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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Small jumping beetles on my dog

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I was bathing my dog and noticed small black bugs all over his belly. There were some on my arms and legs. They have antennae so can't be fleas or ticks, but they jump. I have pictures. My dog is a large mastiff and I was bathing him on the back lawn. I have never noticed these before. I rechecked him about an hour later and was able to catch 2 of these bugs.  We are in California.

Answer
Hi, Jennifer:

You really captured a great image, I can easily tell what it is.  Thanks for including the pictures.

These are "flea beetles," a subgroup of leaf beetles in the family Chrysomelidae.  There are many, many species, and most are "host-specific," meaning they feed on only a small variety of plants.  When disturbed, they jump and/or fly, and that is no doubt how they ended up on your dog.

Flea beetles can do substantial damage to some garden plants and certain crops, but are not a threat to pets or people.  Here's more about them:

http://bugguide.net/node/view/39510

Hope this answer eases your mind.  Have a great summer :-)

Eric

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Eric R. Eaton

Expertise

I answer insect and spider identification questions ONLY. Attach images if possible. No "what bit me?", "what do I feed this bug in captivity?", or science fair project questions please. NO TECHNICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT INSECT PHYSIOLOGY.

Experience

Principal author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. Professional entomologist employed previously at University of Massachusetts, Chase Studio, Inc., and Cincinnati Zoo; contract work for West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Smithsonian Institution, and Portland (Oregon) State University.

Publications
Author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Missouri Conservationist magazine, Ranger Rick, Birds & Blooms, Timeline (journal of the Ohio Historical Society). I have contributed to several books as well.

Education/Credentials
Oregon State University, undergraduate major in entomology, did not receive degree.

Awards and Honors
One of the top 50 experts in all categories for AllExperts.com, 2009.

Past/Present Clients
Principal author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Smithsonian Institution (contract), Cincinnati Zoo (employer), Portland State University (contract), Chase Studio, Inc (employer), Arkansas Museum of Discovery (guest speaker). Currently seeking speaking engagements, leadership roles at nature festivals, workshops, and ecotours.

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