Pest Safely Removed

When the forecast calls for warmer temperatures, the number of bees and other flying insects in the air creates quite a buzz. Some of these insects are beneficial and harmless, but others, including carpenter bees, can cause a significant amount of damage to property and even people.

All too often, homeowners see bees and assume they are dealing with harmless honey bees or bumblebees. Unlike the varieties of bees that live together in nests, carpenter bees are solitary creatures that live alone in nests made by burrowing into wood.

Their life cycle typically spans one year, with mature adults emerging from winter hibernation to mate in April or May.

Young carpenter bees hatch during the late summer months. By August or September, the bees leave their nests to feed and pollinate flowers along the way before hibernating during the winter.

How can you tell the difference between bumblebees and carpenter bees? Bumblebees have hairy abdomens, while carpenter bees are shiny and hairless. They tend to gather near wood structures found on a property — and therein lies the problem.

Even though these bees play an essential role in the ecosystem, carpenter bee damage can be serious.

What Attracts Carpenter Bees?

Wood is one of the chief elements that attracts these destructive pests, but it’s not the only thing that may draw them to a home or property. Understanding what attracts them can help when creating a prevention and control strategy for carpenter bees.  

The more wood there is on a property, the more likely the property will attract carpenter bees. Untreated, unpainted lumber, particularly soft wood varieties, is particularly appealing to carpenter bees.

The less work females must do to drill into the wood, the more likely they are to view it as potential shelter.

Stacks of firewood, wood fences, sheds, decks, wood siding, rotting wood areas in older homes, and other wooden structures may draw carpenter bees to a property. Other conditions that attract them include:

  • Flowers provide pollen and nectar for bees to eat.
  • Old plank ends are ideal for drilling.
  • Abandoned nests can be reused, often with expanded damage.
  • Sheltered spots like eaves and corners under roof overhangs are quiet and secluded.
black and brown carpenter bee drilling a hole into wood found on a house

Signs of Carpenter Bee Infestation

Holes in wood are one of the main signs of carpenter bee damage. The holes are typically round, with a diameter around the same size as an adult finger.

At first glance, the openings may appear to be only an inch or so deep, but these bees usually tunnel far into the wood. After the initial inch, most tunnels branch off and extend for another six inches or more.

In addition to the holes, other signs that carpenter bees are present include:

  • Carpenter bee droppings, which are greenish-yellow or yellowish-brown.
  • Wood shavings or piles of sawdust outside of holes.
  • Bees flying in and out of holes or hovering near wooden structures.
  • Scratching sounds coming from inside wood.

Carpenter Bee Damage

When the stinging pest builds nests, carpenter bees drill and tunnel into wood to create chambers where their eggs can be laid.

They don’t eat wood, but they do excavate and destroy wood in their quest to build their nests.

Carpenter bee damage isn’t systemic as it would be with termites or carpenter ants. However, a large infestation or one that’s been thriving for years can create significant problems, including:

  • Structural Damage: If carpenter bees have been reusing the same wooden structure year after year, the large number of tunnels can start to weaken the wood. This is one of the most dangerous types of carpenter bee damage because it can compromise the structural integrity of a home or building.
  • Woodpeckers: The carpenter bee larvae and pupae inside tunnels make an ideal snack for woodpeckers looking for their next meal. To get to the insects inside, woodpeckers will make more holes in the damaged wood, making the structure weaker and potentially dangerous.
  • Water Damage: Water can get inside more easily when a large infestation produces several holes throughout a wooden structure.
  • Stained Wood: The exterior of tunnels and other areas like siding, roofs, and more can become stained from carpenter bee excrement.

Carpenter Bee Droppings

Carpenter bee droppings are another sign that these pests have invaded.

The excrement is sticky and acidic, which makes it difficult to remove. It can also eat through paint, etch glass, and damage siding if left untreated.

To remove carpenter bee droppings, spray the affected area with a water hose. Then use soap and water to remove it thoroughly before rinsing the spot a final time.

Carpenter Bee Removal & Repair

Prevention can only do so much. Finishing and treating wood can help to reduce the odds that carpenter bees will nest there, but it won’t eliminate the risk altogether.

Removing these pests without professional help isn’t recommended, particularly if it’s a large infestation. Professionals have the necessary skills, experience, and equipment to remove the bees safely.

Additionally, even though carpenter bees rarely sting, females may sting if feeling threatened. Stings can be painful, toxic, and even trigger an allergic reaction.

As such, inexperienced individuals should not attempt carpenter bee removal and exclusion on their own. Instead, the help of an experienced professional is essential. This will help to ensure the safety of those on the property and help to prevent future infestations.

Professionals like Catseye Pest Control use specialized tools and tailor-made process that can fit into small crevices to mitigate carpenter bee damage and infestations.

To effectively control carpenter bees, it’s necessary to find and remove all nests located deep within the wooden structures around the property. Any traces of nests left behind could attract bees in the future.

Once the pest has been safely removed from the area, Catseye also offers a Carpenter Bee Damage & Control program designed to repair carpenter bee damage and work to prevent infestations in the future.

To start the carpenter bee removal process, schedule a free inspection. Our highly trained pest and nuisance wildlife technicians will conduct a thorough inspection of your property.

During the process, they pinpoint factors that may attract carpenter bees and identify entry points to nests before creating a customized plan for carpenter bee removal and damage repair.

Would you like to learn more? Contact us online today or call 888-260-3980, and we’ll be happy to answer questions.

The post Carpenter Bee Damage, Removal & Repair appeared first on Catseye Pest Control.

This article appeared first on Catseye Pest

Steel-blue cricket-hunters steal lives: Steel-blue cricket-hunters, Chlorion aerarium


With a cricket securely tucked beneath, a steel-blue cricket-hunter scaled my brick siding, apparently to gain altitude for flight to her nesting site. Image credit: Paula Shrewsbury, PhD


Somewhere in my basement, a male field cricket provides a chirpy serenade, a reminder that summer has ended and fall has arrived. To his kin outdoors, chilly weather will soon end their chirps and merry-making. But one grim reaper of crickets, the steel-blue cricket-hunter, brings an even quicker end to the halcyon days of crickets. In weeks past, I watched this frenetic, dazzling blue wasp inspecting shredded bark, small twigs, and miniature caverns beneath edging stones in my butterfly garden. The speed with which this sizable hunter (up to 1 ¼ inch) dashed about the landscape challenged me to keep up as I tried to record its movements. In the case of the steel-blue cricket-hunter, prey are elusive and in this game speed is of the essence.

As field crickets chirp a farewell to summer, they are stalked by a formidable enemy, the steel-blue cricket-hunter. With wings twitching nervously, a female takes off on her quest. First stop, a patch of mulch which turns out to be not quite the right spot to find her prey. Next stop, a stone wall where crickets hide in dark rocky crevices. After disappearing briefly, she emerges with her prize, a paralyzed cricket soon to be delivered to a subterranean nursery as food for her young.

Burrows of cicada killer wasps are often used as nest sites for steel-blue cricket-hunters.

One of the primary prey insects of the steel-blue cricket-hunter is the Pennsylvania field cricket. This large boisterous troubadour often invades homes and conducts its arias from the basement in late summer and autumn. Accounts of the steel-blue cricket-hunter describe the wasp flushing the cricket from hiding, pouncing on the victim, and delivering several stings, each laced with potent venom that ultimately paralyzes but does not kill the prey. The wasp then straddles the cricket and using its powerful mandibles, grasps the cricket and carts it away to a subterranean lair. The lair of the cricket-hunter often adjoins the burrow of its larger ground nesting cousin, the cicada killer wasp, which we met in a previous episode of Bug of the Week. Existing burrows fashioned by cicada killers serve as an atrium for cricket-hunters, which construct smaller tunnels originating from the shaft excavated by the larger wasp. Within these tunnels, cricket-hunters construct multiple cells, each of which may be provisioned with as many as nine crickets. The female wasp then closes the burrow using stones, bits of wood, and other debris. However, before she leaves each cricket-filled cell, one of the hapless victims receives a lethal gift from the female wasp: an egg, that hatches in about a day. The tiny wasp larva feasts on its natal host, then consumes the larder left by its mother in less than a week. After completing development, fresh new cricket-hunters emerge from their pupal cases, escape from the earth, and begin the search for prey. 

In addition to ridding the world of crickets, other parasitic wasps like the blue-winged digger wasp, Scolia dubia, and its congener Scolia nobilitata, provide important ecosystem services as pollinators and biological control agents of insect pests, including Japanese beetles. For the past several weeks, my flowers have been bustling with wasps and bees of several varieties as they feed on the nectar and pollen. Once fueled by nature’s ambrosia, these predators dash away, seeking other insects as food for their young. The next several weeks provide excellent opportunities to enjoy these clever hunters.


The fascinating article by David Peckham and Frank Kurczewski entitled “Nesting behavior of Chlorion aerarium” was used as a reference for this episode. We thank Dr. Paula Shrewsbury who photographed the steel-blue cricket-hunter with its prey and for providing the inspiration for this story.

This post appeared first on Bug of the Week

When pearly-eye meets dragonfly: Northern pearly-eye, Enodia anthedon, and clubtail dragonflies, Gomphidae spp.


Gorgeous Cobra Clubtails often rest with wings widespread on trees near their riverine hunting grounds.


The sleepy rivers and streams flowing in the Cacapon watershed in West Virginia’s panhandle are home to a rich bounty of plants and animals. Along creeks, ponds, and moist forest edges, blades of white cutgrass and bottle brush grass provide nutrition for caterpillars of the pretty pearly-eye butterfly. Adult pearly-eyes cruise verdant forest glens in search of sap-fluxes on trees and deposits of animal dung, from which they harvest proteins and carbohydrates used to develop eggs and to provide energy to search for just the right vegetation on which to deposit eggs. But for pearly-eyes, danger lurks along the creek banks and pond edges in the form of fearsome aerial hunters, clubtail dragonflies.

While living the life aquatic, fierce dragonfly nymphs consume untold numbers of mosquito larvae.

Dragonflies belong to an ancient order of insects called the Odonata that evolved some 300 million years ago. Both adult and juvenile Odonata are predators. Dragonfly nymphs live the life aquatic, prowling slow moving creek beds and ponds searching for aquatic invertebrates like mosquito larvae, and even small vertebrates like tadpoles and small fish. In a previous episode, we saw the lightning fast strike of dragonfly nymphs as they captured and ate unsuspecting mosquito wigglers. Dragonfly nymphs have been touted as providing significant reductions in mosquito populations around the world. Adult Odonata are familiar to most of us and go by the common names of dragonflies and damselflies. More than 6,000 species of dragonflies and damselflies have been described.

Dragonflies are masters of the aerial hunt and capture their victims while on the wing. Legs festooned with stout spines are held basketlike beneath the dragonfly as it zooms through the air. Prey such as moths, butterflies, bees and sometimes other Odonata are captured in the basket. Does eating your near relative somehow seem so wrong? One large and particularly aggressive clubtail dragonfly, Hagenius brevistylus, is nicknamed the dragonhunter due to its Hannibal Lecter-like propensity to eat other dragonflies and damselflies. Dragonflies often consume their prey while in flight. When not in flight, meals are enjoyed on vegetation or stones, as is the case with the clubtail we meet in this episode.

Northern pearly-eye butterflies are common denizens of riparian forests in the eastern United States. They rest on vegetation and tree trunks. But when in flight, they are hunted by fierce aerial predators, clubtail dragonflies. Watch as a clubtail chows down on a hapless pearly-eye butterfly. Clubtails show no kinship loyalty when it comes to dining. This one is happy to feast on an unlucky damselfly.

Dragonfly nymphs exit their aquatic nursery, climb vegetation, and shed juvenile skins to become aerial hunters in the world above the water.

Many species of dragonflies reside year-round in the DMV and spend the winter underwater as juveniles. Others, like the common green darner, migrate to southern realms in autumn to avoid winter’s chill and return north the following year. In fact, dragonflies are contenders for the world record of longest insect migration. Pantala flavescens, the “winged wanderer”, is thought to cross oceans and continents with migratory flights of more than 10,000 miles in search of exactly the right pool of water in which to deposit eggs. In the waning days of summer, enjoy these magnificent predators that roamed our skies millions of years before the first dinosaurs walked the earth.


“Dragonflies as an Important Aquatic Predator Insect and Their Potential for Control of Vectors of Different Diseases” by Hassan Vatandoost, “Tiny dragonfly shatters insect migration record-Insect traverses oceans and continents” by Virginia Morell, and “Beginners guide to dragonflies” by Blair Nikula, Jackie Sones, and Donald and Lillian Stokes were consulted to prepare this episode.

This post appeared first on Bug of the Week

Devilish times for hickory: Hickory horned devils and royal walnut moths, Citheronia regalis


Adorned with horns and almost six inches in length, the hickory horned devil caterpillar is harmless unless you are a hickory tree. Image credit: Bill Miller


The ginormous pupal case of the royal walnut moth is the largest one I’ve ever seen.

Hickory trees are one of my favorites by virtue of their delicious edible nuts and spectacular fall color, which is just around the corner. Ah, but I’m not the only one with a fondness for hickory and this week Bug of the Week had the chance to visit one of the coolest members of the Lepidoptera clan who also love hickory, not for its nuts or fall color but for its nutritious leaves. Let’s see one of the most fantastic members of the silk moth family, a huge beautiful caterpillar called the hickory horned devil. Last week a lucky gardener shared an image of an enormous caterpillar resting on vegetation in his landscape. How lucky was he to find a hickory horned devil? Real lucky, as my one and only personal encounter with this beauty happened a few years ago when bug-centric neighbors delivered to me a rather large, dark, cigar-shaped object they discovered in the duff beneath a walnut tree. Not many insects in Maryland form a pupa that can fill a hand, but this one did. The lucky pupa took up residence on my kitchen counter for a month or so until one morning a vacant pupal case was replaced by a very impressive moth clinging to the sofa in the family room.

From her royal chamber, the female royal walnut moth released a pheromone to attract a mate. It worked and in the morning a male had joined her in the cage.

The royal walnut moth, a.k.a. regal moth, has but one generation in Maryland each year. Life is short for giant silk moths such as this. Unlike its relatives, butterflies or hawk moths, silk moths lack functional mouthparts and do not eat as adults. They live only a few days. Their sole mission is to find a mate, mate, and lay eggs in a suitable place before being discovered and eaten by a bird or other hungry predator. To attract a mate, a female moth releases a volatile attractant called a sex pheromone. Usually, this takes place on an upright structure such as the trunk of a tree on the night following emergence from the pupal case. Not wishing to stand in the way of true love, but concerned that this magnificent princess would be eaten by a bird, my royal walnut moth was confined, Rapunzel-style, in a predator-proof bridal chamber, which was in this case a squirrel-proof bird feeder. On the evening of her resplendent debut, she was placed outside to court her mate. Her pheromones were strong and apparently irresistible. In her chamber the following morning was a male royal walnut moth.

‘Tis the season when hickory horned devil caterpillars will be seen strolling on patios as they search for places to pupate. Their story began weeks ago when male and female royal walnut moths hooked up and the female deposited eggs on leaves of hickory and other members of the walnut family. Eggs hatched into bizarre tiny caterpillars with very stout spines. They grew into gorgeous green giants before moving to the soil to form a pupal case to pass the wicked winter. Next spring beautiful royal walnut moths will emerge from these pupal cases. Video credits: Diane Pedicini, M. J. Raupp

Female (above) and male (below) royal walnut moths make a regal couple indeed.

Shortly after the royal couple completed their connubial interlude, the female left her chamber and began to deposit eggs on almost every surface she encountered. While taking a momentary rest on my leg, she treated me to eight large eggs just above the ankle. The eggs of the royal walnut moth are typically laid on leaves of a tree suitable to meet the nutritional needs of the developing larvae. Eggs hatch in about a week and the larvae develop into one of the most striking caterpillars on the planet, the hickory horned devil. This giant of the silk moth world may attain a size of five to six inches when fully grown.

Leaves of walnut and hickory are favored sites for royal walnut moths to lay eggs.

Favored hosts for larval development are plants in the family Juglandaceae such as walnut, butternut, and hickory. Hickory horned devils have also been recorded eating ash, beech, lilac, persimmon, sumac, and sweet gum. Fortunately, the male performed his task admirably, and after a few weeks dozens of small devils hatched from the eggs. The task of feeding this many hungry mouths soon exceeded the time budget of this bug geek and after a couple of weeks and a few quick molts, the caterpillars were emancipated to several walnut and hickory trees on the College Park Campus of the University of Maryland. Perhaps the wisdom and beauty of a creature that has transcended epochs of change on our planet can impart some of the same to this year’s incoming class of freshman. Let’s hope so.


Bug of the week thanks Bill Miller for providing the image of a hickory horned devil that served as the inspiration for this episode. Many thanks to Diane Pedicini for the cool video of a hickory horned devil crawling across her patio, and to Jeff and Linda for providing a giant pupa for this episode. David Wagner’s incomparable ‘Caterpillars of Eastern North America’ was used as a reference.

This post appeared first on Bug of the Week

Tiny toads and even tinier toad bugs: Big-eyed toad bug, Gelastocoris oculatus


Toad bugs really do live up to their namesake in both appearance and hopping ability.


Many common names of insects tell us something about their appearance and traits. For example, lace bugs surely have delicate lacey wings and stink bugs certainly live up to their name with their odor. This week along the pebble strewn banks of Catoctin Creek, a bucolic tributary of the mighty Potomac River, we visited small jumpy toads and even smaller jumpy toad bugs. Toad bugs are somewhat obscure and often overlooked members of a large clan of insects known as Hemiptera. Here in North America we have more than 10,000 species of Hemiptera, but less than 10 species of toad bugs. We met many other hemipterans in previous episodes including heroic predators like wheel bugs and two-spotted stink bugs, and other hemipterans which are sometimes meals for these heroes like the felonious brown marmorated stink bug.

Like all predatory hemipterans, toad bugs have sucking mouthparts used to pierce the exoskeletons of their prey and a tiny pump in their head used to imbibe the liquid contents of their victims. Both immature stages called nymphs and adults cruise over the mud and sand and sneak about pebbles and vegetation lining the creek bank in search of small insects and other arthropods to eat. They hunt like cats – stalking prey, pouncing on them, and subduing them with highly specialized front legs. These raptorial legs are designed with spines to help snare their prey, much like the spines on the forelegs of praying mantises.

A warm late summer afternoon is a hopping good time to visit wildlife on the rocky banks of creeks and rivers. In addition to small jumpy toads, much smaller predators called toad bugs hunt tiny invertebrates along the pebble strewn shore. Watch as a toad bug lives up to its name and makes a jet-propelled escape from the camera lens. Even when slowed by 95% the takeoff is too fast to see. A super-close look confirms their toad-like appearance.

Their unusual body shape and muddy, mottled coloration help them blend in well with the creek bank, thereby avoiding the searching eyes of their own predators. When the subterfuge of camouflage fails, they skitter across the mud and make impressively long jumps to avoid capture by their enemies or bug geeks. At less than a centimeter in length they easily jump more than ten times their body length, shattering Mike Powell’s world record which, by the way, is only about five times his body length. With lots of warm late summer days left before autumn’s chill, head to a creek and cool off. And while you’re wading on the shore, don’t be surprised to see some Fowler’s toads and their hemipteran lookalikes, toad bugs, hopping between the pebbles.


Bug of the Week thanks Ellie, Abby, and Cassidy for helping to spot and catch toads and toad bugs that were the inspiration for this episode. We thank the fine naturalists at Catoctin Creek Nature Center for providing a wonderful refuge for nature amidst a rapidly developing landscape. “An Introduction to the Study of Insects” by D. J. Borer, D. M. DeLong and C. A. Triplehorn was used as a reference for this episode.

This post appeared first on Bug of the Week

(877) 959-3534