The Lone Coder Reflections for the Unsung Linux Saviours
by Ken O. Burtch
What's that Bug? Common Niagara Critters
If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito.
-- Betty Reese
Nothing related to Linux. I'm tired of not knowing what to
call critters around the house and yard. So I've done some Internet searching and
collected some of the common insects and spiders around my house and
tried to determine what to call them. I placed them here for reference.
What's that bug?
An long insect with what looks like a set of pincers on the back that
likes dark, damp places and runs from light.
An earwig. The shape of the pincers determines the sex. They eat,
amongst other things, silverfish. They are harmless to people.
A grey, fast-moving 1 cm long insect that likes to eat paper and wallpaper
A Silverfish, called that because of they're colour and how they move (like
a fish swimming). A member of the Bristletail group. They like to eat sugar and
starches, including wallpaper and wallpaper glue, paper and book bindings, cloth
and even hair and dandruff.
A fast-moving insect rather like a silverfish or earwig but brown with three
antenna on its tail.
A Firebrat, another type of Bristletail. They cause the same problems
as a silverfish.
A 1 cm long shiny black ant.
A Black Carpenter Ant. Unlike termites, they don't eat wood, but they
tunnel through it, damaging the wood and leaving sawdust.
A flying ant.
Termites. However, during mating season for an ant colony, males and queens
develop wings and fly.
A flat, black bug with bright red markings.
There are two black bugs with red markings: a Box Elder Bug or a
Milkweed Bug. The Box Elder bug likes maple trees (and box elder trees).
During autumn, they gather together to keep warm and try to get into cracks
around houses during the winter. They don't bite or harm household things.
The Milkweed Bug are usually found on or around milkweed or similar plants.
Under flower pots on my porch, grey, flat, oval running bugs about 5 mm
long. I also see
them when I move flower pots when sitting on cement or concrete.
A Woodlouse, also called a sowbug, potato bug or pillbug (if the curl
into a ball when threatened). They feed on dead plant material.
A bright red dot moving on my porch railing.
A Red Spider Mite, a tiny spider that feeds on plants. They are a pest to
farmers. They don't attack people.
A tiny, squishy green bug.
An Aphid. Sometimes called plant lice. There are many species and
most species specialize in eating the sap of a single type of plant. Ladybugs
Spiders (Commonly Seen in House or Garden)
What's that bug?
A tiny black-and-white striped spider that moves in jerky movements along
walls or ceilings. If you creep up on it, it seems to see you and reorient
itself. If really startled, it will jump using a thread like a safety line.
The Zebra Spider, a species of Jumping Spider. It has 360 degree vision
and has the best vision of any spider. They don't bite people.
A hairy black spider 1 to 2 cm with white or orange markings walking with
jerky movements up a wall or a window sill and able to hop or jump. They
can see you when you move around it.
The Bold Jumping Spider. Also called the Daring Jumping Spider or
the White-Spotted Jumping Spider.
If the markings are orange, it's a juvenile. It has good vision. They
avoid people but may bite if disturbed, leaving a red welt.
A flat, grey spider 1 to 2 cm that likes vertical surfaces like windows. It
walks with jerky movements. Sometimes I see them on trees.
This is a Tan Jumping Spider (Platycryptus undatus). Although
called "tan", they may be grey as well as brown. They like to hide in the bark
of trees which is why they are flat and like vertical surfaces. One of the
friendliest spiders, you can coax them onto your hand. Some keep them as pets.
A big brown spider 2 or 3 cm in size with a big abdomen and a large 30 to 60
centimeter web in a neat pattern. It comes out at dusk and often
reweaves its web.
One of a species of Orb Weaver spider. The "orb" refers to the shape
of the web.
The exact species depends on the pattern on its abdomen, such as the Mottled,
Cross, or Spotted Orb Weaver, etc. They eat a lot of insects and avoid
biting people. However, their big webs can be a nuisance.
A big brown Orb Weaver, but with a bloated abdomen and a striking, spotted pattern
on its back. Some of the spots look like they form the shape of a crucifix.
A Cross Orb Weaver spider. It may be a foreign species introduced
from Europe. They usually appear (as adults) in late summer or autumn. It
has similar properties to other Orb Weaver.
A black spider with grey or white markings and prominent spinnerets.
It runs quickly across my floor.
A Grass Spider. They make sheets of non-sticky web in grass and run
very quickly to catch bugs that land on it. They usually stay near their webs
unless they are a male looking for a date.
A grey "Daddy Long Legs" spider.
They are formally called a Cellar Spider.
A small, greyish or dull brown spider with an irregular web in a corner and
seemingly hunched where it sits, with its legs folded in.
The Common House Spider (or, outside of North America, the American
House Spider). They are very common and are related to the Black Widow but are
not a threat: they will run away or feign death and will use a painful bite
only as a last resort. They have poor vision.
A pale brown "stealth" spider with noticeable fangs that rests in corners in
a cocoon made of web during the day and moves at night. If you disturb it, it
drops and seeks cover.
A Yellow Sac Spider. The "sac" is the cocoon they rest in. Unlike most
spiders, these like to bite people and they are the most common source of
spider bites: the bite can cause a painful swelling
or blister takes several weeks to fully heal. Their look and poison is
similar to that of a brown recluse but sac spiders are more aggressive and
their poison is less dangerous.
A long-legged spider with a round, orange body, seen after ground is worked
up on the farm.
A Harvestman. It is an insect, not a spider, and it cannot bite.
A web shaped like a funnel.
A member of the Funnel Weaver family (not to be confused with a
Funnel Web spider). There are many varieties.
A small web that is visible in the morning dew.
A member of the Bowl-and-Doily family. There are over 500 species.
A spider the size of my hand down at the lake.
A Fishing Spider (also called a dock spider). They are the largest spiders
in Ontario. They can walk on water and hunt underwater. They may bite but,
despite their size, their poison is not a threat.
Spiders (Rarely Seen)
I once saw...
What's that bug?
A big spider 2 or 3 cm in size with a big abdomen but with a large web like
a Orb Weaver, but brightly coloured with green and orange.
Likely a variety of Marbled Orb Weaver. Haven't been able to confirm it
but some types are brightly coloured.
A spider scrunched up in my shower. I fished it out and left it on the
patio where, after a few minutes in the sun, it unfolded itself and was
the size (leg-tip to leg-top) of the palm of my hand.
Probably a variety of Wolf Spider. Not as large as a fishing spider
and not all that common.
A smallish spider in my bed with a striking metallic or baby blue abdomen.
A rare Jumping Spider. I haven't found an exact identification but some
species are known for bright coloured scales on their thorax including bright
In an old barn, a large, shiny black spider that looks like it's made out of
plastic. As I walk around it, I spot an orange hourglass design.
Yes, Black Widow Spiders are common but rarely interact with
people: they like damp, dark places like rotting logs but sometimes are seen in
barns or sheds. They don't enter houses. They are active at night.
As the name suggests, these are female: the male are
smaller and harmless. The spider gets its name because, in some species, the
females will (rarely) eat males
during mating. Ontario widows have yellow or orange hourglass designs, not the
traditional red. They (and the imported brown recluse) are the most poisonous
spiders in Ontario. Widows are not aggressive but will bite to protect its
young or if threatened: their painful bite gives healthy adults muscle cramps
for several days, but in the rare case that you're a small child or very old it
can cause breathing problems. In either case, it is advisable to check with a