California features a unique climate that’s preferable to many species of insect life. Of course, not all of these insects are preferable to humans! We’ve created a list for you to enjoy as you learn about the insects that you may share your home and landscape with. Remember, if you’re currently living with insects that don’t belong in your home, you can rely on us for our experienced and effective pest control solutions.
The following are some unique California insects that you may not realize even existed.
As their name suggests, assassin bugs are nothing to trifle with — if you happen to be their preferred prey like aphids, ladybugs or even some types of caterpillars. Assassin bugs inject lethal saliva into the bodies of their prey. Then, they suck out the insides of their victims. It’s not a pretty process! Many people are concerned that assassin bugs like kissing bugs, their relatives, could transmit the serious pathogen that causes Chagas disease in humans. Although assassin bugs can carry Chagas disease, they are unlikely to spread it to humans because of how they feed. And though they’re biologically similar to kissing bugs, which are found in Mexico as well as Central and South America, they’re highly unlikely to bother humans.
A small, winged parasite, strepsiptera are sometimes called twisted wing parasites. These small insects hatch inside their mothers — and then devour them from the inside out. She, on the other hand, is living within a host like a wasp. Consequently, they begin to feed on the host next. If you happen to be strolling through Griffith Park or biking home from the Santa Monica Pier, you could be inadvertently passing these grisly scenes without even knowing it. Male strepsiptera insects have it a little easier. They fly about in search of females who are feeding in hosts. They mate with them at the host site, and then they hightail it out of Dodge. Fortunately, these insects are not a problem for humans.
Tarantula hawks aren’t birds; they’re a type of spider hawk that preys on tarantulas. Their sting is among the most powerful in the insect world. Yes, you may be wondering, these wasps can certainly sting humans, but they seldom do. They are not particularly aggressive where humans are concerned and seem to prefer the tissue tastefully strewn in the tarantula spider’s abdomen.
Tarantula Hawks typically sting the abdomens of their victims before eating the insides of the spider. They avoid eating the victims’ organs to keep them alive for as long as possible. The tarantula hawk can mimic these spiders’ prey in order to attract them. Then, she (it’s typically the lady tarantula hawks that hunt), uses her hooked claws to grasp the spider before she stings it. Yikes!
The cow killer is a type of wasp found in many places, including California, that is said to have a sting that’s powerful and painful enough to kill a cow! Also known as Eastern velvet ants, these insects aren’t ants at all, but they are frequently mistaken for them. Like tarantula hawks, cow killers may sting humans but are unlikely to. Even so, their sting is known to be incredibly painful. Cow killers feed on nectar, but their larvae are parasitic and feed on the larvae of bumble bees. Usually, cow killers are active in the evening or nighttime, which is why humans are unlikely to see them. However, they aren’t difficult to spot with their bright red and black bodies.
Is it a bee or is it a fly? If you spot them in your California garden, you might easily mistake these furry insects that buzz for small bumble bees, but they are actually parasitic flies that ‘mimic’ bees in everything from appearance to certain behaviors. Although bee flies are rather cute with their fuzzy bodies and translucent wings, mother bee flies search for solitary bee nests; while the bee mother is away pollinating the lovely flowers in your garden, the bee fly mother flicks away the bee eggs and replaces them with her own. When the bee fly larvae hatch, they gobble up the pollen meant for the baby bees. As they grow, these ungrateful guests eat the bee grubs.
Broken-backed bugs look, quite simply, like they have a broken back–or a back set on hinges. They feature a lovely shade of pale green with brown-tinged translucent wings. Of course, the backs and wings of the bugs are simply set at an angle and are not broken at all. Humans who grow sunflowers or stroll through sunflower fields are likely to encounter these insects that are attracted to sunflowers. These bugs are regarded as pests, however, because they eat the seeds of flowers or do damage that prevents the seeds from germinating. They also carry certain plant parasites known to cause flower deformations.
California features a myriad of insects. These are just a few creatures you may never have heard of before. Depending on where you live in the state, you may be situated close to other insect rarities that make their home here. Again, many insects that live in California are pests. Not only do they sometimes harm beneficial insects like bumble bees, but they can also pose problems for humans too.
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