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6 Unique California Insects You Had No Idea Existed

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By Molly Paws on August, 16 2017
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After a long day at work, you decide to take your dog for a walk around your neighborhood, your dog comes to a sudden stop. Next, you notice your dog sniffing something on your neighbor’s lawn. You start walking closer to scope it out. Low and behold it’s an unusual creature that you have never seen before. You ask yourself what in the world is that?

California has a vast array of unique and interesting insects that can be found in residential areas. From the Banded Alder Borer Beetle to the Venusta Orchard Spider, these fascinating creatures can add an extra element of surprise when out exploring. The Assassin Bug is known for its predatory behavior, while the Ground Spider will leave you wondering how it camouflages itself so well against its natural environment. Then there’s the Luna Moth with its beautiful wingspan and bright colors... And don't forget about the Repetitive Tachinid Fly which looks like something from another world! So, keep reading to learn more about these unique insects and, next time you’re out on a walk or hike around your neighborhood, keep an eye out to see if you can spot one or two!

California Insects Identified

  1. Banded Alder Borer Beetle The Banded Alder Borer Beetle is a species of Longhorn Beetle that can be found in residential areas throughout California. The beetle has a dark brown body with yellow markings and grows to about 1/2 inch long. It feeds on the sap from trees like alder, birch, maple, and willow. During its larval stage, it bores into the bark of these trees and tunnels through the wood creating galleries for laying eggs. As an adult, it can be seen flying around during daylight hours in search of food or mates. It can also be found in other states including Arizona, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington.
    California Insects
  2. Assassin Bug The Assassin Bug is an impressive insect that can be spotted in residential areas throughout California. It's known for its predatory behavior and feeds on other insects such as caterpillars, aphids, beetles, flies, and even spiders. They are generally found on shrubs, ground cover plants or garden vegetation where they search for their prey. The Assassin Bug has a long body with a curved head and short wings which it uses to fly short distances in order to capture its food. Its sharp mouthparts allow it to pierce through the skin of its victims and inject them with deadly venom before sucking out the insides of their bodies!
    California Insects
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  3. Ground Spider are fast runners and are known to startle humans if you observe too closely. They are an often overlooked resident of residential areas in California. They may have a large, imposing appearance with their long legs and big bodies, but they are gentle and shy creatures that prefer to stay hidden from the human eye. Ground Spiders are nocturnal feeders who mainly prey on small insects such as flies and mosquitoes.
    California Insects
  4. Luna Moth is a species of moth that can be found in residential areas throughout California. They are easily identified by their large wingspan and bright colors, ranging from light green to yellowish-green with red spots on their hindwings. The Luna Moth is primarily found in the eastern United States but has been spotted in forest areas of California as well. These moths feed mainly on nectar from flowers like honeysuckle, jasmine and lilacs. They have an interesting behavior when it comes to feeding - they will often hover around a flower before landing on it and proceeding to sip the nectar using its long proboscis. When mating season arrives, male Luna Moths will emit pheromones into the air which attract female moths who come looking for a mate. 
    California Insects
  5. Repetitive Tachinid Fly is a parasitoid and can be found in residential areas of California. It spends much of its life cycle as an egg, larva, pupa, or adult hidden away from sight. As larvae, these flies feed on the caterpillars of moths, helping to keep their numbers in check and sparing food producing plants. The adult flies are rather nondescript, but they do have the ability to fly so you may notice them flitting about during summer evenings.
    California Insects
  6. Venusta Orchard Spider is a small but beautiful species of spider that can be found in residential areas throughout California. Their bodies measure between 0.25 to 1 inch long and they have bright, colorful markings that range from gray, yellow and green. These spiders primarily feed on small insects such as aphids, flies, moths, and beetles. They can be found in shrubs, trees, or other foliage where they build their webs to trap their prey. Venusta Orchard Spiders are known for being quick runners and often scurry away when disturbed.
    California Insects


California is home to a diverse range of insects, from the predatory Assassin Bug to the gentle Ground Spider. The Luna Moth and Venusta Orchard Spider are also common residential visitors that bring beauty into our gardens with their bright colors and interesting behaviors. Additionally, Repetitive Tachinid Flies play an important role in keeping caterpillars in check, ensuring food producing plants have enough nutrition for humans to consume. Whether you’re looking for some colorful creatures or beneficial predators, California has plenty of amazing insects waiting to be discovered!


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