What the heck kinda bug IS this?

I guess this could’ve gone in GQ, but I wasn’t sure …

There’s this bug in my apartment. I’m in NYC, nine flights up, and I usually don’t get many bugs except for the occasional moth, mosquito or fly. This one has me stymied (and my cats are going nuts staring at it up on the ceiling).

Basically, from my vantage point on the ground, it looks like a thin black nail with wings. I’m guessing it’s a little over 1.5 inches long (ugh), no discernible legs from down here, with two translucent wings that are about half its body size.

Like I said – a nail with wings.

Again, I’m in NYC, so dragonflies – my first thought – are pretty rare (plus, dragonflies have two sets of wings, don’t they?). The body is almost completely straight and stiff-looking.

What IS it???

Before I go after it with a broom I want to know if it’s, like, poisonous or liable to sting me … (shudders). I absolutely HATE killing bugs, btw … actually I almost always catch 'em in a container and set them out on my window sill. But I don’t know how I’d be able to catch this without killing it.

Actually the more I look at it, the more I think it’s been caught in a spider web up there. LOL, I guess there are benefits to being a lousy housekeeper…

Off to GQ.

Cajun Man
for the SDMB

Rats, sorry Cajun Man. This just seemed so vague and of no real interest to anyone but me that I didn’t think it was worth wasting a GQ.

I still wanna know what it was, but FWIW, the bug wasn’t stuck in the web. I ended up using the broom.

(I apologized to it first. Is that pathetic?)

We need more information choie.

Were the wings held out from the body like a dragonfly or butterfly, in a tent over the body like a moth? How sure can you be that there are only two wings from your vantage point and not two closely held pairs? Are the wings long and thin like a dragonfly or more rounded like a butterfly?
There are three obvious suggestions, tell us if any looks likely and we can take it from there.



Ooh, the damsel fly (choice #1) looks very likely (except that the body wasn’t multicolored, and the legs were less prominent)! You know your bugs, dude.

I’d sat I’m 90% sure there were only two wings, which were thin and sheer rather than butterfly-esque or opaque/colored. They were pointing outwards (well, mostly parallel) to the body, not covering the body like moths. The stick-like part of the body extended way to the back beyond what I assume was the body proper, kinda like a long, stiff tail.

Imagine a nail. Just past the nail-head, attach two wings the size of uncooked (long grain) rice, but flat and see-through. That’s the kid.

Are damsel flies (interesting female name, like ladybugs or black widow spiders…) found in cities? I’ve never seen anything like this sucker before.

Anyway, thanks, Blake! Very cool of you to peg a likely suspect so quickly.

Well we can ignore the coloration. Damselflies tend to come in every colour form straw to electric blue and bright orange.
But I’m thinking perhaps what you saw was one of the smaller parasitic wasps.

Could you just clarify. The body was in two sections. There was a main thickish section of the body that theiwngs were attached to, and then well behind the wings there was a long, stiff bristle-like tail.

Much like this (Warning, takes forever to load)

If it did have two wings it would be a good indentifying feature but that would rule out damselfies and wasps. The wings being held away form the body like that is also uncharacteristic of damselflies.
You will get damselflies in cities, blown in on the wind or breeding in fishponds. That makes them rare but they can turn up occasionally.


I’ve been meaning to start a thread asking about a species of insects I keep seeing on my living room floor.

They appear to be a kind of beetle, rather similar in structure to a ladybug. They are around the size of a sesame seed. Their backs have a black and brown sawtooth pattern.

DocCathod – look for my post in this thread. Sounds like a carpet beetle. (Note – the thread discusses the larvae, but the full-grown bugs are mentioned too.)

Blake – thanks again! I’m ruling out the wasp, I think – the back end wasn’t nearly that skinny, and it didn’t have such prominent antennae.

I’ve made a kinda lame graphical depiction of this bug, as it looked from my vantage point on the ground. It’s roughly the same size it was in real life.

After looking at various insect sites, I do think it’s likely to have been a damselfly, (in particular the narrow-winged version). I guess my 90% certainty in the number of wings was unfounded!

Thanks for seeing me through this crisis. :smiley:

Thanks but looking at the picture and description, I don’t think they’re carpet beetles. My pests are smaller and near circular when viewed from above.