They look like ticks.  Big, black ticks.  But they don’t bite.  They seem to be all over the place this summer.



Have you seen these guys?  Mary Robb Jackson has:

The Allegheny County Health Department says they have been getting a lot of calls about swarms of unidentified flying objects, some sort of black bug that looks like a tick.


Called billbugs (Sphenophorus parvenus Gyllenhal), these weevils or “snout beetles” eat grass and lay eggs from which larvae emerge.  These larvae are the true pests, destroying lawns (especially bluegrass) as they mature into adults.  They sure do look like big ticks but they don’t harm us:

But Billbugs do not bite people – or carry diseases like ticks do. And unlike ticks – they’ve been swarming around pools – or on car roofs.
“Ticks don’t swarm in huge numbers – you find one at a time maybe two at a time.”
Todaro says, all the recent billbugs swarms are because these members of the beetle family are looking for love in all the wrong places.


Ticks are usually very small — much smaller than the billbug. Sometimes ticks are not easily seen unless the are engorged from prolonged feeding.  And they don’t swarm or fly.

More on the life and times of billbugs from Penn State University here.

The PediaBlog has ticks and Lyme disease covered here.


(Back Pat: Ray O’Toole, M.D.)