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Subject: Bugs on privet hedge
Location: Kenya
September 28, 2014 6:27 am
Hi, we have an infestation on our privet hedges and originally thought it was a mould or fungus, however on closer inspection it appears to be an insect, they are less than 1mm long and are killing our hedges, the leaves turn sticky and black and then die and fall off leaving the privet bare – it does however seem to be re-sprouting, have attached some photos – any ideas what this is and how we can control it?
Signature: Thanks so much

Mite or Hemipteran??

Crawler:  Immature Scale Insect

Wow, we are totally stumped on this, though we believe we have narrowed the possibilities to two totally unrelated groups.  First we should state that insects have three pairs of legs and a pair of antennae, and arachnids have four pairs of legs (five pairs if pedipalps are included).  When we first viewed the thumbnails that are attached to emails we receive, it appeared that your creature had three antennae, but upon viewing the larger attachment, we cannot tell if we are looking at antennae or a fourth pair of legs.  The body of these creatures resembles the body on many immature Hemipterans, which are classified as insects, but the first pair of appendages, has us confused.  We cannot tell if the first pair of appendages is a pair of antennae or a pair of legs.  If antennae, then we are relatively certain these are immature Hemipterans, possibly True Bugs in the suborder Heteroptera.  True Bugs have mouths designed to pierce and suck, and many species feed on plants, causing damage that might include leaf loss.  Mites, which are Arachnids and which have four pairs of legs, might also cause damage to plants.  Since you did not indicate any larger individuals, we are speculating that these are Mites as many species are quite small, especially since you indicate they are only about 1 mm in size.  We are going to seek a more professional opinion on your request, and we are also going to feature your submission on our scrolling feature bar.  We thought we might have gotten lucky when we learned there is a Privet Mite, Brevipalpus obovatus, but your individuals look nothing like those pictured on Doctor Optimara or those on the North Carolina University site.

Thanks for the response, I will see if I can get some more photos of them today and send them over.
Kind regards,
Daniel.

Hemipterans or Mites???

Immature Scale Insects known as Crawlers

Eric Eaton provides a category:  Immature Hemipterans
Daniel:
Wow!  These appear to be “crawlers,” the immature stage of some kind of scale insect (Hemiptera:  Sternorrhyncha).  Outstanding pics.  If I get around to doing any more research on these (it is late Sunday night), I’ll pass along my findings.  Knowing the food plant helps a good deal.
Eric

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: So unusual
Location: Central PA
August 30, 2014 11:04 am
I have never seen this before but such unusual color and pattern. Quite lovely.
Taken 8-29-14 in Central, PA not far from a lake in early afternoon.
It was about 3 inches long.
Signature: Abby

Hooded Owlet Caterpillar

Hooded Owlet Moth Caterpillar

Dear Abby,
This is a Hooded Owlet Moth Caterpillar in the genus
Cucullia, and after browsing through the species represented on BugGuide, we believe the closest match is to Cucullia omissa, which according to BugGuide goes by the common names Omitted Cucullia or Alberta Falconer.  This image from BugGuide depicts an individual with coloration that matches the Hooded Owlet Moth Caterpillars in your image, though other examples indicate the coloration of the caterpillar may be variable.  Another strong possibility is the Gray Hooded Owlet, Cucullia florea, and there are several images on BugGuide with a similar color pattern including this one from Maine and this one from New Hampshire.  It might even be a Goldenrod Hooded Owlet, Cucullia asteroides, based on the coloration of this individual from BugGuide.  There are also some individuals pictured on BugGuide that look like your caterpillars that are not identified to the species level.  The genus as a whole is described on BugGuide as:  “Adult: mostly drab gray moths with some fine black streaking; forewing long and narrow; tuft of hairs projecting from thorax forms a large pointed hood over the head, giving adults a streamlined “aerodynamic” appearance (a distinctive feature).  Larva: usually smooth (hairless) and very colorful, with mixed patterns of spots, stripes, and/or patches of mostly yellow, red, green, blue, and black – the range of variation between species is too complex to describe in general terms.”  BugGuide also notes:  “larvae feed on flowers of composite plants (family Asteraceae) and leaves of several trees – varies according to species,” and the individuals in your images appear to be feeding on a plant in the Asteraceae family.  Hooded Owlet Moth Caterpillars are among the most beautiful caterpillars we have represented on our site, and for that reason we have selected your submission as our Bug of the Month for September 2014.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Epic bug battle
Location: Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness, Northeastern Oregon, in a river canyon
August 14, 2014 6:56 pm
Dear bugman,
In late April of 2009, my best friend and I went backpacking in the remote Wenaha-Tucannon wilderness of Northeastern Oregon, along the Wenaha river canyon. It was a spectacular trip made even more spectacular when it ended in near disaster; during a flash flood, my backpack with all of its photographic equipment was swept away and we narrowly escaped the same fate. Remarkably, the backpack was found one month ago by some hikers who pulled out one of the photo memory cards and brought it to the local sheriff, who tracked me down on facebook.
ANYWAYS, during the intervening 5 years, one of our greatest regrets about losing the photos was that we had witnessed an epic struggle between the largest spider I’ve ever seen in Oregon, and an enormous (for Oregon) long, cylindrical fly with a bright orange head that I had never seen before and couldn’t easily identify with online searches. We doubted anyone would ever believe how completely legendary and unbelievable the struggle was as these two titans locked themselves into a dance of death for at least 10 minutes. They did not care that we were there one bit. The battle was too fierce. We were able to get right up next to them with cameras and take photos….. and now we finally have those photos back! Unfortunately, my good camera with a macro lens was permanently lost, so the photos we have are only ‘decent,’ but I think they will work. I’ll be forever grateful if you can help give even more life to this newly revived fabled cha pter of my life by identifying these two mighty contestants.
Thanks so much,
John Felder
P.S. If it helps, I also have a low quality video – no fine details in focus but it give a better sense of the size because of the movement that’s visible.
Signature: John Felder

Wolf Spider eats Giant Salmonfly

Wolf Spider eats Giant Salmonfly

Dear John,
If forced to choose which we are more impressed with, your amazing images or your fantastic story, we are going to have to go with the story, which is why we are featuring this posting on our scrolling feature bar.  The fact that you witnessed this “Epic Bug Battle” and then lost the images and then reclaimed the images after five years is truly an amazing story worth relaying.  The spider is a Wolf Spider in the family Lycosidae, and based on the size and eye arrangement (see BugGuide) we believe it is in the genus
Hogna.  The Carolina Wolf Spider, Hogna carolinensis, is found in Oregon, and you can see images of it on BugGuide which states:  “Considered to be the largest wolf spider in North America.” The Carolina Wolf Spider is also represented on the Spiders.Us site which states:  “This species is uncommon in the Pacific Northwest, but we have included those states in our range listing because it is still possible to find them there.”  We are going to check with spider expert Mandy Howe to get her opinion on the species.  The prey is a Giant Stonefly in the genus Pteronarcys, and it is most likely the California SalmonflyPteronarcys californica.  Here is an image from BugGuide.  One interesting note is that this sighting obviously occurred near the river, which is the correct habitat for the California Salmonfly, however, Spiders.Us indicates of the Carolina Wolf Spider:  “This spider is typically found in arid habitats such as deserts, prairies, glades, and open fields and pastures.”  Thanks again for providing your fascinating story for the entertainment and awe of our readership.  On a final note, we really hope we hear back from Mandy regarding the identity of this Wolf Spider because it may represent and new or little documented species as it was observed in such a remote location.

Wolf Spider eats Giant Salmonfly

Wolf Spider eats Giant Salmonfly

Hi Eric,
This is a truly amazing story with some wonderful images.  I’m not certain how good you are with Spiders, but since you lived in Oregon, I am hoping you can provide some input.  Can you confirm or correct the identity of this Wolf Spider:  Carolina Wolf Spider or other???  I have also contacted Mandy Howe.
thanks
Daniel

Eric Eaton Disagrees
Hi, Daniel:
Definitely “other.”  I’m not even sure there are any recent records of the Carolina Wolf Spider from Oregon.  Hopefully Mandy can put it to genus.
Eric

Ed. Note:  We are guessing that Eric agrees that this is a Wolf Spider, but not that it is a Carolina Wolf Spider.

Wow!  Thanks so much!!!!
I found the salmonfly online shortly after I submitted the photo and then I felt guilty for potentially wasting your time, so I’m glad you liked it!!!
A couple of things that add up based on what you’ve told me:
1) the habitat for Hogna Carolinensis:  the area around the Wenaha river is usually quite arid in terms of ambient humidity throughout the year and probably rainfall as well.  It’s the type of canyon that’s covered in dry brown grasses, rocks, and pine trees in the gulches but not on the exposed ridges.  In spring, the river swells from the melting snowfall of winter in the mountains, but rain is usually fairly sparse. EXCEPT for the week we were there, when it rained almost nonstop, causing the flood conditions and raising the river to probably historic levels.  So I think that if Hogna Carolinensis likes arid conditions, it probably likes the Wenaha area.
2). From what I’ve read, emergence of salmonfly larvae from the water tends to occur when rivers are at peak or rapid flow, which was definitely the case at the time we were there, further confirming the identity of the salmonfly.
I am going to send you a link to the (shoddy) video I have. Quality is poor but you can see their movements as they battle. Very compelling.
The hikers who found my pack were unable to open the rusted body of my metal dSLR to remove the memory card, so we unfortunately only have the lower quality images that my friend took with his plastic lower-megapixel point and shoot. Otherwise, we would have glorious, high definition, macro lens shots and video, but at least we have something.
Thanks again for the help and for featuring the story. You guys are great. I’ll send a link to the video when I get home.
Best,
John

Here it is:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iQSxBXFy6c
Cheers,
John

Thanks for the update John.  We were under the impression that the images you sent were from the card retrieved from the missing camera.  Your most recent email indicates that you were always in the possession of the images.  Do you by chance have a dorsal view looking down on the top of the spider?

No no, your initial impression was correct.  I only just got the images this week after not having them for 5 years.
What I was attempting to convey is that there were two cameras in the missing backpack and the hikers who found it only retrieved the memory card from one of the cameras, which happened to be the poorer quality one.  If they had been able to get the images out of the other camera (they didn’t because it was rusted shut and they couldn’t get the memory card out and didn’t want to carry out the entire camera), we would have been dealing with better quality images.  That’s all.  The story, as it is posted on your website, is completely accurate.
Here are the closest I have to a dorsal view (focus not great):
John

Wolf Spider eats Giant Salmonfly

Wolf Spider eats Giant Salmonfly

Thanks for the clarification.  Bummer:  Too bad they didn’t bust the camera body to get the memory card.  Thanks for providing the dorsal view.  We wanted to be able to show the markings on the carapace.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: They are devouring my figs!
Location: San Diego County, CA
August 5, 2014 12:15 pm
Dear Bugman
My young fig tree was going to have a big crop of figs – until these guys arrived! We live on 3 acres in northern San Diego County, CA, mild weather, etc.
I have spent HOURS looking online, but still haven’t found anything quite like them. I don’t think they are Japanese beetles, but that’s as close as I can come. I believe that they attack fruit that has had a bird peck at it, but once that happens, they are voracious.
Any help would be appreciated. Thanks for your time,
Signature: Kathy

African Painted Bugs eat Figs!!!

African Painted Bugs eat Figs!!!

Hi Kathy,
When we read your subject line and saw the title of your digital image “BIG beetles”
, we thought for certain we were going to be responding that you have Figeaters, which fly in Southern California in August.  These are not big beetles, but rather, small Stink Bugs, African Painted Bugs, Bagrada hilaris, to be more exact.  We first encounted African Painted Bugs in our own garden in 2009 on kale and collard greens, and we learned at the time that this was a new invasive, exotic species that was just discovered in Southern California.  Several months later we predicted that:  “If there are no known predators, the African Painted Bugs might become a very serious agricultural pest in California.”  Most literature we read indicated that the African Painted Bugs prefer members of the cabbage family, including the kale and collard greens in our garden, but in 2010, we received a report from Arizona that African Painted Bugs were found on figs.  In 2011, the African Painted Bugs made the Los Angeles Times.  You should be able to locate significantly more information on the AFrican Painted Bugs now than we found back in 2009, and we still maintain that this is probably the biggest threat to agriculture in Southern California in recent memory.  African Painted Bugs have also been reported on citrus on the island of Cyprus.  We rid our garden of African Painted Bug by ripping out the kale and collard greens, but sadly, that is not an option with your fig tree.  Good luck with this scourge.

Yikes!
Daniel, I fear that you are dead on in your diagnosis!  My “BIG bugs” tag referred to the size of the photo: I had significantly enlarged it.  Now that I have a name I will do more research.  Thank you soooo much!
Gratefully,
Kathy

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination