Cicada Killers, Cicadas and Cow Killer Ants

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the GRO Big Red Blog, please do! Our colleagues at Nebraska Extension in Douglas and Sarpy Counties, and our own Jody Green in Lancaster County, regularly share resources to help you GRO Big!

Cow Killer Ant (Velvet Ant). This is not an "ant" but a wasp!

Cow Killer Ant (Velvet Ant). This is not an “ant” but a wasp!

It’s that time of year when cicadas “sing”, and their predators are on the hunt. Learn more about cicada killer wasp, annual cicadas and cow killer ants:

Cicada Killer Season is Upon Us – Jonathan Larson

Video: Cicada Killer Wasp – Jonathan Larson & Jody Green

Annual Cicadas: The Musicians of Summer – Jonathan Larson

Cow Killer Ant: Wrongfully Accused – Jody Green

If you have other pest and wildlife questions, we have resources on-line at or contact your local extension office.

Have a great day!!


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Nebraska Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere


Happy Thanksgiving From Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County!

“For the golden corn
and the apples on the tree,
For the golden butter
and honey for our tea;
For fruits and nuts and
berries, that grow
beside the way
For birds and bees and
flowers, we give thanks
every day”
–author unknown

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family from all of us here at Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County! Today, we recycled the fall decorations from our office by placing them into the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. It will be fun to watch the wildlife on the live camera as they check out the pumpkins, squash […]

via Happy Thanksgiving! — The Buzz at Cherry Creek

Tiny Bugs with a BIG Bite!

I’m going to take a moment to vent too ….. I happen to be one of the folks who can’t enjoy the outdoors right now around my home because of all of these tiny, black bugs that bite like the dickens! I get welts from them. My colleague Jody Green braved a “probing” just so we could get the great photo below!

If you are one of the folks suffering from the bites of minute pirate bugs (they look like a black dot on your arm – you may not see the markings as you squish it), here’s an article from one of our Nebraska Extension colleagues Jonathan Larson. Bottom line: There’s not much you can do. Cover up. Try a repellent or baby oil on the skin. Wait for a hard freeze…. oh, and they are beneficial, really – they are … read on —- Soni

Minute pirate bug probing Jody Green's arm

Minute pirate bug probing Jody Green’s arm with its piercing-sucking mouthpart at the front of its head. Photo by Dr. Jody Green, Extension Educator Urban Entomology.

Minute Pirate Bugs: Tiny Bugs with a Bite!
Dr. Jonathan L. Larson, Nebraska Extension
September 19, 2016

Arrr! It is national talk like a pirate day today and it’s truly fitting as we are also receiving the first reports of problems with minute pirate bugs. These bugs get their minute moniker because as adults they are only about 1/8 inch long. Adults are oval-shaped, have a black body with an off-white/brown bar across their back and white diamond on their wing tips. As nymphs they are an orange hue and lack wings, they actually resemble their cousin the bed bug a little bit. Worldwide, there are over 500 species of minute pirate bug but we mainly deal with only one species in this area, the insidious flower beetle (Orius insidiosus). Continue reading

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

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


Making Your Cut Flowers Last

Extending the life of fresh cut flowers

Fresh cut or purchased from a florist, you can extend the life of fresh flowers by following a few simple steps.

I plant plenty of flowers and herbs in my garden and landscape. There are some for the bees and some for me. This time of year, I love going out early in the morning and cutting a few flowers to put in a vase. I’ll even clip a sprig of one of my fragrant herbs to include in my little arrangements.

Here are some tips to help keep your cut flowers blooming longer:

Cut garden flowers early in the morning or late in the evening, when they are crisp with water. During the heat of the day, they lose water through transpiration faster than their roots can replace it and may be wilted.

Select flowers that are not yet in full bloom or past it, and cut them with a sharp knife or shears. Avoid tearing or smashing the stems since this can interfere with water uptake.

Carry a container of warm water to the garden and place flowers in it immediately after cutting. Cut flower stems exposed to the air tend to get air bubbles in the passages through which water moves. These bubbles may block the uptake of water. Leave flowers in the warm water for about two hours before arranging them so they can take up as much water as they can hold. If you must keep them a while longer, place them in fresh warm water and set them in the refrigerator. Remove excess foliage and cover them with plastic or paper to slow water loss.

Always use a clean container for cut flower arrangements. Previously used vases may contain bacteria that will quickly multiply and block the water-conducting tubes of the flower stems. Remove foliage below the water line. Foliage decaying in the water hastens the demise of the flowers by contributing to the bacterial buildup.

To learn more about extending the life of cut flowers, visit “Extend the Life of Cut Flowers” from Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County.

Have a great day!!


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

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).