Critter Corner

A centipede was happy quite,
Until a frog in fun
Said, “Pray, which leg comes after which?”
This raised her mind to such a pitch,
She lay distracted in the ditch
Considering how to run.
 – Anonymous

More than you wanted to know about BEDBUGS

Bedbugs are on the rise in all 50 states and not just in unsanitary locations. They are also becoming quite resistant to current pesticides.

-- Wingless insects of the family Cimicidae.
-- Small, flat, oval, reddish-brown body. Adults are about the size of an apple seed.
-- Feed on human and animal blood.
-- Active at night and bite any areas of exposed skin, leaving blood spots on bedlinens.
-- Can infest a home and hide in crevices or cracks around beds or furniture.
-- Are not believed to transmit diseases to humans.

-- Females lay from 200 to 500 eggs, which are covered with a glue and hatch in about 10 days. There are five progressively larger nymphal stages, each requiring a single blood meal before molting to the next stage.

-- Can suck up to six times its weight in blood, and feeding can take 3 to 10 minutes.
-- Can live without feeding up to one year.
-- There can be up to three to four generations of bedbugs per year.
Source: University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources and OSU PNW Insect handbook
Day to day:
-- Inspect carefully before buying used furniture.
-- Use metal instead of wood bed frames.

-- Live minimally -- get rid of the figurines, picture frames and clutter near your bed, which make a perfect playground for bedbugs.

Bedbugs in your house:

-- Call a professional exterminator, who will need to make several visits over one to two months to kill all the adults and eggs.

-- Wrap your mattress and box spring with a plastic or allergen cover and place the bed legs in cups of water.
-- Fill wall cracks.
-- Wash infected clothing and sheets in hot water and dry on the hottest setting to kill the bugs.
-- Vacuum repeatedly, and immediately put the vacuum bag in double-plastic and discard.

-- Do not move your mattress, sleep in a different room or sleep at a friend's house -- that will guarantee spreading bedbugs to other locations.

-- Do not buy household insect sprays or bombs -- bedbugs are resistant and will move to another room and infect more parts of your dwelling.

Sources: International Bed Bug Symposium, Washington, D.C., September 2006;
March flies

Not considered a nursery production pest, March flies, Bibio albipennis and Bibio xanthippes, are found on occasion in large numbers in production areas. These flies are dimorphic, the males and females differing in appearance. They are often found joined together. This gave rise to the common name of lovebugs for a similar species, Plecia sp., found in the south. For our area, March fly is a misnomer as they are usually found in April and May in Western Oregon.

More information can be found at the following website: WSU Fact Sheet: March Flies

Larvae of the click beetles are commonly known as wireworms, primarily because of their hardened exoskeleton and elongate body.  Larvae of the brown click beetle, Limonius canus , are especially common in the Pacific Northwest.  Like all beetles, wireworms/click beetles go through complete metamorphosis with egg, larva, pupa and adult stages.  

Click beetles range in size from very small to large, and are commonly rather elongate. Click beetles are generally drably colored. Most found here are tan brown to black and fairly small, about 12 mm long,. The most interesting feature for members of this family is their ability to "click". The clicking mechanism occurs on the underside and is composed of a spine that extends to the rear and fits into a groove in the midbody. With this mechanism the click beetles can flip themselves in the air, often with an audible "clicking" sound; it helps them to turn themselves over when they are on their backs, and probably is of use in avoiding predators. 

A wireworm larva has three pairs of short legs near its head, a pale yellow to reddish brown body, a brown, flattened head, and a scalloped last abdominal segment. When fully grown, this wireworm ranges from 8 to 12 mm in length.

The white, soft-bodied pupa has no protective covering and is approximately the same size and shape as the adult. The larva and pupa live underground.

The wireworm feeds on the roots of many grasses, including corn and many small grain crops. It may also attack the roots, seeds, and tubers of many flower and vegetable crops, especially onions, corn, beans, peas, carrots, potatoes and sweet potatoes (which creates holes in potato and sweet potato roots). They also feed on seedlings.

This wireworm species has a 2-5 year life cycle. In June of the first year, adults deposit eggs singly among the roots of grasses. First instar larvae emerge in July and begin feeding on roots. Larvae continue to develop throughout the summer and overwinter in the ground as second instars during the first year. In late July or August mature larvae construct oval cells 15 to 30 cm deep in the soil and pupate. Adults emerge about 18 days later and feed on pollen before hibernating in protected areas. They become active and deposit eggs the following May or June.  Adults occur on foliage, or logs and stumps. Many are also attracted to lights at night. Wireworms have few natural enemies.

Cluster flies

CORVALLIS – Every fall, large, sluggish flies buzz at windows and knock into lampshades. These irritating insects are probably cluster flies.

Slightly larger than houseflies, cluster flies are dark gray with golden hairs on their thoraxes and behind their heads. They have light patches on their abdomens.

Though extremely annoying, cluster flies do no damage to homes, according to entomologists with the Oregon State University Extension Service. They normally spend most of their lives outdoors and do not commonly spread human diseases.

Adult cluster flies feed on nectar. The larvae, also known as maggots, are internal parasites of earthworms.

Each female cluster fly lays her eggs in the soil. After a few days the eggs hatch into larvae. Each locates an earthworm, penetrates its body and develops there.

As many as four generations of cluster flies develop each summer. In areas where earthworms are abundant, substantial fly populations can build. Problems are especially common around lawns with healthy earthworm populations. Cluster flies can also be a nuisance in buildings surrounded by rich pastureland.

In the fall, the adult flies seek shelter to spend the winter months. They gather near windows in outbuildings and homes, spinning around and buzzing noisily. When swatted, they tend to leave a greasy spot.

As the sun sets and temperatures cool, flies crawl into buildings via cracks and gaps including those around eaves, around sash-cords, windowsills, baseboards and under loose-fitting vinyl or aluminum siding.

Once in a protected place, large numbers of these flies may cluster together – hence their name – to hibernate in interior spaces such as attics, unused rooms, wall voids, basements and tree holes. They become active whenever temperatures rise above 54 degrees, from early autumn to mid-spring, especially around windows with sunlight.

These cluster flies do not breed in buildings. In the spring, they leave their hibernation sites to return outdoors to breed. After mating, female cluster flies lay eggs in soil cracks and crevices near earthworms. In three days, the fly eggs hatch into larvae that penetrate and develop in the bodies of earthworms. Populations vary from year to year, sometimes worse after wet summers.

To see a photo and learn more about these buzzing flies, visit the Oregon State University Extension Service’s Urban Entomology website at

Since earthworms are generally considered beneficial, OSU Extension entomologists are discouraging cluster fly-haters from doing anything to harm their hosts, the earthworms. So there are no good control measures recommended for the cluster fly larval life stage.

The best course of action for cluster fly control is to prevent their entry indoors by sealing around cracks, windows and doors and repairing screens. Don’t forget to seal around electrical outlets, switchboxes and vents, especially on the south side of the buildings, where these flies most commonly enter.

For temporary indoor relief, use a vacuum cleaner to remove dead, dying or sluggish flies. Old-fashioned methods work well also – flypaper, a fly swatter or folded newspaper will dispatch individuals.


Most of the Diptera (so-called true flies) are relatively small, soft-bodied insects. Many of them have great economic importance as transmitters of disease, as bloodsuckers on livestock and as pests of cultivated plants. However, many flies are useful as scavengers. Still others are important predators or parasites of various insect pests.
Flies, in most cases, can he easily distinguished from other insects because they have only one pair of wings -- the front wings. The second pair of wings is reduced to small, knob-like structures called halteres which they use for balance in flight.
In the common names of Diptera, such as house fly, the word fly is written separately from the preceding word, while in other orders the word fly is combined with the preceding word – for example, dragonfly, sawfly or stonefly.
Fly larvae can be found in all sorts of habitats including streams, ponds, soil, plant tissue, decaying plant or animal matter.


1.  Family Tipulidae (crane flies) - Crane flies have extremely long legs and most of them resemble overgrown mosquitoes, However, they do not bite, Crane flies will grow to an inch or more long, They are found chiefly around ponds and streams bordered by high grass. Crane fly larvae live in these aquatic environments The adults are thought to feed on flowers. Two kinds of crane flies have larvae that feed on plant roots, especiallly lawns.

2.  Family Culicidae (mosquitoes) - This family contains a group of well-known insects, the mosquitoes, These notorious blood-sucking creatures can be very dangerous from the standpoint of human welfare because of their ability to transmit several human diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, West Nile virus and encephalitis.  Only the female mosquito sucks blood from humans, wild animals and birds, The male mosquito feeds on nectar and other plant juices.  Mosquito larvae are called wrigglers and live in the stagnant water of ponds, rain barrels and drainage ditches. They feed on algae and other small aquatic plant life. Larvae can be controlled in water by Bti (Bacillus thurengiensis israelensis)

3.  Family Tabanidae (horse and deer flies) - This group contains several vicious blood-sucking flies, Only the females suck blood -- the males feed primarily on pollen and nectar.  Horse flies are generally larger than deer flies and are powerful fliers with a flight range of several miles. The large dark-colored horse flies found in many parts of North America are slightly over an inch long and are often serious pests of cattle.  Deer flies are about 1/2-inch long, brown in color and have dark markings on the wings. These insects are frequently found around lake beaches, streams and ponds, They buzz around people's heads and get into their hair.

4.  Family Asilidae (robber flies) - Robber flies are large insects.  Most have a long tapered abdomen, strong legs and a stout thorax.  The face is hairy and looks like a beard.  They are highly predaceous and often attack insects as large or larger than themselves such as dragonflies, grasshoppers and wasps.  Like the dragonflies, they capture their prey in flight but must land to eat.

5.  Family Syrphidae (syrphid, hover and flower flies) - These flies closely resemble bees and wasps and are often mistaken for them,  However, syrphid flies do not sting. The name flower flies is derived from the fact that these flies are often found hovering around flowers and actually feed on nectar and pollen.  An interesting syrphid fly larva is the rat-tailed maggot, so-called because of a long tail-like extension from the rear of the abdomen. The rat-tailed maggot lies in shallow pools of contaminated water and uses its tail, which is actually a breathing tube to obtain air above the surface of the water.

6.  Family Drosophilidae (fruit flies) - These flies are small, usually not more than 3/16-inch long, They are yellowish-tan in color and are usually found around decaying vegetation and fruit where the female fruit fly lays its eggs. The larvae feed on yeasts growing in the decayed fruit. One species in this group, Drosophila melanogaster, has been used extensively in studies of heredity and genetics because of its short life span and ease of rearing. This vinegar fly is a common pest in the kitchen.

7. Family Tachinidae (tachinid flies) - Members of this family are numerous and are very beneficial because they are all parasites on other insects. Most tachinids parasitize the larvae of Lepidoptera, sawflies or beetles. The female tachinids lay their eggs directly on the body of their host. Upon hatching the tachinid larvae burrow into the host and eat the internal organs. An insect parasitized by tachinids is almost always killed eventually.  Tachinid flies are usually as large or larger than house flies and for the most part appear hairy.

8. Family Calliphoridae (blow flies) - Most blow flies are about the size of a house fly, or a little larger, and many are metallic blue or green. They are commonly referred to as green bottle or blue bottle flies.  Many blow flies are scavengers, the larvae living in carrion, excrement and similar materials. The most common species are those which breed in carrion. These species lay their eggs on bodies of dead animals and the larvae feed on the decaying tissues of the animals. To most people a dead animal seething with maggots is a nauseating thing but it should be remembered that these insects are performing a valuable service to man in helping to remove dead animals from the landscape.

9.  Family Muscidae (house and muscid flies) - This family contains a number of common species that are injurious to both man and animals, The common house fly which spreads typhoid fever, dysentery, cholera, anthrax and other diseases is in this group, Both stable fly and horn fly bite livestock and cause serious weight losses through their bloodsucking habits.  Another fly in this group is the tsetse fly found in Africa whose bite causes sleeping sickness and other diseases in man and animals.  Most of the flies in the family Muscidae breed in filth of all kinds including dung, decayed vegetation or garbage.


There are more than 300 different species of hummingbirds and about a dozen in the United States, most in the southwestern US. Southeastern Arizona has the greatest variety. The Rufous hummingbird ranges north to southern Alaska and is the one we are most likely to see here in Western Oregon.

The iridescence of the feathers is caused by crystalline structures within the feathers and causes the rainbow shifting depending on the angle of view.

Hummingbirds can both hover and fly backward. When hovering the wings beat at about 55 times per second and that goes to 75 times per second when flying forward at full speed. Male hummingbirds are very aggressive and perform aerial jousts with other mails and spectacular acrobatics for the female. They earned the name of "Little Warrior" among some of the Native American tribes. Hummingbirds really enjoy flying through sprinkler mist on a hot summer day and bathe daily.

The birds have extremely high energy requirements and to survive at night or in cooler weather, they enter a state of torpor to conserve energy. They may appear dead to the casual observer, but should not be handled. Their energy comes mostly from nectar, but they also eat small insects. They have a highly extensible, tubular tongue which reaches into the tubular flowers to suck up nectar. They will also feed on sap running from a plant.They may eat 50-60 times a day. If using a feeder, be sure to wash it thoroughly once a week with hot, soapy water, then rinse thoroughly. Molds and bacteria can harm hummingbirds. Do not use honey and water as it molds more rapidly, may contain botulinum and ferments readily, all of which may lead to the death of the hummingbird. The red food coloring is not needed. A red feeder is more attractive to them. If wasps or bees become a problem, use a bee excluder on the feeder. If ants come after it, use petroleum jelly on the hanging wire to discourage them.

The best way to encourage a healthy hummingbird population is to plant a succession of hummingbird plants in your yard.
Bat Facts: Nature’s Insect Control

Bats, which make a lot of people duck and cringe, are actually invaluable insect predators, and given a second look these furry little creatures are actually quite cute. They nurse their young, most rearing only one pup per year. Youngsters can be as curious and playful as many other animal babies.


In these days of environmental awareness and a return to more natural gardening practices, however, they are finally being given their proper recognition as valuable to mankind in the ecological system. Many plants are dependent upon bats for pollination because they bloom at night when many other beneficial insects are inactive. Bats are also responsible for 95% of the reforestation of the tropical rain forests through their dispersal of seeds.


But their immediate appeal to most people is their enormous capacity for consuming insects. A nocturnal animal, the bat eats when the insects are out, in contrast to birds, which eat during the day. Bats eat insects that could damage crops, such as cucumber and June beetles, stink bugs, leafhoppers and corn worm moths. Some bat species consume half their weight in a night -- as many as 600 or more gnat-sized insects an hour!  A single little brown bat, one of the most abundant and widespread bats in North America, can eat 3,000 to 7,000 mosquitoes each night, and a bat can live to be 20 years old. A very effective insecticide, especially when you consider that it doesn't poison other creatures or make holes in the ozone layer!


Bats are generally quite harmless to people. They do not become tangled in your hair, nor do they attack humans and they are far less prone to be rabid than household dogs and cats. The chances of dying from bat-borne diseases are literally one in a million.  In contrast, several children in a million are likely to die each year from encephalitis contracted through a mosquito bite.


They are meticulous in their grooming, spending a fair part of the day and night combing and grooming their fur and they generally segregate by gender.


Next to rodents, bats are the second most common land mammals. As they fly, they navigate by means of a sophisticated echolocation system. The bat sends out signals of sound energy, which are reflected back, giving it the location of an object as well as its texture and other characteristics. They can avoid a single human hair with extreme accuracy, even in total darkness, giving lie to the myth that bats are blind.

Bat House Design and Placement

Bats are feeling the housing crunch as much as people, with their favorite old hollow trees, barns, and old houses disappearing Greatest bat house success has been achieved in areas of diverse habitat, especially where there is a mixture of differing agricultural use and natural vegetation. Bat houses are most likely to succeed in regions where bats are already attempting to live in buildings.


Bat houses have narrow crevices at the bottom for bats to enter and rough surfaces inside for them to hold onto. Inside are several partitions, because bats like narrow spaces, and this allows more surface room for roosting bats. The house is open at the bottom to eliminate the need for cleaning, and to prevent birds from nesting in the house. A bat house should be hung at least 10 to 15 feet above the ground, sheltered from the wind, and unobstructed by obstacles to flying, such as power lines. Bat houses mounted 20' away from trees are inhabited twice as quickly as those in wooded areas. Bats find houses mounted on poles or buildings more than twice as fast as on trees, which are less preferred. To keep the interior very warm, place the house on the side of a building or tree which receives 4 hours of morning sun, although research shows that they are more successful if they have at least 8 hours of sun. The morning sun is most important. Bat houses should face the south or southeast.  If your location is not sunny enough to warm the house to the 100 - 110 degrees F required by nursery colonies, you may want to add tar paper or dark colored shingles to the bat house roof. Do not paint it, as paints and stains are toxic to the bats. However, a cooler location may attract a colony of bachelors, who frequently select cooler roosts.


Bat houses located near a source of water, especially a marsh, lake or stream, are the most likely to attract bats, as this habitat provides the insects needed for their food and most nursery colonies of bats choose roosts within 1/4 mile of water. A year to a year and a half is a common waiting period for bats to move into a new house. Bat houses can be installed at any time of the year, if you hang your bat house in the fall or winter, it may be occupied in the first active season, but in any case should be installed before the bats return in spring. When using bat houses in conjunction with excluding a colony from a building, install the bat houses 2-6 weeks before the actual eviction.  If it is not occupied within two years, change its location. If bats live in your area and your bat house is appropriately located, they will find it. 


During winter months bats living in Canada and the northern two-thirds of the US migrate south or to nearby caves for a period of hibernation, as most bat species cannot survive subfreezing temperatures.


Bats need of protection if they are to survive. They have proven themselves as valuable members of our ecosystem, and we must increase the awareness of people who have the ability to protect or to destroy these little creatures. A bat loose in a house is probably a young one who is lost and looking for a way out. He should not be killed, but gently caught with a towel and allowed to escape without harm. Bat colonies in warm attics can be evacuated safely and encouraged to take up new residence in a bat house of their own.

Bat House Dimensions

Style A-This large house provides for 30 to 50 bats in four chambers. A great house for a nursery colony and a good one to start with, when you want to attract bats to your yard. 24"x9-1/2"x7-1/2".


Style B-This “singles pad” house is preferred by the male bats who like a cooler roost and live in smaller groups or alone. Thus it is a single chamber, making it smaller and cooler than the "condo" above. It holds up to 30 bats. 24"x5"x10".


Style C-This extra-large house will hold 100 or more bats in five chambers. It also has an "attic" to provide greater temperature stability. Bats seek the most comfortable temperature by moving up or down inside the house. 27-1/2"x11"x11".


The big brown bat eats about 2.7 grams of insects/hour. They eat most insects caught flying at night:: beetles, ants, termites, flies, crane flies, moths etc.


To protect its eggs from wandering ants, a lacewing fly first lets a thread drop from its abdomen onto a leaf. This thread hardens into a stalk, on top of which the insect mother deposits a single egg. Often a number of stalks twine together, making a sort of “egg tree,” which keeps the eggs off the surface of the leaf.  

The ichneumon wasp deposits her eggs deep in the flesh of some other live, tasty insect, using her spear-like ovipositor (a special egg-laying organ). When the eggs hatch, the baby wasps (larvae) immediately begin to eat the insides of the host and to use the empty skin of the prey as a house in which to develop.  

Trees and plants develop small bumps resembling the pimples or boils on human skin. These bumps can be caused by bacteria or viruses, molds, mites, or round worms. But a great many are caused by insects — beetles, moths, aphids, thrips, flies, and wasps. These insects plant their eggs in the plant or tree, and the resulting “gall” provides a home, protection, and food for the developing creature within.  

Spiders have six pairs of glands, each of which independently spins silk threads through tiny bumps on the spider's abdomen. These bumps are probably remains of what at one time were legs in spider ancestors. Although all the glands produce silk, the silk from each pair differs.  

Certain solitary wasps build their nests of mud, earth, or even in tunnels bored in wood. They lay their eggs and stock their nests with an insect which has been paralyzed by their sting. The nest is then closed off. When the eggs hatch, the infant larvae feed off the fresh insect food.


Fleas belong to the order Siphonaptera and all known species are obligate parasites in the adult stage, and infest man, other mammals and birds, feeding on blood. Fleas generally live on the exterior of their hosts, running between the hairs or feathers, but a few species remain strongly embedded in one position after attaching, i.e., the so-called stick-tight fleas. The chigoe flea, sometimes called “chigger” or “jigger” actually burrows into the superficial layers of the skin. (Note: This is not a true chigger. True chiggers are trombiculiform mites.  Both sexes feed avidly on blood and some species of fleas will readily engorge on a variety of different kinds of mammals or birds.   Fleas are small, wingless insects which may be important vectors of disease and often are serious pests. Their bodies are strongly flattened laterally, usually dark in color, are heavily sclerotized, and generally possess many stiff bristles. They often have broad, flattened spines in a row forming a so-called comb or ctenidium. The legs of fleas are well developed and the hind-legs are enlarged and modified for jumping. Most fleas are excellent jumpers and some species can leap 50 times their body height or length, or even greater distances. Despite their small size, fleas are anatomically complex. Fleas lay their eggs on or among the hairs or plumage of the host, or on debris on the ground. The active immature stage is a maggot-like, legless larva. The flea larva usually has one or two rows of sparse but well-developed bristles on most of its segments. The larva lives in the lairs or nests of the hosts, and feeds on organic matter such as dried blood or excreta. The larva undergoes three molts in the course of development, and the entire period may be as short as 2 or 3 weeks in the case of medically-important species. In other instances the life cycle may take months. The larva spins a silken cocoon to which are fastened bits of earth and debris, and here the pupal stage develops and transforms into an adult during a period of external quiescence, frequently within a few clays. The adults may live for weeks or months, even without food.   Fleas can be very annoying and their bites may produce extreme itching and dermatitis in sensitive individuals, In heavy infestations, domestic animals may lie killed by the effects of flea bites and the loss of blood. Fleas are also important because of their transmission of disease to man. The oriental rat flea, Xenopsvlla cheopis, found on commensal rats in many parts of the world, is the most important vector of bubonic plague and murine typhus.  Other species of fleas associated with murine hosts may also be vectors of plague to man, but are not considered as important as X. cheopis.  Fleas are considered to be likely vectors of canine filariasis, and serve as the intermediate hosts of tapeworms which may parasitize man.

Yellow Jackets
Jean R. Natter, MG

It's worth knowing that whenever a lone yellow jacket is foraging for insects, its focus is on the job at hand rather than on stinging someone. Beyond that, nasty encounters are unlikely if people don't wer floral prints or uses any fragrances. Most stings from individual yellow jackets result from accidental encounters, or when a person swats at one.

When a group of yellow jackets attacks, it's typically the workers whose focus is to guard the opening to the nest. Here, the guards rush out when they sense abnormal vibrations such as foot steps or a mower. The unfortunate target may be stung many times, in part because individual yellow jackets can sting repeatedly.

Although some people are allergic to the venom, it is good to know that the sensitivity doesn't necessarily cross over to reactions with bee venom.

Nests are of two sorts, either above ground or below. Ground nests are usually in a hole previously occupied by a small animal. It is enlarged as the colony gains more memberrs. Aerial nests may be in a bush or shrub, suspended from the eaves, or in a wall void. A word of warning if the nest is in a wall void. Don't close the opening because yellow jackets are efficient chewers which can make their way through plastr, wall bord, and even exterior plywood. The problem is that you don't know whether they will go outdoors or indoors.

Yellow jackets are beneficial in that they collect other kinds of insects to feed their young. It is comforting to many to know that the colony's inhabitants will die at the end of the year, the old nest is permanently abandoned and disintegrates. Only the mated queens survive the winter in a protected site such as siding or wood piles.

The cycle continues when, come spring, each surviving queen begins a new nest in a new site, lays 25 or so eggs, and raises the first group of workers, usually in June. When these first workers mature, the queen will become an egg-laying machine which never leaves the nest for the rest of her life. If you want to use traps, they are effective only while the colony is young and weak still.

OSU does not suggest killing them unless they pose a hazard to humans. If you must treat, you can hire a professional to remove the nest or use a long-distance aerosol labeled for yellow jackets or treat a ground nest with boiling water at night.

An effective low tech option for protestion against foraging yellow jaackets while you are outdoors is to lure them away by providing a can of kitty tuna or canned chicken at a good distance from your activities.

Baldface hornets are another type of "jacket", but tend to be less aggressive in general. They are black and white mostly.
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