Mandatory Website of the Day: What's That Bug?

Ever find a bug, hideously ugly and strange, that you wanted to identify? Is it poisonous? Should you kill it, watch it, keep it as a pet?

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Well, next time, snap a picture of that bug and send it to Whats That Bug! People from all over the world send in pictures of crazy creepy crawlies to the entomologists who made the website their hobby. So, you can see what people have sent in, not to mention a lot of beautiful and interesting pictures of insects. The responses are friendly, informative, and filled with tips to help you learn to live with and appreciate bugs.

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Or perhaps, you want to jump straight to the good stuff? Well here's the worst bug stories ever, pictures of insect sex (don't worry, its work safe!), and the er...extermination stories.

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Unfortunately I encounter the Giant Water Bug (Ekectric Light Bug, Toe-Biter) quite frequently, and I really only know what it was because in my first encounter a particularly large one careened off an outdoor light onto the ground in front of me, and I decided I had to know what it was.

The do have a nasty bite with digestive toxins, but other than being very painful it's not particularly poisonous.

I struggle with the kill it/let it be bit every time I see one.

I also had a close encounter with a Giant Water Bug, in highschool on a tennis court in SC. Literally, the thing was dive-bombing me and my tennis partner (attracted to the bright lights on the court, at night). We were FREAKING out, as we'd never seen such a huge, ugly bug before. After a few minutes, it tired, and I scooped it up in an empty tennis ball can and QUICKLY sealed the lid. Its strong jaws/claws/forceps were making dents in the plastic. I took it to school the next day and asked my clueless science teacher what it was (dead by then). She said, "It looks like Kafka died." I donated the bug to our class's bug collection, where as far as I know its label still reads "Kafka."

As a kid I was really bug crazy- so my sister saw me pick up all kinds of fierce-looking bugs. She was especially frightened of cicadas.

Just last year, some 25 years or so later, her son found a really big preying mantis. She had become desensitized to bugs by my harrassing her, and told him it was harmless. They are, generally, but can put the hurt on you with their spiky arms when they pinch. He got a little bloodied by it, but my sister says he is undeterred.

Another nephew picked up what turned out to be a wheelbug, and put it in a jar- his mom made him call me (the family scientist, though I'm no entomologist) and had me figure it out. (Wheel bug pics and info can be found at http://www.uky.edu/Ag/Entomology/entfacts/trees/ef426.htm )

These things bite, so I'm glad they were cautious. The 'What's that Bug' link would have been useful.

By Dave Eaton (not verified) on 19 Sep 2006 #permalink

Wow, those wheel bugs look/sound scary! Right up there w/ the toe-biters for sure. Your nephew(s) are far braver than I. Any clue as to why the wheel bugs are called that, and why they are only in Kentucky?