What kind of weird little insect is this?

What kind of insect is this?

I found it in my work room.

I live in the city of São José dos Campos, São Paulo, Brazil

This is probably a nymphal stage of a stink bug (aka shield bug).

Based on the roundness of your specimens, I'd suspect that they represent possibly the 1st or 2nd instar development stage.

I am unsure of the species currently, though I suspect this is an image of the adult (wrongfully labeled as a "bed bug" at its source):

Source: Shutterstock

I will dig into the Brazilian fauna to see if I can get you a species…

Vinegar is a liquid consisting mainly of acetic acid (CH3CO2H) and water, produced during the fermentation process of ethanol by acetic acid bacteria. Basically anything that has sugar in it and is exposed to air will turn into vinegar.

From the early days of Greek physician Hippocrates, vinegar is deeply rooted in history and comes from the French compound word “vin aigre” (sour wine). Today, besides being used for food, vinegar has many other uses:

  • As a cleaning agent
  • As a natural herbicide
  • To help manage diets by increasing satiety (the feeling of fullness)
  • For medicinal purposes (managing diabetes, as a clotting agent, healing burns and skin inflammations, or for relief of headaches caused by heat)

Go to the emergency room if you have difficulty breathing after getting bitten or stung.

If you experience difficulty breathing after a bug bite or sting, it could be due to a severe allergic reaction, and according to the Mayo Clinic, you should go to the emergency room.

This reaction is particularly common with bee stings.

Difficulty breathing can be a sign that you have gone into anaphylactic shock, and according to WebMD, if you have a known, severe bee-sting allergy you should carry around any prescribed epinephrine injections at all times.

What kind of weird little insect is this? - Biology

Be careful when you pick one up!

By Doug Collicutt

A knock at the side door was an all too welcome excuse to push back from the keyboard in my basement office. From the foot of the stairs, I could see who it was through the aluminum door. "Hi, Rita," I said. It was a neighbour from across the street.

"Hi, Doug," she answered. "There's this huge insect, like a giant cockroach on the road. I thought you might want to see it." (That, of course, was something that Rita already new. As the "critter guy" in the neighbourhood, she knew I'd want to investigate anything!)

"You bet," I said. "Is it still alive?" I asked as we headed down the sidewalk towards the front street.

"Yeah, it was crawling around," she replied. "It's really big." She pointed to the spot where she'd seen it, but the motion on the asphalt had already caught my eye. And my initial suspicions were confirmed.

"Oh, cool, it's a giant water bug!" I exclaimed as I broke into a trot, then stooped down and grabbed the creature before it could fly away or get run over. I held it up for Rita to see. "It's a nice big one. Wow, that's got to be over 5 cm long." She came a little closer for a better look.


They get their other common name: "toe-biter", as they have been know to deliver a painful bite to the odd lower appendage being dangled off a dock.

"Ooh, weird . . . oh, I think I've seen those before," she said. And she probably had. Giant water bugs are quite common and it's not out of the ordinary for one to be crawling around on dry land. I explained to her that although this was an aquatic insect, it had wings and was a powerful flyer. They are frequently attracted to lights at night, hence another one of their common names: "electric light bug". In so doing they often become disoriented and it's not uncommon to find them in cities along roads or parking lots, having been drawn to street lights. Over the years, I've found many a giant water bug crawling along a stretch of concrete, or schmooshed on it. And I've only ever come across one live one in a pond. "So what are you going to do with it?" she asked.

"Turn it into a Summer Issue Bug Feature on NatureNorth!" I replied. And here it is.

Biology of Giant Water Bugs

The Giant Water Bug that had the good fortune to be rescued by me, rather than being left to get run over on the road turned out to be a specimen of Lethocerus americanus. This is probably the most common species of giant water bug found in Manitoba, although information about them is spotty. I wasn't able to track down exactly how many species we have, but there's likely at least two. Giant Water Bugs belong to the Family: Belostomatidae and fall within the Order: Hemiptera (the bugs), of the Class: Insecta (insects). There are perhaps 150 species of Giant Water Bugs worldwide with the largest being up to 150 mm long (6 inches)!

The habitat of Giant Water Bugs in Manitoba includes ponds, marshes, lakes and slow moving rivers and streams. Lethocerus americanus is widely distributed in North America, but as with many creatures, its exact range in this province isn't known. They are certainly found throughout most of the southern half of the province. If you northern Manitobans have any information on the subject, please let us know.

Adult Giant Water Bugs are most often encountered by people when they are out of their natural element, the water. Adults often fly around, perhaps searching for other water bodies to colonize or for mates. They fly mainly at night and it's thought that they use light sources (before humans this was the moon or stars) as beacons to orient their flight. With the advent of electric lights, Giant Water Bugs, and a lot of other insects, (moths for example) faced a hitherto unknown situation, light sources that were not at a fixed point in the sky. These light sources were close enough that they appear to move as the insect flies, unlike the distant moon or stars. The net result of trying to navigate using a point of light that you think should stay fixed, but which in fact isn't, tends to be flight that spirals in toward the light. Water bugs and other insects may not be "attracted" to lights as much as they are disoriented by them and once too near the light can't find any other beacon to navigate by. In the end they become exhausted from aimlessly flying around the light and end up lying on the ground below street lights on roads or parking lots.

In late spring or early summer the adult bugs mate and the female glues her eggs on the stems of emergent vegetation or other structures just above the water's surface. The male remains nearby to protect them and to keep them moist by periodically crawling out of the water and over top of the eggs. The young are called nymphs and hatch in about 2 weeks. The nymphs resemble the adults and go through 5 developmental stages, shedding their skin to move from one stage to the next. This is known as "simple" metamorphosis. In the "complete" metamorphosis of butterflies and other insects, larvae don't resemble the adults and there is a resting or pupal stage prior to emergence of the fully formed adult. Adult water bugs overwinter in water bodies. (I wasn't able to find out when the last moult from nymph to adult occurs in Manitoba. Does anybody out there know? If so, please drop us a line.)

As larvae, Giant Water Bugs obtain oxygen through their cuticle (skin), but the adults must breath air directly. They do this, and remain under water, by means of a snorkel-like appendage at the base of their abdomens. This tube allows for the exchange of air from the atmosphere to a bubble of air trapped under the wings. Air enters the insect's body through holes, called spiracles, in the abdomen.

Giant Water Bugs, and their nymphs, are fierce predators feeding on small fish, tadpoles, salamanders, even small frogs. They usually hunt by lying-in-ambush clutching a submerged plant or rock with only their breathing tube sticking above the surface. Any passing motion can trigger a rapid "lunge and grab" with the hook-tipped front legs. (My captive bug would even lunge and grab the net or anything else I stuck into the aquarium. I had been warned not to stick my fingers in front of its face and I willingly complied. ) If prey is successfully grasped it is quickly dispatched with a pierce from the bug's needle-like rostrum (fused mouth parts) and an injection of toxic enzymes. These enzymes poison the prey and begin to digest it at the same time. Once the enzymes have completed their job the bug again uses its rostrum, but this time sucks out the pre-digested soup that was its prey, leaving a limp bag of skin. If this critter sounds like some kind of mini-monster, don't despair. In the orient, giant water bugs are renowned as a great delicacy, so, as always, critters seem to have more to fear from us than we from them.

The bug's hunting technique is not limited to lying in wait. It will actively swim after prey that is a ways off or that it has missed on its first lunge. The hind legs are paddle-shaped and equipped with long hairs that fan out as the leg is stroked to increase its effective surface area. Giant water bugs can swim, or scull, through the water rapidly in search of prey or to evade becoming prey themselves.

Giant Water Bugs, ya gotta love'em! So, keep your eyes peeled in parking lots near water, but if you find a live one, pick it up carefully!

A "Critters in the Classroom" Quickie!

If you are lucky enough to find a live giant water bug, they are easy to maintain in captivity. All you need is a small aquarium and some form of live food to offer. Motion triggers their attack so they will only eat live, moving or wriggling prey. Set up the aquarium with a "bubbler" to keep the water oxygenated. Place some sticks or other structures into the aquarium for the bug to hold onto, while it "lies-in-wait for prey". And make sure you have a lid on the aquarium remember, these guys can fly!

You can feed it tadpoles, small fish or worms, about once every 4 or 5 days if the food items are quite large, compared to the bug. If the food items are small then feed it more often. Watch carefully when you add the "prey" as it may be caught and paralyzed almost instantly. If you don't have any live food available you could still keep the bug for several days, but then release it back into a pond or creek. A few days in captivity won't harm it. And its probably better off to have been rescued by you than to have laid around on the road where you found it!

Granite Island Group

Are you a potential target? If eavesdropping on anything you say, write, or do could increase someone else's wealth or influence, then the answer is yes. You are a potential target.

If any of the following warning signs apply and you are concerned about covert eavesdropping or wiretapping, then it would be wise to immediately contact Granite Island Group @ (978) 381-9111, and schedule a "Bug Sweep" or TSCM Inspection. However, do not call from a suspect telephone, cellular telephone, or cordless phone and understand that it is critical that you should get someone from Granite Island Group out to your location as quietly, and as quickly as possible.

  1. Others know your confidential business or professional trade secrets.
    This is the most obvious indicator of covert eavesdropping activities. Theft of confidential information is a multi-billion dollar underground industry in the United States. Often the loss of your secrets will show up in very subtle ways so you should always trust your instincts in this matter. When your competitors know things that are obviously private, or the media finds out about things they should not know, then it is reasonable to suspect technical eavesdropping or bugging.

Who Gets Bugged?

High Threat Business Situations

    Your company has stock which is publicly traded (or will be soon)

Anyone can be the target of covert eavesdropping, however some people are under greater risk than others because of financial position, occupation, legal, or domestic situation.

Know What are Pincher Bugs And the Ways to Get Rid of Them

Contrary to the popular belief, earwigs or pincher bugs don't crawl into people's ears and lay eggs. However, these insects are quite irritating and cause a lot of discomfort in homes globally. In the following writeup, we learn some more facts and ways to get rid of these insects.

Contrary to the popular belief, earwigs or pincher bugs don’t crawl into people’s ears and lay eggs. However, these insects are quite irritating and cause a lot of discomfort in homes globally. In the following writeup, we learn some more facts and ways to get rid of these insects.

They are usually not seen during the day as they prefer spending time in the dark. They hide under things with a flat surface, which is why are often spotted under newspapers, fridge and wardrobe. These bugs prefer nesting in damp places, but can be also spotted in dry areas of the house. These insects are not a threat to humans and even if they bite, only a mild burning sensation is experienced. However, they are quite capable of causing great damage to plants. A clean environment is the only way to keep them away.

Pincher bugs, commonly known as pinchers, are six legged insects from the Dermaptera insect order. They are probably identified by their peculiar pincers that act as forceps situated at the back of the abdomen. This characteristic of having pincers is known as cerci. The order Dermaptera consists of about 12 families and around 1800 species of insects.

Pinchers also have wings folded underneath and are rarely used. They are scavengers by nature but some of them are predators and omnivorous. They feed on plants, fruits, vegetables, and on dead and decaying animal bodies. They also eat live insects such as plant lice and catch large insects such as bluebottle flies with their forceps. They also have been observed eating corn silk and damaging the corn.

Getting rid/Treatment for Earwigs

Pincher bugs or earwigs can really be a frustrating problem in the house and garden. They eat up vegetables, fruits and even spoil plants in the garden and these bugs can cause a lot of issues if they are nesting in the house and garden since a long time. Different studies show there are many methods to control this mess but only few of them actually work. To make sure these bugs leave you and your property in peace, here are some tried and tested methods.

  • Get rid of any waste food or piles of debris from your house.
  • Regularly clean, dust and dispose of any yard waste such as leaves or small grass pieces.
  • Avoid over-watering of your lawns and your gardens.
  • As these insects always get out at night always keep your kitchen area clean after dinner.
  • Seal up any small cracks or holes made around the foundation of your house. Also take care that there aren’t any holes in your window panes and doors, cover them up immediately if you find some, covering up cracks and holes will decrease the relative incidence of this creepy six legged visitor.
  • Natural insect repellents such as boric acid powder can be sprinkled in areas where they are often sighted. However, it is recommended that usage of insecticides or pesticides in the lawn should be avoided as it can prove harmful to the vegetation, pets and kids.
  • Since these scary insects mostly come out at night, try this excellent idea to catch them, in the evening take your old newspaper tear it in to small pieces and wet it a little bit. Take care that it doesn’t get too wet, just damp it and place these damp paper pieces in your plants and the areas from where these bugs enter your house. In the next afternoon, take a plastic bag, wear rubber gloves and collect all those paper pieces and put them in a bag. You will find all the pincher bugs have crawled between the fold and are resting to escape the morning heat. Repeat this step few times in a week and you will get yourself rid of this ugly visitor.

The biggest cause for earwigs entering a home is because of left over food and moisture, eliminate these two and the house would be free of these bugs. These insects are not harmful to humans but are to vegetation and nature around them, so keep your house clean and regularly check up on your garden plants.

Ten Strange, Endearing and Alarming Animal Courtship Rituals

Sage grouse brawl on the lek. Photo © Alan Krakauer / Flickr through a Creative Commons license

Human dating rituals may often seem strange, confusing and not-at-all productive. But the next time you’re wondering if you should wait three days to call, or if you talked too much at dinner, be thankful you aren’t worried you would become dinner.

The male praying mantis knows each time it approaches a female to mate might be its last day on the planet, says Jennifer Verdolin, author of Wild Connection: What animal courtship and mating tell us about human relationships and a featured guest on the D.L. Hughley Radio Show’s “Think Like a Human, Act Like an Animal.”

“If he decides she is ok, he mates with her,” Verdolin says. “If he’s right, he drops off, if he’s wrong, she bites his head off.”

Fortunately for the animal kingdom, not all mating habits are quite so vicious, Verdolin adds. Many involve offerings of gifts or dancing, other stories tell of fidelity or affection. And some mating rituals are familiar to anyone who watches their backyard, or nature documentaries. But there are lesser-known ones that are strange, endearing and even alarming.

To celebrate humans’ upcoming holiday of love and romance, I asked Verdolin and other biologists for tales of fascinating animal mating habits.

Prairie Voles

Prairie voles. Photo © Dave Challender through a Creative Commons license

When monogamous relationships come to mind, we typically think of geese, swans or humans. Rarely do we think of prairie voles. But the tiny mammals are actually quite faithful and affectionate, says Verdolin.

“A recent study showed when their partner is stressed they give them the equivalent of prairie vole hugs and kisses,” she says. “They will spend upwards of 50 to 60 percent of their time together if not more.”

If a member of either sex approaches the happy couple, they will chase him or her away. Unless, of course, the male is drunk. Researchers in Oregon tested the critters’ fidelity while under the influence and found females will become closer to their mates but drunk males will wander.

Nursery Web Spiders

Beautiful Gifts, Lying Males

A female nursery web spider consumes a male after mating. Photo © Tony Court / Flickr through a Creative Commons license

Nothing says “I love you” to a nursery web spider like a little bundle of food wrapped in pretty, white silk. The males bring their gifts to females as a request to mate, Verdolin says.

The female inspects the parcel, and if she accepts, he mates with her while she unwraps and eats the meal. Except research shows the male often lies. If he gets hungry before he brings the gift, he sucks out the food and presents a beautifully-wrapped exoskeleton. “Sometimes they don’t even bother with an exoskeleton,” she says. “They use a twig. Sometimes the females weighs it, but is still fooled by how pretty the wrapping is.” When she finds out, the relationship ends. Immediately.


A male bluegill guards his spawning bed. Photo © Eric Engebretson / Engebretson Underwater Photography used with permission

Many fish species have what biologists call territorial males and sneaker males. The territorial ones will defend their females and eggs from another approaching, aggressive male. The sneakers, which are typically smaller, weaker males, will wait on the outskirts and approach right when the female lays eggs, says Lisa Angeloni, an associate professor at Colorado State University.

But bluegills have a third category of male breeding behavior called female mimics, which are generally older sneaker males. “They look like females and can get close to a territorial male who is trying to fertilize the eggs,” she says. “He will think he is getting another female.”


The World’s Most Unusual Dinner Date

A hangingfly has caught a crane fly as a gift for a female. Photo © Jean and Fred / Flickr through a Creative Commons license

Quantity is key in this relationship. The male hangingfly must find a large enough insect to keep his chosen female busy eating while he mates with her. It takes about 20 minutes for her sperm storage organ to fill, says Angeloni.

If she runs out of food before he’s done, she kicks him off and sends him packing. But if her storage unit fills up before she is done eating the insect, “He’s no longer interested in mating her and will take the food and regift it to someone else.”

Sea Slugs

Photo courtesy of Nico Michiels. [CC BY 2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons

They may be tiny, but the Alderia modesta will fight epic battles. The slugs are simultaneous hermaphrodites, which means they have both male and female reproductive systems.

Wars are waged to decide who will carry eggs and who will fertilize, says Angeloni, who studied the slugs for her doctorate research. The fights are casually called penis fencing. “They appear as though they’re trying to stab each other without being stabbed themselves,” she says. Sperm can be injected anywhere on the animal to fertilize eggs.

Actual mating lasts about five minutes before one or the other finishes and slinks away.

New Mexican Whiptail Lizard

New Mexico Whiptail (Cnemidophorus neomexicanus). Photo © Roger Shaw / Flickr through a Creative Commons license

Mating rituals for these lizards are particularly interesting, because there aren’t any. The entire New Mexican whiptail lizard species found in the southwest U.S. and Mexico is exclusively female.

The species resulted from a hybridization of two other lizards, and because it has double the chromosomes as other lizard species with males and females, can maintain its genetic diversity, according to a 2010 study published in the journal Nature. “But even though they are only females and don’t need males to reproduce, they still engage in simulated sex,” says Verdolin. “And the ones that do engage in simulated sex have more babies.”

Adelie Penguins

Adelie penguins gather rocks to go courting. Photo © Robert Nunn / Flickr through a Creative Commons license

Not all gifts involve food. A male Adelie penguin, living along the Antarctic coast, collects little rare rocks to present to his beloved. The female uses the rocks to line her nest, and if she likes the rock, she will allow him to mate with her, Verdolin says. Unfortunately for the poor male, if he wanders off and another male presents a rock, she will mate with him, too.

Hooded Seals

Male Hooded seal nasal display, St Lawrence Gulf, Canada. Photo © Doug Allan

Fighting over females is common in many species. Elk and deer will sometimes lock together and struggle until one, or both, are killed. Male hooded seals are no different except their first display of prowess comes in the form of large, inflatable pink balloons on their faces.

“Those balloons are sexually selected in this species and males have contests over females,” according to Verdolin. “The winner gets the girl (though the girl may mate with another male too).” When they’re done fighting, the bag deflates for mating. Until the next battle, of course.


A mature male Satin Bowerbird performing his courtship routine at the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra. Photo © Leo / Flickr through a Creative Commons license

Female bowerbirds are less impressed with athletic prowess than they are the male’s ability to dance and decorate. During courtship, male satin bowerbirds build nuptial bowers – which look a bit like towers of sticks – and decorate them with exclusively blue objects. “They will fight, scrap, steal and destroy each other’s structures,” Verdolin says. “They will steal anything blue, and it doesn’t have to be natural, it can be ribbon or plastic, and then the females will go around and inspect them.”

If the female approves of the blue creations, the male then has to dance for her. During some experiments, researchers have placed red objects on the bowers and found females choose smarter males, the ones most able to remove red items.

Sage Grouse

Scenes at a sage-grouse lek in breeding season. Fremont County, Wyoming. Photo © Alan Krakauer / Flickr through a Creative Commons license

Imagine a bar in a rural prairie town packed with testosterone-filled men puffing their chests and doing their best to run each other off. Now put that bar in the middle of the western sage brush and swap out humans for a chicken-sized brown bird called sage grouse.

Each year, male grouse gather on leks to fan their tail feathers like peacocks, blow up their chests and make strange popping sounds in hopes of attracting a mate. Female grouse wander in, appear ambivalent and decide, or not, on the right mate. Dozens or even hundreds can gather at the same time, only to finish by mid-morning, wander in to the sage and wait until the next day.

Which quirky critter matches your Valentine’s style most?

Christine Peterson has spent the past five years writing about science, nature and the outdoors for the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming's statewide newspaper. When she isn't tracking wolves, watching sage grouse or trapping black-footed ferrets, she's chasing trout. More from Christine

These 15 Dirty-Sounding Words Are Just Scientific Terms (So Get Your Mind Out Of The Gutter)

Admit it. Any time someone talks about the planet Uranus, you (or someone else) can't help but revert to being ten years old again and letting out a little snicker.

The same goes for terms like homo erectus and blue-footed boobies.

While the special jargon that scientists use usually makes them sound super-smart, sometimes it sounds downright dirty.

Just check out the list below for 15 more words that sound much more NSFW than they really are.

Formication. It may sound like a word for getting down and dirty, but this is actually a medical term for the sensation that small insects are crawling over your skin. Eek.

Fukalite. Calm down. Fukalite is a mineral composed mostly of calcium, oxygen, and silicon.

Cummingtonite. Not kidding, cummingtonite is a brownish mineral made mostly of iron and magnesium (see below for its chemical formula). It's named after Cummington, a town in Massachusetts.

Schist. Nope, not a curse word. It's actually a common type of metamorphic rock that can be split easily into sheets.

Piloerection. Get your mind out of the gutter. This is the scientific word for when your hair stands on end.

Angina. This is not a body part. It's chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart.

Mastication. This is an activity involving your body, yes, but it's totally PG. It's chewing, the first step in digestion.

Turdus maximus. Completely unrelated to a giant piece of you-know-what, this is the species name for the Tibetan blackbird, a member of the thrush family Turdidae that is found in the Himalayas.

Galactic bulge. You might hear an astronomer use this word, but not in the bedroom -- a galactic bulge is the center of a galaxy made of mostly older stars. The Milky Way's core is made of 10,000 stars, and last year, scientists discovered it is shaped like a peanut.

Sea puss. Nothing body-related, a sea puss is a strong seaward current, riptide or undertow.

Coccyx. We've all got one of these! Commonly referred to as the tailbone, the coccyx is the bony structure at the bottom of your spine.

Albedo. It might sound like another word for your sex drive, but albedo is actually a measure of the reflectivity of Earth's surface -- the amount of solar energy reflected from the Earth's surface back into space.

Uvula. So this is a body part, but it's nothing risqué. The uvula is that strange-looking dangly thing in the back of your mouth. From lubricating the throat with saliva to triggering the gag reflex to assisting with speech, scientists have long debated its true function.

Stimulated Emission. Get your mind off biology and think chemistry and physics. This is a process that occurs when a photon interacts with an atom's electron and causes it to drop to a lower energy level, which then releases energy in the form of another photon.

Arsole. Arsole is an arsenic-based organic compound. Its molecules are ring-shaped.

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are tiny, reddish-brown insects with flattened (unless they have recently fed), oval bodies. They typically hide in cracks and crevices during the day. Bed bugs are nocturnal, emerging at night to feed on blood. Sleeping individuals are easy prey for bed bugs, as they are likely going to be the first warm-blooded bodies the bed bugs will encounter.

Bed bugs use a piercing sucking mouthpart to feed on blood, and their bodies become swollen and dull red after their meals. Bed bug bites, which look similar to mosquito or flea bites, can appear on some people. If you think you have bed bug bites, you should seek professional medical care.

There are other signs to look for other than bites. And bed bugs are notoriously difficult to control. That's why, if you suspect bed bugs in your home, we recommend that you contact a bed bug control professional for help.

Brood X map

But the dangers posed by humans go well beyond a creative chef.

“The exact size of the emergence … will depend on how well they’ve survived since the eggs were laid 17 years ago,” McCloud said. “There has been a fair amount of development (and) urban sprawl … in that time, so that will reduce the numbers of critters emerging.”

Cicadas live under the tree from which their mothers dropped them 17 years ago. If it’s been cut down – or paved over – they can die underground.