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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Curious red forest ants with prey
Location: Cherokee County, NC
April 4, 2015 10:51 am
Photo was taken on 1st April 2015
Here are some odd red ants that I’ve never been able to identify. They seem to be about a uniform ~6-7mm in body length. I’ve only found these in rather specific environments; mixed deciduous forest in Western NC/ North GA with plenty of moist rotted logs and tree stumps. Tree stumps in particular with abandoned insect and carpenter ant tunnels seem to be their favorite; they take up residence in the old tunnels and clean them out to their liking. Colonies I’ve seen seem small with maybe a few hundred individuals at most, though to my recollection I’ve never seen a queen amongst the ones I’ve stumbled upon.
They seem to be primarily carnivorous; when I do find them there’s usually several small groups hauling various forest floor insects like crickets and beetle larvae into their tunnels. The ones in the photo here had what might be a newly-molted cricket nymph.
One distinct aspect is that their movement is rather different from other ants I’ve encountered; they seem to more more slowly/methodically, like the way an assassin bug moves. Even when disturbed they’re more slow to scurry about.
Finally, I couldn’t take a photo that included it but there’s a slight but rather distinct berry-red adularescence/schiller effect to the back of their abdomens when they’re in the light. For some reason my camera failed to capture it.
Signature: Jacob H

Unidentified Red Forest Ants

Unidentified Red Forest Ants

Dear Jacob,
We are posting your ant image and labeling it unidentified.  We are also featuring the posting.  We hope to be able to provide you with an identification soon.

Unidentified Red Forest Ant

Unidentified Red Forest Ant

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Caterpiller with a nasty sting
Location: Mindo Ecuador
April 3, 2015 5:09 pm
Bugman, check out this beauty found while cutting some brush in Mindo, Ecuador. It left some of its fine hairs behind on the branch it was knocked off of. The local guy I hired to help me told me to watch out for these falling on your head when battling the thicket: a sting from this will put you in the house all day with a fever and intense pain. I didn’t test his claim for myself but I did manage to get these pictures.
Signature: PDB

Stinging Slug Caterpillar

Puss Moth Caterpillar

Dear PDB,
This really is a beautiful caterpillar, and it is a wonderful choice to celebrate the 20,000th posting on our site, quite a milestone that fills our tiny staff with immense pride.  At first we thought this must be a Stinging Slug Caterpillar in the family Limacodidae because of its resemblance to a Monkey Slug from North America, but our search eventually brought up an image of a Puss Moth Caterpillar
(Oruga de Polilla Gato) in the family Megalopyge on FlickR where it states:  “The’hairs’ are very urticant and touching them produces strong reactions that may include hospitalization”.  Puss Moth Caterpillars from North America are also stinging caterpillars that are commonly called Flannel Moth Caterpillars or Asps.  We then tried searching the Monkey Slug genus Phobetron and found an individual from Suriname posted on Flickr, and after careful consideration, we cannot say for certain in which family your caterpillar should be classified, but we are leaning towards the family Megalopyge.  We then found an excellent image by Andreas Kay matching your caterpillar on FlickR, but alas, it is only identified as a Stinging Flannel Moth Caterpillar in the family Megalopygidae.  The best visual match we located was taken by Shirley Sekarajasingham and posted to FlickR, but again, it is only identified to the family level.  Perhaps one of our readers would like to continue searching for a genus or species match for our 20,000th posting.

Stinging Slug Caterpillar

Oruga de Polilla Gato

 

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Star Trek brain eater
Location: Mississippi River, central Louisiana
March 28, 2015 5:14 pm
Don’t go near the water! Found this thing in the Bayou of central Louisiana at the end of March. My research has turned up some similar creepy crawlies but nothing quite the same. What is it?
Signature: Boatswain

Water Tiger and Mosquito Tumbler

Giant Water Scavenger Beetle Larva and Mosquito Tumbler

Dear Boatswain,
We absolutely love your colorful description of what we originally thought was a Water Tiger, the aquatic larva of a Predaceous Diving Beetle in the family Dytiscidae, but once we searched BugGuide and compared your individual to images of larvae of Giant Water Scavenger Beetles in the family Hydrophilidae, we determined that was the correct identification for your creature.  According to BugGuide contributor Andrew Tluczek:  “I have a masters in Entomology and have worked with aquatic insects. It is a Hydrophilidae. The mandibles have ‘teeth’ which Dytiscidae larvae do not have.”  Your individual has “teeth” on the mandibles, and other research turned up additional physical similarities.
  According to the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee Field Station site:  “WSB [Water Scavenger Beetles] larvae are described as ‘sluggish’ and are found crawling on the pond floor or climbing on underwater vegetation. The larvae is a ‘couch-potato’ version of the sleek PDB [Predaceous Diving Beetle] larvae/ water tigers (pictured) (they sometimes share the ‘water tiger’ moniker). WSB larvae often have paired, gill-like structures protruding from the sides of their abdomens. Their feeding category is ‘engulfer-predator;’ they use their hollow jaws to suck out the juices of their prey. Their food-list includes their brethren; they love mosquito larvae but will go after mini-fish and so are an unwelcome addition to a koi pond. Larvae back their abdomen up to the water’s surface and take in air through spiracles (pores) at its tip. They spend a month underwater as larvae and about 12 days pupating in a cell in moist soil.”  That information thrilled us as we can now safely use the term Water Tiger to describe the larvae of aquatic beetles in both families.  According to Bugwood:  “Larvae, which occur in water, have an elongate body and large dark head with prominent curved jaws. Elongated spiracles through which they acquire oxygen arise from the end of the abdomen. … The immature stage is a predator, working by ambush to lie in wait, seizing and crushing prey that comes within reach. Most of their diet is made up of small insects and other aquatic invertebrates. However, their jaws are quite powerful allowing them to consume snails whole as well as catch large prey such as tadpoles and small fish.”  A Mosquito Tumbler, the pupa of a Mosquito, is visible in two of your images.  We have selected your submission as our Bug of the Month for April 2015.

Water Tiger and Mosquito Tumbler (front and center)

Water Tiger and Mosquito Tumbler (front and center)

Water Tiger

Giant Water Scavenger Beetle Larva

Kathy Haines, Katie Pasulka Casas, Jacob Helton, Carmen Thompson, Ellyn Del Corso Campbell, Alisha Bragg, Andrea Leonard Drummond, Sue Dougherty liked this post
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Migrating Painted Ladies
Location: Elyria Canyon Park, Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
February 14, 2015 10:00 AM
Though we have received many images recently from our readers, we made a decision to select our Bug of the Month for March 2015 from our own images because of the significant seasonal migration of Painted Ladies this year.  According to Julian Donahue, the Painted Ladies are: “particularly active on the wing now, and most appear to be migrating, pausing to nectar on their way farther north.” The Painted Lady,
Vanessa cardui, is a medium sized orange butterfly with a mottled wing pattern and distinctive “eye spots” on the underwings. Painted Ladies were seen taking nectar from the pictured Mule Fat or Baccharis salicifolia, Coastal Bush Sunflower and Manroot. Caterpillars feed on both native and non-native leaves, and the Arroyo Lupine, that is currently blooming, is one native host plant.

Painted Lady

Painted Lady

Painted Lady

Painted Lady

Nadine Gray, Sue Dougherty, Rhiannon Thomas, Alfonso Moreno, Kristi E. Lambert liked this post
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: New Logo
August 5, 2014 10:06 pm
I am a graphic designer trying to build up a portfolio. I’ve been enjoying your site for years; you even once posted a pic of a Luna moth I took. I’d like to offer my services free of charge, to make a new header graphic for your site. If you’d be interested, please let me know!
Sincerely,
Elizabeth
Signature: Elizabeth Goldberg

Bugman Daniel Marlos on What's That Bug? quilt

Bugman Daniel Marlos on What’s That Bug? quilt

Thanks for the offer Elizabeth, but the scrawly What’s That Bug? logo is actually derived from the embroidered name on a quilt made by Daniel, and it has sentimental value.  If we have a chance, we will take an image of that embroidered design to post.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: educational link request
June 19, 2014 5:54 pm
I am a middle school science teacher at St Francis Xavier Prep in Hyannis, Massachusetts, and I stumbled onto your website today while doing some research for a science book that I am putting together for my sixth grade students. The new trend  in schools is to get textbooks on iPads which I dislike intensely, however, I had one thrust upon me along with an Apple laptop which I also dislike intensely but that’s beside the point. The newest iPad version textbook I have used with my sixth graders is terrible. It was dumbed down so much I gave up and decided to write my own for my classroom use only. Although I can’t say I really love arthropods, I do love science and living things. From the browsing that I have done on your site, I think you enjoy what you do, as well. I like to get my students enthused about what they are learning even if it can be icky. Would you be interested in being a link in my classroom book for my students’ questions when we get to the arthropod section
? I have about 50 – 60 students in grade six. They may ask nothing or something depending on how motivated I can get them.
Signature: Jackie Battles

Dear Jackie,
We are flattered with our assessment of our site and we are also intrigued with your request.  We need to come clean and inform you that the most popular posting on our site continues to be What’s That Bug? will not do your child’s homework, but with that said, we would be honored to try to assist your students.  PLease have them include the name of your school, St Francis Xavier Prep, in the subject line if they write to us with a request and the best link is our Ask What’s That Bug? link if they have images.  They can try our Comments and Questions link if they have no images.  We will try to the best of our ability to direct them to the best postings on our site to answer their questions.

Thanks for your reply. I teach about the whole kingdom of life in the sixth grade so I don’t get to animals until late spring, but I download my book for my students in September so they would have access to the links that are included in it. As of right now, I don’t have any schoolwork questions where the children would have to need you  to help them with their homework  so don’t worry about cheating. Hopefully it  would be purely for curiosity and  fun. I do manage to get my students excited about things from bacteria to fungus to arthropods sometimes. If anyone in the building finds a “bug” it usually is trapped and then escorted by an entourage down to my room. (I’m not sure what they think I’m going to do with it, but nonetheless it is given to me.) So as you can see, the kids will find a bug and maybe ask you what it is instead of me and do some browsing on your site and learn something.
If you are nosey – the school website is sfxp.org.
Thanks,
Jackie Battles

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination