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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Strange big flying white insect


Unfortunately at this time I do not have a picture of this mystery insect but here is what I do know. Two of my boys have been "attacked" by this thing in our backyard while mowing the lawn. This has just been a recent thing but they start out mowing from the back to the front and about 3-4 strips into mowing and about 1/2 way in the middle of the yard this big white flying insect starts coming after them. The first time it came straight for my sons head and he ran in the house, he is 22 so he doesn't frighten easily with bugs. The second time was last night with my 13 year old and he was around the same location in the yard but this time it came at his leg and actually tried attaching to his leg but he was able to swipe it off his leg but he actually received a cut from it, its probably about 3/8" long. As for the way it looks all they can tell me is that it flies, big and white. I live in Southern Indiana, Floyd County. There are some trees behind our house and some fields. I am not sure if you will be able to give me any information on what it might be or where I can look to see if I can figure it out or not but I thought I would give it a shot. Oh by the way both times it was around 6-8pm when this happened too. I am going to video tape when he finishes the lawn to see if I can spot this thing or not because I have not seen it. Thank you in advance for any assistance you can help me out with, it is appreciated.

Dear Tammy - I'm sorry, but without being able to see an image of some kind, I hesitate even to guess at what your mystery creature(s) might be; as your description simply does not match anything that I am familiar with that might behave in the manner you describe. Aside from bees/wasps defending their nest/home territory and biting flies (horse flies/deer flies) homing in for a meal, I can't think of any insect in your area that would act aggressively towards humans. Often, when we happen to be between where an insect is and where it wants to be, it's actions can be perceived as aggressive. If you can obtain any sort of image, please attach it to a follow-up question.
  BTW, I did much of my field research for my Master's degree in Floyd County (1965-66); I stayed in a trailer park on Corydon Pike in New Albany.


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Ed Saugstad


Will accept most questions in general entomology, including those related to medical entomology, taxonomy, ecology, arthropod surveillance, and pest management. If you are requesting a 'mystery bug' identification, PLEASE either attach an image to your question, or post an image on a web page (such as Flickr) so that I can look at it, as verbal descriptions frequently are insufficient for a definitive identification.


21 years in the U.S. Army as a medical entomologist; duties varied from surveillance of pest populations (including mosquitoes, cockroaches, ticks, and stored products pests) to conducting research on mosquito-virus ecological relationships and mosquito faunal studies. Ten years as a civilian analyst for the Department of Defense, primarily on distribution of vector-borne diseases worldwide. Limited experience on surveillance of agricultural insects in North Dakota and Indiana.

Entomological Society of America, West Virginia Entomological Society, Society for Vector Ecology, National Speleological Society, West Virginia Association for Cave Studies.

American Journal of Public Health, Contributions of the American Entomological Institute, Japanese Journal of Sanitary Zoology, Journal of Economic Entomology, Mosquito News, and Mosquito Systematics.

B.S. in entomology from North Dakota State University in 1963, M.S. in entomology from Purdue University in 1967.

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