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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Black Witch
Location: Cheyenne, Wyoming
August 31, 2015 1:43 pm
6:45 am, Cheyenne,Wyoming. Approximate size inches.
Signature: Wayne Barton

Black Witch

Black Witch

Dear Wayne,
Congratulations on this extreme northern sighting of a male Black Witch, a neotropical species found in Central and South America.  As far back as the late Nineteenth Century, sightings of Black Witch Moths as far north as Canada have been reported.  According to BugGuide:  “The northward June migration out of Mexico coincides with Mexico’s rainy season which typically starts in early June and lasts through October” and “Often flies great distances in only a few nights, hiding by day wherever it can find dense shade – frequently under the eves of houses.”   While sightings in border states including California and Texas, and southern states like Florida are not rare, northern sightings are not as common.  Black Witch Moths are now thought to be breeding in some border states, but harsh winters in the north will most likely prevent naturalization.  We followed a link from BugGuide to the Texas Entomology site where Mike Quinn is keeping records of state, and though there were three Black Witch sightings in 2004, there is nothing recent.  We would suggest that you contact Mike at to report your sighting, though we are going to pass on the information, but should he require additional information, we would not be able to provide anything.  We can’t help but to wonder why Black Witches continue to migrate north though they would not stand much of a chance of passing on genetic material, because even if they were lucky enough to find a mate in Colorado or Canada, the harsh conditions would not favor the survival of the progeny. 

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Subject: Large beetle – central Ontario
Location: Parry Sound, ON
August 31, 2015 3:40 am
Trying to ID this beauty. Spotted in a well-treed residential area adjacent to a forest. Thanks!
Signature: Jason

Odor of Leather Beetle

Odor of Leather Beetle

Dear Jason,
We verified the identity of your Scarab Beetle as a Hermit Beetle or Odor of Leather Beetle,
Osmoderma eremicola, thanks to the images posted on BugGuide where it states the habitat is:  “rotten logs in woodlands and orchards; adults nocturnal, come to lights.”

Cool. It’s so big. Thanks!

It is the time of the month to select a Bug of the Month for September 2015, and because we are intrigued that BugGuide indicates that the Hermit Beetle gets its other common name “for strong odor of ‘Russian Leather,'” it is a worthy subject to feature next month.  The Backyard Arthropod Project notes:  ” The thing is, the way people talk about it, the odor is supposed to be really strong and noticeable, but with this one it is practically nonexistent.”

Andrea Leonard Drummond liked this post
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Ed. Note:  Though it is nowhere near as virulent as other nasty emails we have received, we have decided this posting needs to be tagged with our Nasty Reader Award nonetheless.  Perhaps we are being overly sensitive, but the followup communication from M R just rubbed us the wrong way by implying that our personal (and originally unposted) response was not sufficient.  First, the original email we received did not even include a question, and by all appearances, including the use of abbreviations, this was a hasty submission.  We are a free internet service and we do not have the time to do extensive research on every request we receive.  The image is out of focus, and it is not attractive.  We choose requests with catchy subject lines, attractive images, interesting anecdotes or rare sightings for posting purposes because we find them more interesting, and we believe our readership will also find them more interesting.  We responded to MR the same day the submission was made, and it took MR more than a day to put a species name to the Cicada.  Exact species identifications are frequently time consuming, as MR learned, and we had no clue from the information we received that a species name was even desired.  Granted, our identification was general, but it was correct.  Getting what seems to be a snotty reply that “I figured that a bug id ‘What’s That Bug’ would have at least figured out that it was a Cicada” seemed totally unnecessary and crafted to demean our site.  So, after a hiatus of more than three years, we are finally awarding our Ninth Nasty Reader Award.  We are also linking to BugGuide for information on Neotibicen dorsatus, the Bush Cicada.  

Subject: Bug
Location: TX
August 18, 2015 1:53 am
Don’t know what this bug is called
Signature: M R


Bush Cicada

On Tuesday, August 18, 2015, wrote:

August 20, 10:02 PM
It’s a Cicada ( Tibicen Dorsatus) Took some time but I was able to locate it.
I figured that a bug id “What’s That Bug” would have at least figured out that it was a Cicada.

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Mystery Fishing Spider
Location: North Plainfield, New Jersey
July 23, 2015 7:53 am
This guy has been hanging out on my pool these past few days. It’s clearly some kind of fishing spider but I can’t figure out what species. From the markings, it doesn’t look quite like any of the more common local species. Any guesses?
Signature: LaSalamander

Grass Spider Walks on Water!!!

Grass Spider Walks on Water!!!

Dear LaSalamander,
Though it is walking on water, this is not a Fishing Spider, which explains why its markings look different.  Among Spiders, walking on water is not miraculous and species other than Fishing Spiders, including Wolf Spiders are able to walk on water because the spread of their legs helps to distribute the weight of the body.  The pronounced spinnerets at the tip of the abdomen are a factor in identifying this as a Grass Spider, possibly
 Agelenopsis pennsylvanica, one of the Funnel Weavers, which is pictured on BugGuide.

Grass Spider

Grass Spider

Thanks so much, Daniel! I wish I had something witty or something more meaningful to say, but that’s all I got. I’m happy to be schooled on the subject of Fishing and Not-So-Fishing Spiders. Hurray!

John LaSala, Amelia Gajary, Karin Weidman, Andrea Leonard Drummond, Ann Levitsky, Sue Dougherty liked this post
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination