Firebrats and Silverfish

With the extreme heat wave in Eastern Nebraska lately, firebrats are literally coming out of the woodwork. One of the most common comments I get from clients who show up at our office with a mystery specimen is:

“I never have pests, but I found this…”

 Most people have heard of silverfish, but have you heard of firebrats?


The firebrat is a pest commonly found in areas of high heat and humidity. It is a mottled brown-gray color, with long antennae and 3 tail-like appendages. (Photo by Jody Green, Nebraskas Extension in Lancaster County.)

Description of the Pest

Silverfish and firebrats look similar in shape, size (¼ to ½ inch long) and number of appendages. Collectively, they belong to a group of insects called bristletails (Order: Thysanura). They are both wingless, soft-bodied, carrot-shaped insects with two thin antennae on the head and three tail-like appendages extending from their tapered abdomen. The difference between silverfish and firebrats include the stoutness of the bodies and the color of scales. Firebrats appear stouter with a mottled brown-gray color, and silverfish are narrower in the abdomen with powdery, dull, silver scales. As their name implies, they move like a fish.

Continue reading


Happy Wife, Happy Life? UNL Study Findings

Senior Couple at ComputerAccording to a recent study, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) sociologists found older married men with disabilities may do better when their wives become more demanding. Researchers found married men faced with long-term physical limitations feel less lonely if their wives engage in more demanding and critical behavior. If wives were more supportive to their husbands, the study showed it did not matter at all.

“Among current cohorts of older married men, there is an expectation that their wives are going to manage their health, that she’s going to be the one who makes sure he’s going to the doctor, eating correctly, doing his physical therapy,” Warner said. “For men, this ‘nagging,’ in a long-running marriage, is a signal that your spouse is invested in you, in your health, in maintaining your independence.”

Continue reading

Superhero Exploration

Do you remember playing superheroes as a child? I do! I remember my own children making capes and coming up with stories as they “saved their friends and siblings”. I went to the link in this blog and read how Sarah Erdman and Meredith Downing used superheroes to teach life lessons.

“During that sidekick day, we teachers made two new observations about the superhero play. First, the children did not cling to the superheroes they knew from popular culture. Sure, there were plenty of Batmans and Batgirls (and even a Superman who wore a Spider-Man costume); but we also had Super Pig, who carried a Pig Wand that made witches disappear, and Super Dog, who wore a superhero robot costume.” From “Science of Superheros” by Sarah Erdman and Meredith Downing

Here’s to all the parents, grandparents, teachers and caregivers who make our children feel like they are superheroes too!

Have a great day & be superhero cool!

Soni Cochran

Responsive. Innovative. Trusted.
Nebraska Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere –

The Learning Child Blog

CZHWdgtUgAAFkwgMany parents may overlook superheroes teaching their children about life lessons. However, Sarah Erdman and Meredith Downing, prove otherwise with one of their articles. Children can learn a lot from superheroes; it all depends on how you direct the teachings.

One of the first thing that you can incorporate with superheroes is creativity. Children should be encouraged to think on what they would want to be as a superhero, including their powers and their backstory. It improves your child’s creative thinking and helps them learn how to explore options.

Along with developing exploration and creative thinking, it makes children think more in-depth on more than just the how the superheroes save the day, but why do they do what they do? Superheroes do not always get the recognition for their work in helping others, but they continue to do it—and enjoy it. Opening children’s minds to this way of thinking…

View original post 66 more words

Don’t Pinch Me With Those Pincers

The last few weeks brought an influx of a curious insect pest described by some as a cross between an ant-cockroach-beetle with pointy pincers extending from the rear end. The pest in question is none other than the European earwig. and judging from the lack of literature in our Extension files, it hasn’t been a common pest inside houses in Nebraska.

Male European earwig measures 5/8"

European earwig is occasionally found inside homes, not in ears. Photo by Jody Green, Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County.

When I tell people their specimen is an earwig, they immediately touch their ears, and shutter in despair. Earwigs do not crawl into ears, bore into brains and cause death to humans. This was an urban legend or myth. After doing a bit more digging, I found this interesting paper by entomologist, May Berenbaum (2007) about the entomology and etymology of earwigs.

What do earwigs look like?

Earwigs are their own order, Dermaptera, and they are quite unique looking. They are long, flattened, and a dark reddish-brown color with pale legs, wings and antennae. They are often about 5/8” long, which includes their forceps-like, pincer appendages called cerci. Cerci are used in mating rituals, defense against predators and to hunt prey. Earwigs have two pairs of wings but seldom fly. Their hindwings are larger than they appear, membranous, folded and tucked origami-style underneath short, leathery forewings. Immature earwigs resemble smaller versions of the adult, but lack wings.

Continue reading

Your vehicle gets HOT! Leave them at home, not in the car!

Never leave children, the elderly, persons with disabilities or pets in a parked vehicle on hot days! What’s hot? …

Did you know that even on an 80 deg F day, temperatures in a vehicle can raise to unsafe levels in just a couple of minutes. In studies, cracking the windows makes very little difference.

From the National Weather Service:

A vehicle heats up quicker than you might imagine. A dark dashboard or seat can easily reach temperatures in the range of 180 to over 200°F. These objects (e.g., dashboard, steering wheel, child seat) heat the adjacent air adjacent air by conduction and convection and also give off longwave radiation (red in the images below) which is very efficient at warming the air trapped inside a vehicle.

Shown below are time lapse photos of thermometer readings in a car over a period of less than an hour. These photos demonstrate just how quickly a vehicle can become a death trap.

Continue reading

The August 2016 Issue of the NEBLINE is on-line!

The NEBLINE Newsletter

The August issue of the free NEBLINE newsletter is now on-line. Visit and click on the link to the August 2016 NEBLINE!

Here are some of the articles featured in this issue – – – –

  • 4-H Clover College 20th Anniversary
  • Cool Summer Salads – You can make salads in a jar & Two Ingredient Vinaigrette Recipe for Salads
  • Using La Niña to Forecast the Weather
  • Inheriting a Farm, Seminar Aug. 17 (Local program)
  • Don’t Banish the Booster Until Children Are 57″ Tall
  • All Ears for Earwigs
  • Diversity is the Key to Attracting Wildlife
  • Choosing a Birdbath
  • Helping Pollinators: Build a Solitary Bee Nest Using Recycled Materials
  • August Garden Guide
  • Grow Your Own Pest Control: Creating Habitat for Beneficial Insects
  • Lincoln Center Kiwanis Receives the August Heart of 4-H Award
  • 4-H’ers Test Family and Consumer Science, Entrepreneurship Skills at Life Challenge & Animal Science Skills at PASE
  • Emerald Ash Borer Seminars Offered in July and August (Local programs)

If you don’t live in Lancaster County, Nebraska, please make sure to check out your local extension office too. Your extension office has resources for you, your family and community. To find your local office, visit (nationwide listing).

Have a great day!!


Responsive. Innovative. Trusted.
Nebraska Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere –

Brown Recluse Spider

If you follow me on Twitter @JodyBugsMeUNL, you know a client brought me a brown recluse spider last week to confirm its identity. It was found in her garage inside a cooler that didn’t have a secure lid. It was the first live brown recluse that I’ve seen since joining Nebraska Extension in mid-March.

Brown recluse spider on finger

Body of the brown recluse spider was 3/8″ long and its legs were thin and long with no stripes, patterns or spines. Photo by Jody Green, Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County.

Because I am a spider person, I was pretty excited.

Because I respect my coworkers, this spider is now a preserved specimen in the lab. I didn’t release it in the building like I do with most spiders.

Continue reading