Jason Price brought in samples of drugstore beetles infesting a bathroom in a house in Valley Springs, Calaveras County, California. This is unusual, indicating a food source in that area. The problem started, to my knowledge, at least in May of 2020.
It turns out that this house had a bad mouse infestation in the rent past (prior to the new owners), and we are now going to search for rodent bait or a rodent cache in this area, beneath or within the wall there.
22 June 2020.
Ryles Richards brought in samples of an unusual ant he saw at a home in Pine Mountain Lake, Groveland, California. He said the ants were very fast and ran in erratic paths, not following trails. We took photos and sent them to Dr. Philip Ward for ID. Based on these photos, he thinks they might be Formica aerata.
12 June 2020
Kissing bugs, triatoma protracta, are parasites of pack rats, living in their nests, and feeding on their blood, while the rat sleeps. Eggs are laid within the nest, and the kissing bug nymphs will also feed rat blood. Sooner or later, the pack rat will die, by predation most likely, and the dependent kissing bugs will not have anything to eat. Starvation forces them to leave the nest and seek a new host; this activity is most common at dusk, after prolonged hot spells. Being strong fliers, they are attracted to lights, but do not flutter around lights, like moths; they will land and walk the remaining distance. If a kissing bug enters your home, remember, it is there for food, and you are the target.
Kissing bugs appear to be attracted to heat and odor. People report finding them in their beds, basically waiting. It is customary for people that have a lot of kissing bugs, to take the sheets off, and check their beds before going to bed.
The name ‘kissing bug’ comes from reports, back in gold rush days, of people being bitten around the lips. This author has not seen that, and most reports of bites are on other body parts. This author was once bitten by one, on the foot. I never felt the bite, but the bite was prominent, and I’d categorize it as a nasty bite, large and really annoying. I tore the place apart looking for it and never found the bug, until…. it came back to get a second feeding a week or so later.
Below are images of adults and nymphs.
Specimens below collected by Paul Cooper, Jason Price, Heather Nordstrom.
Click on an image to enlarge it.
Kissing bug nymphs
Specimens collected by Paul Cooper.
The ruler markings in the following picture are millimeters. These are small galls.
Although Prionus and Ergates are both large beetles that look very similar, you can tell them apart by examining the spines located behind the head, on the forward part of the thorax.
Prionus has three spines on each side of the pronotum, while Ergates has numerous small spines. Please see the photos.
Female California Prionus beetles. Photo by Alice Anderson
Closeup of spines on prothorax of California Prionus:
Close-up of head of the right side above female: