From the monthly archives: "February 2009"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Little fat dirty bug
Sat, Feb 28, 2009 at 1:30 PM
I found this on my front porch. It was skittish, sluggish runner, but not exactly slow. I have seen one other of these, and they cover themselves with dirt, sand, and look moldy & or dirty!
It’s new to me, I don’t even know what category to look under, it’s not a beetle, has no wings, etc. I am very interested in knowing what it is!
Lisa Gerard
Billings, MT

Immature Masked Hunter

Immature Masked Hunter

Hi Lisa,
This is an immature Masked Hunter, Reduvius personatus. It is interesting that you mention the insect being fat because if does look fatter than most specimens we receive, however it is a very close match to one image posted to BugGuide. We are not used to seeing them covered in sand as most specimens sent to us for identification are found indoors and they are covered in lint. According to BugGuide: “Nymphs cover themselves with dust, lint, sand, and other debris – which usually matches the color of their immediate surroundings and makes the nymphs difficult to detect” and “the sticky body surface of the nymph accumulates a coating of dust, lint, sand, etcetera, which masks the presence of the predatory nymph .” Masked Hunters feed on a variety of insects. They are Assassin Bugs and will inflict a painful bite if mishandled, but they are not aggressive. We are happy to inform you that your letter and photo will be featured all month as our Bug of the Month for March 2009.

Immature Masked Hunter

Immature Masked Hunter


What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Argipoe appensas mating activity
Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 12:01 AM
I got this shot of a male Argipoe appensas? after it spent some time on the web of a female. I did not get a shot of the actual mating. I’m not sure it occurred. However, I wonder if the small appendage and organ to the left of his head are sex organs and/or sperm packets?
gregp25
Kapaa, Kauai, Hawaii

Pair of Orbweavers

Orbweavers

Dear gregp25,
Thanks for sending us a photo of a pair of Argiope appensa preparing to mate. The much smaller male will spend considerable time in the web of the female until he has an opportunity to mate. In speaking about a related species, Argiope aurantia, BugGuide mentions the palps on the male spider being reproductive organs. The Biodiversity Explorer website discusses the copulatory organs of spiders thus: “The copulatory organs of the Araneomorpha, or true spiders, have entelegyne features. The male palps are enlarged distally (at the ends) due to a complex copulatory organs or genital bulbs that resemble boxing gloves. Some tiny male spiders have ridiculously large palps relative to their body size. The male and female genital organs are very specific and function on a “lock and key” principle. These organs are used to identify spiders to species level. The female genitalia, the epigyne, is situated ventrally (underside) between the booklung slits on the epigastric furrow. The epigyne is a black, shiny, chitinous, oval to round plate with two openings. “

Male Orbweaver

Orbweaver

Correction: Mon, Mar 2, 2009 at 8:13 AM
Aloha Daniel –
Regarding the post on Sunday:
A pair of Orbweavers from Hawaii
Argipoe appensas mating activity
Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 12:01 AM
The photo from Kaua`i appears to have an adult female and a sub-adult female. Also, the writer is confusing the stabilimentum with something to do with reproduction.
The observations I’ve made of the males on Maui are that they have very little of the same markings on their back as the female. They are also seriously small compared to the females. Most people totally miss the boys hanging out on the other side of the web because of their X shape and the general size of these girls.
Also, regarding the first image – the male would need to be on the other side of the web. It is the best place for them to sip on the meal provided by the female. But who knows what they do when I’m not looking at them? Ha!
The link you have to BugGuide – for the Argiope Aurantia – the male is really large compared to what I have seen here on Maui for the Appensas. Of course, with the way animals can adapt to their environments, Kaua`i appensas and Maui ones could be different!
Right now, due to the wet and seriously windy weather in Ha`iku, our Appensas are hiding in their appropriate safe zones so I can’t send you an image of a pair here. I will make sure you get an image when I can. Also will include an image of egg sacks, which look rather like a wrapped-up used food source.
These images are from lower Kula on Maui – 30 July 2005. I had a house with an outdoor shower and these girls shared bug reducing duties for me.
Mahalo – Thanks – for all the enjoyment your efforts bring to the world.
Eliza B

Argiope appensa

Argiope appensa

Thanks for correcting our error Eliza.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Hard shell purple bug at the coast of Puerto Rico
Thu, Feb 26, 2009 at 7:12 PM
I was staying at a hotel on the east coast of the island of Puerto Rico and went to the shore to look at the ocean at around midday. This thing was purple, had a hard shell, did not move at all, about 5 inches long and 3 inches wide. It was withing the rocks. This was in summer 2006.
Melyssa
East coast of Puerto Rico

Chiton

Chiton

Dear Melyssa,
The creature in your photograph is a Chiton. Chitons are primitive marine molluscs that have shells composed of 8 plates. The shells provide protection against waves which enable Chitons to survive on stormy rocky coasts. Chitons are sometimes called Sea Cradles.

Comment:
Sat, Feb 28, 2009 at 5:58 AM
Hi Daniel, Ah, another mollusk! This is Acanthopleura granulata (Gmelin, 1791), the West Indian fuzzy chiton. The shell plates of this chiton are actually brownish and are usually very eroded. The pink/purple color on this one is due to a layer of encrusting calcareous red algae. For more info see the Wikipedia article (which I put together.) Best wishes to you,
Susan J. Hewitt

Comment Update:
Sun, Mar 1, 2009 at 4:43 AM
I wanted to add:
1. That these chitons do move around, but only at night, grazing on microscopic algae which grows on the rock surface. Each one returns to its same spot on the rock at the end of the night.
2. That the maximum size of this species is about 3 inches in length.
3. There is a really excellent book on the chitons of P.R. called “Los Quitones de Puerto Rico” by Cedar I. Garcia Rios.
Susan Hewitt

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

red/blue flying dealie
Thu, Feb 26, 2009 at 7:56 PM
This bug flew in through an open window and proceeded to land on my shirt where it stayed for quite some time, alowing me to take a good clean picture of it. Never could quite figure out what kind of bug it was though…
Dave
Houston, TX

Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth

Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth

Hi Dave,
The Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth, Cosmosoma myrodora , is a moth species that mimics wasps as a means of survival.  Since the harmless moth resembles a stinging wasp, many predators will give leave it alone.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Giant Fly?
Thu, Feb 26, 2009 at 4:25 AM
I was sitting in my garden on new years day 2009 when this huge flying thing buzzed past my head, did a few loop the loops and settled on the frame of the swing we have in the back garden. I was amazed at the size as i measured it over 2 inches long. I grabbed my camera from inside and took this picture before it flew away at great speed. I have showed it to alot of locals and they have all said they have never seen anything so big before. Is this abnormal or some migrating insect from a far away land?
Mr B
Perth, Western Australia

Robber Fly

Giant Yellow Robber Fly

Dear Mr B,
This is some species of Robber Fly in the Family Asilidae.  Robber Flies are predatory insects, and the larger species are quite capable of capturing bees in flight.  We haven’t had any luck identifying your species on one of our common sources for Australian insects, the Insects of Brisbane Website, but since you are in Perth, your insect might have a range limited to the western portion of the continent.  As we continued our research, we found the Giant Blue Robber Fly, Blepharotes spendidissimus, listed on the same website.  The Giant Blue Robber Fly looks very similar to your specimen.  Continued research revealed the Giant Yellow Robber Fly, Blepharotes coriarius, also on the Insects of Brisbane Website.  Closer inspection of your photograph seems to indicate the telltale golden yellow abdomen beneath the wings, which would confirm that this is probably a Giant Yellow Robber Fly.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

One Proud Spider!
Thu, Feb 26, 2009 at 1:53 AM
Hi guys,
Had my first encounter with one of these yesterday, is that a gun in its pocket or is it just pleased to see me. This family all have concave undersides to their bodies to allow them to wrap around small branches for camouflage. Of a night they build large webs vertically between trees. Common name here is “wrap around spiders”, this one is Dolophones turrigera.
aussietrev
Queensland, Australia

Wrap Around Spider

Wrap Around Spider

Hi Trevor,
This is one of the craziest looking spiders ever.  We are always charmed and amused with your wonderful submissions from down under.  We hope we can locate a link to Dolophonse turrigera to accompany this posting.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination