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Common Arthropods of the Elfin Forest


(Spiders, Mites, Scorpions)

Common Scorpion 1.25", sting is painful
Burrowing Scorpion 2.5", ambushes prey from burrow
Sun Spider (Wind scorpion) Hairy nocturnal no stinger
Daddy Long-legs Not true spider, no fangs doesn't bite
Sow Bug Killer Spider No web, kills Sow & Pill Bugs
Western Black Widow Spider Venom is a neurotoxin
Mouse Spider 1/4", dull brown
Orb Web Weaver Spider Web is wheel shaped
Jeweled Araneus Spider Spins loose orb web up to 6'
Trash-web Spider Weaves a composite web
Jumping Spider Can jump some distance
Green Lynx Spider Large body of 3/4", no web
Crab Spider Has no web, crab-like appearance
Spider Mite Spin fine silken carpets under leaves
Velvet Mite Inhabits the soil, large, 1/4", bright red
Pacific Coast Tick Feeds on blood of vertebrates


Multicolored Centipede 3 to 4", bite can be painful


Hiltonius Millipede Prefer moist conditions, 3"


Common Pill Bug Rolls into a tight ball when disturbed
Dooryard Sow Bug Larger than pill bug, can't roll up


Order Colembola Snaps tail-like appendage to move
Leaf Litter Springtail 1/8"
Dung Springtail 1/8"
California Springtail 1/8"
Common Springtail 1/8"

Order Thysanura

Long Tailed Silverfish Covered with shiny, slick scales
Bristletail Nocturnal, abhor light like silverfish

Order Ephemeroptera

Immature forms are aquatic


Order Odonata

Immature forms are aquatic

Pastel Skimmer Dragonfly 1.75"
Big Red Skimmer Dragonfly 2.5", orange-red
Common Green Darner Dragonfly Large, 3.25"
Multicolored Darner Dragonfly 2.5", blue & black
Violet Dancer Damselfly 1 to 2", intense blue

Order Dermaptera

Pincers weak & mostly harmless

European Earwig ● 0.75", females care for young
Ring-legged Earwig ● 0.75", also from Europe
Maritime Earwig

Order Orthoptera

Chaparral Katydid
Pallid Band-wing Grasshopper 1.5"
Clear Winged Grasshopper
Gray Bird Grasshopper Females to 2.5"
Tree Cricket 0.5", live in trees and shrubs
Field Cricket 0.5 to 1.25", black or brown
Jerusalem Cricket Large, 2" with bald head, nocturnal
California Camel Cricket Secretive, hump backed
Sand Roach Found in coastal dunes
Western Wood Roach Found in sage & chaparral
Minor Ground Mantis 1.25", carnivore, run on ground

Order Isoptera

Live in colonies

Western Subterranean Termite Swarms in the fall
Western Drywood Termite No ground contact needed
Pacific Dampwood Termite Likes buried wood

Order Hemiptera

Closterocoris amoenus Nymphs are ant mimics
Lopidea nigridia Feeds on silver dune lupine
Say's Stink Bug Produces a strong acrid smell
Harlequin Bug Eats Brassicacaea species, also stinks
Leafhopper Assassin Bug Preys on insects
Milkweed Assassin Bug Preys on insects
Ringed Assassin Bug Preys on insects
Bordered Plant Bug Can congregate in large numbers
Bee Assassin Preys on ants, bees, and beetles

Order Homoptera

Blue-green Leaf Hopper 1/4", iridescent
Spittlebug Nymphs hide in spit on ceanothus and baccharis
Treehopper Looks like a thorn or ridge on a branch
Aphid Often "raised" by ants

Order Neuroptera

Snakefly Long prothorax and head are snake-like
Green Lacewing Go to light at night, larvae eat aphids
Brown Lacewing Wings covered by micro bristles
Antlion (Doodlebug) Larvae dig pits to trap ants

Order Coleoptera

Thickened hard fore wings

Groundselbush Beetle iridescent larvae and adult
Black Ground Beetle 5/8", long-legged, fast-running
Snail Eater Ground Beetle Prey on slugs, snails
Tiger Beetle Live in moist sand near water, eat insects
Rove Beetle Short wing covers
Tumbling flower beetle Short wing covers and a pointy tail
Blister Beetle Contain cantharidin causing skin blisters
Click Beetle Makes an audible clicking sound
Western Spotted Cucumber Beetle    1/4"
Ladybird Beetle Voracious predator of aphids & scale
Subterranean Dune Beetle
Wooly Ground Beetle Wooly reddish-brown hairs
Darkling Ground Beetle
Iron Clad Beetle Hard body, found under oaks
Scarab Beetle Antennae with a club of leaf-like plates

Order Hymenoptera

California Harvester Ant Large, red, stings, vegetarian
Pyramid ants Small,black with brown jaws
Carpenter Ant Large, black & red, stings
Paper Wasp Makes paper mache-like nest
Live Oak Gall Fly (wasp) Forms galls on Oaks
Spider Wasp Stings, preys on spiders
Sand Wasp Also known as digger wasps
Ichnumen Wasp Solitary wasp
Velvet Ant Stings, female is wingless
Hornet Protective of nest, stings if disturbed
Yellow Jacket Stings, attracted to meat & fruit
Burrowing Bee Nest is constructed in a sand bank
Sweat Bee Solitary bee
Honey Bee Stings, but not easily provoked
Bumble Bee Stings, but not easily provoked

Order Diptera

Common Crane Fly Often mistaken for giant mosquito
Giant Crane Fly Body 1.3", wing span 3"
Mosquito Buzz is high-frequency vibration of wings
March Fly 1/4", poor fliers, scavengers of decay
Wooly Sagebrush Gall midge Makes wooly galls on sagebrush
Horse Fly Female bite painful, breed in aquatic habitat
Robber Fly Hunts other flys
Flower Fly Hover about flowers, destroy aphids
Deer Louse Fly Ectoparasites of deer, sucks blood
Bee Fly Look/act like bees, feed on nectar
Hover Fly
Common House Fly Regurgitation leaves fly specks
Tachinid Fly Have stiff bristles, parasitize cutworms
Green Bottle Fly Infest garbage & fresh dog feces
Sarcophagid Fly Deposit live maggots instead of eggs

 Order Lepidoptera - Butterflies