Scary-Looking Insect Invades Area, But Don’t Call Them Ticks

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Simbra, Dr. Maria WEB 2015 Dr. Maria Simbra
Dr. Maria Simbra is an Emmy award-winning medical journalist, who...
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CBS Pittsburgh (con't)

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Those plump, round insects seem to be everywhere these days. They’re called billbugs, beetles, and weevils. But don’t call them ticks, because they’re not.

“The deer tick is flat as a pancake, and its legs are all splayed out,” says Allegheny County Health Department entomologist Bill Todaro. “The stage of tick that’s out now is a speck. It’s the size of a period at the end of a printed sentence.”

The billbug’s larvae, or caterpillar stage is what turns certain grasses brown as they feed on the shafts.

“We just had a good year for them, it’s been a wet, a good spring, environmental conditions have been good for them, and we have a bumper crop,” Todaro explains.

But it’s the flying, crawling adults everyone notices.

The adults are gray to brown to almost black with pits on their backs. They become active in the spring when the temperatures go above 60.

“They are attracted to surfaces, to car paint finishes, playgrounds and things, yellow colors, where they think they’re going to find a mate,” says Todaro.

They might be pesky pests as they crawl on your car, your swing set, or even you; but they are harmless.

“They don’t bite, they can’t sting,” Todaro says.

All insects have their life cycle, and in a couple of weeks, these will all be gone.

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