Scaphinotus angusticollis (narrow-collared snail-eating beetle)

Scaphinotus angusticollis    Family: Carabidaea

Common name: narrow-collared snail-eating beetle; 
narrow-collar snail-eating beetle

Food: snails; slugs; earthworms; spiders; insects; berries
Adult size: 1.5 – 2 inches (4-5 cm)

Type: Beneficial

Life cycle phases: 
                  Generation: 1 over a year and a half
                  Egg: laid in May – June
                  Larva: about 1 year
                  Pupa: about 2 months
                  Adult: 4 – 5 months

Description & Life cycle:
Entire beetle is black. Almond-shaped abdomen has an overlaying rosy-purple matte luster. The pronotum is rather heart-shaped and ridged on both sides. Head and prothorax are long and narrow. Underlip is deeply notched. Antennae are long and slender with 5th segment and beyond covered with short hairs. Long legs raise the body up from the ground.

Eggs are laid under debris in May through June. After hatching, larvae actively feed on slug and snail eggs, as well as earthworms and other insects. Larvae overwinter in soil. Pupation occurs when soil warms up in spring. Adults appear in June and are active through into September, largely at night.

Special Notes:
This is a nocturnal beetle native to southern regions of British Columbia to northern portion of California, mostly west of the BC Coast Range mountains and the Cascades but also on the eastern slopes of the foothills. There is a black form found almost exclusively on Vancouver Island. Preferred habitat is moist forest areas, usually under logs and other debris. Feeds on slugs, snails, earthworms, spiders, earth-dwelling insects and berries. Narrow head and prothorax allow this beetle to reach inside the curved shell of a snail to pull it out.

Remedial Action:
None. This beneficial insect is to be encouraged into our gardens.


Posted on August 12, 2020

Harpaphe haydeniana (cyanide millipede)

Harpaphe haydeniana      Family: Xystodesmidae

Common name: cyanide millipede; almond-scented millipede; yellow-spotted millipede

Food: leaf litter; conifer needles

 Adult size: 1.5 – 2 in (4-5 cm) long

Type: Beneficial

Life cycle: 
            Generations per year: 2 – 5
            Egg: > 3 weeks
            Instar: unknown
            Adult: 2 – 3 years


Description & Life Cycle: Adult cyanide millipedes are quite distinct with their black colouring and bright yellow patches along both sides. The body consists of about 20 segments with males having 30 pairs of legs and females having 31 pairs.

Millipedes are oviparous (egg-laying) and mating begins in spring. Cyanide millipede females will lay anywhere from 30 to 300 eggs in a season, typically underneath a rotten tree or log. The young hatch into an immobile dupoid in three weeks or more. The dupoid then molts into a pale-coloured instar stage. Each subsequent instar molt produces another segment which is slightly darker until it reaches maturity and is fully black with its yellow patches on the side. Adults live for 2 to 3 years.


Special Notes: Harpaphe haydeniana is native to the Pacific Northwest from southeast Alaska to California and west as far as the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The adult millipedes play an important part in maintaining the health of the forest ecosystem by breaking down the leaf litter and releasing nutrients for other organisms through their digestive system. The immature millipedes feed on humus.

This millipede has few predators due to its ability to exude hydrogen cyanide through its exoskeleton. This secretion is relatively harmless to humans, although it may cause some skin irritation so be forewarned. If possible, wash affected area immediately with soap and water. A more extreme reaction will occur if any secretion should get into the eyes. Seek medical aid if this occurs. Small-sized pets…cats and dogs…may exhibit stronger reactions to the hydrogen cyanide if it should get into their eyes. Rinse with water immediately, if possible, and seek veterinary aid.


Remedial Actions: This insect is highly beneficial to the health of the forest ecosystem so no remedial action is needed. In fact, they should be respected and left to do the work they are meant to do. Unfortunately, in just one week, we have seen two Harpaphe haydeniana which had been stepped on and killed in our local forest.


Posted on July 15, 2020



Whitefly                           Family: Aleyrodidae

Host plant(s): multiple species

Adult size: varies by species, but generally – 
                        body length: 0.04-0.08 inch (1-2 mm)
                        wingspan: > 0.12 inch (3 mm)

Type: Pest

Life cycle: 
            Generations per year: multiple
            Egg: one week
            Nymph: 4 instar stages
            Pupa: unknown duration
            Adult: about 30 days


Description & Life Cycle: Whiteflies are not true flies. They are more closely related to aphids, mealybugs and scale. This puts them in the order of Hemiptera rather than in the order Diptera with the true flies. The name “whitefly” comes from the white wax covering on the wings and body of the adults.

Females lay 200 to 400 eggs in groups of 30 to 40. Eggs hatch in about a week into flattened nymphs with tiny legs. These crawlers, as they are called, will wander around the plant before settling in one spot and inserting their mouth part into the plant to start feeding on its sap. This crawler stays in one place through the next three instar stages…growing larger and losing its tiny legs as it grows larger. At the end of the 4th instar stage, the nymph enters the pupa stage, although technically it does not go through a true complete metamorphosis. Adults emerge to mate and live about a month.

Some adult whitefly species have distinctive markings on their wings but many have no markings. In the nymph stage, colour can be black with a white fringe, transparent yellow or white depending on species.

Whiteflies typically overwinter on plant debris and in branch crevices…although I could not find any mention in which life cycle stage this occurs.


Special Notes: There are over 1500 species of whitefly, most of which will feed on only one or a few species of plants. All whitefly species are sap-sucking feeders and a few are responsible for transporting viruses from plant to plant. They are difficult to identify in their specific species designation but are easily recognizable by the cloud of white which will erupt when an infested plant is disturbed. Another indication of a whitefly problem is sticky patches on the upper side of leaves caused by the honeydew excretions from whiteflies feeding in the undersides of leaves higher up on the plant. Another clue can be black sooty mold on the upper side of leaves which develops on the honeydew. While this looks unsightly, it rarely does any serious harm to the plant.


Remedial Actions: Whiteflies have many natural enemies in the garden including ladybugs, lacewings, spiders and predator bees as long as you do not use chemical sprays. These sprays are also harmful to beneficial insects.

Another solution is to use yellow sticky traps…although these will catch beneficial insects as well as the pests.

Best remedy of all is to provide appropriate water and nutrients to your plants to guard against pest infestation. Healthy plants are much, much better at thwarting pests from attacking them than those plants which are struggling because they are underfed or underwatered.


Posted on February 26, 2020



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