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|Frequently Asked Questions
Are there Fireflies in the San Diego area?
Are there Fireflies in the San Diego area?
Not the variety that is so visible in parts of Eastern United States. There are about four species in our area, but none fly about with flashing lights. The females of the pink glow worm, our most easily found species, are larvaform. They maintain the immature larval form and are bright pink as adults. At this stage they glow and can be seen on the ground on warm nights in foothill and mountain areas as a continuous, greenish luminescence. The adult males look like "normal" firefly beetles and fly about in search of the glowing females. The males have the ability to glow, but rarely do so.
I think I've been bitten by a Brown Recluse Spider. How do I know?
If you live in San Diego it is highly unlikely that you've been bitten by a Brown Recluse Spider because they do not occur here. Refer to this map (prepared by UC Riverside specialists) that shows where they might occur. For more information on these spiders visit the spider information pages by UC Riverside researchers.
What does the Quino Checkerspot butterfly look like?
The Quino Checkerspot butterfly is very similar in appearance to other species. To get a closer look at their characteristics, see 'Butterflies up close'
How is West Nile virus transmitted? What are the possible symptoms?
A case of West Nile Virus in Los Angeles County was reported on September 6, 2002. The virus can be transmitted by the Culex mosquito, but to date, the virus has not been found and there are no cases in San Diego County.
While digging in my garden, I found an ugly, reddish bug, about two inches long, with a very large head. What is it and will it hurt my plants?
This insect is a Jerusalem cricket. It spends most of its life underground. Its large, almost humanoid head supports the necessary muscles that assist the jaws in digging in the soil and feeding on living and dead plant materials. Like most crickets, this insect also produces sound, called drumming, by hitting its spiny legs against its body.
What are those big green beetles that buzz around all summer?
From early summer through fall, the erratic and clumsy flight of a large green beetle can be seen throughout the county. This insect is called the green fruit beetle or figeater.
I found a big black spider with an hour-glass shape on its abdomen. Will it hurt me?
You have found a western black widow. This spider produces a neurotoxic venom 15 times more virulent than an equal amount of rattlesnake poison. Despite this distinction, only one death every five years in the United States can be attributed to this spider because few people are bitten and little venom is injected with each bite.
When I moved out to the country, I was warned about kissing bugs. What is a kissing bug?
A kiss in not a kiss if it is inflicted instead of offered, which is the case with one local species of assassin bug called the Western Conenose. This 3/4-inch, brown-black nocturnal insect has wings that form a distinctive "X" when folded over the abdomen. It also goes by the name "kissing bug" or, as it is known in Latin America, "vinchuca."
I found a hugealmost 6-inch leg spanhairy brown spider. Is it dangerous?
Despite Hollywood's deadly and aggressive image of the tarantula, the truth is that San Diego County's three resident taratula species are actually quite docile. Although both males and females are capable of inflicting a bite when threatened, they rarely do so and their venom is considered non-toxic to humans.
All the pillbugs I have ever seen in the past were black. Recently, I found some that are cobalt blue. What's happening?
The blue color you noted is due to an infection of the pillbug by an iridovirus; this disease which affects pillbugs in our area is being studied by scientists at the Universities of California at Riverside and Berkeley. The blue color is due to the refraction of light from the infected cells. The virus has been named the "isopod iridescent virus" or IIV.
I noticed a very largeover an inch!black spider with yellow markings that makes huge webs in our yard. Are these spiders dangerous?
You probably have seen the golden garden spider, or Argiope aurantia. The female of this species has a black abdomen with bright yellow bars and often hangs upside down in its large, wheel-shaped web. These webs often extend between shrubs and plants. These spiders are venomous, but the venom is not dangerous to people unless there is an allergic reaction (as with bee stings). They can be very beneficial in your garden, as they help to keep pest insects in check.