Currently viewing the category: "BIRDS"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Cuckoo for caterpillars (Food Chain)
Location: Louisa Co., Virginia, USA
August 17, 2016 10:24 am
I have a 9-year-old honeylocust which this year has the most glorious infestation of some apparently delicious caterpillars. I am an avid birdwatcher and have contented myself with mostly listening for the shy, elusive cuckoos that appear in my yard every year. However, for the past week they have not been able to stay away from this tree and the buffet the caterpillars are providing – as many as 3 cuckoos hanging around gorging themselves just outside my door. I’m not concerned about the tree – just a bit of minor defoliation, and it’s late in the season – but I sure hope that whatever bug this is decides to come back from now on so I can get such fantastic views of yellow-billed cuckoos!
Signature: Winston B

White Flannel Moth Caterpillar

White Flannel Moth Caterpillar

Goodness, Gracious Winston,
This one proved to be a far greater challenge to us than we anticipated.  We recall having identified this distinctive caterpillar species in the past, and we were relatively certain it was a Flannel Moth Caterpillar, so we searched our own archive.  We looked at hundreds of old postings, beginning with Asps and Flannel Moth Caterpillars, but we could not locate it.  We eventually found it on Walter Reeves Venomous (Poisonous) Caterpillars site where it is identified as a White Flannel Moth Caterpillar.  We then returned to our own site, but the most recent posting we had of a White Flannel Moth Caterpillar,
Norape ovina, was 2007, and that predated our site overhaul and recategorization method.  According to BugGuide:  “Caterpillar has stinging spines” but obviously, your Cuckoos are unaffected by the spines or venom.  BugGuide also notes:  “Species name ovina is Latin, meaning ‘of or like sheep'” and we suspect that might be a reference to their group grazing behavior.  We love your Food Chain images.

Cuckoo Eats White Flannel Moth Caterpillars

Cuckoo Eats White Flannel Moth Caterpillars

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: aquatic nymph as prey?
Location: Alexandria, VA
July 30, 2016 5:18 pm
Hi, I observed and photographed a Green Heron capture what I think might be a dragonfly naiad or some other aquatic nymph today at Huntley Meadows in Alexandria, Virginia. I wouldn’t expect a species ID, but do you think this is even an insect? I can’t think of another possibility…. Thanks!
Signature: Seth

Green Heron Eats Water Tiger

Green Heron Eats Water Tiger

Dear Seth,
What marvelous images you have submitted.  This larva appears to be a Water Tiger, the predatory, aquatic larva of a Predaceous Diving Beetle in the genus
Dytiscus.  This posting is a marvelous addition to our Food Chain tag.

Green Heron Eats Water Tiger

Green Heron Eats Water Tiger

Green Heron Eats Water Tiger

Green Heron Eats Water Tiger

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Spider’s Nest??
Location:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
May 7, 2015 11:16 PM
Hello Daniel,
I need your help to identify a scary nest in my garden.  It is dangling from a trailing geranium that hangs from the rear deck.  Perfect ventilation!  At first, I thought it might become a small bird’s nest but it has not evolved for over a week.  I was bitten by a spider three weeks ago, in our bedroom (its was inside of my p j pants!)  As a result, I was on antibiotics and it took over two weeks to heal.
Then a while later, Gerard killed a small spider in the bedroom.  I kept the body and will show it to you when I see you next week.
Anyway, tell me what I am “nurturing” in my geranium!
Have a good night,
Monique

Hummingbird Nest

Hummingbird Nest

Good Morning Monique,
Your confusion is understandable.  Hummingbirds use spider’s webs to construct their tiny nests.  Perhaps this nest was abandoned, or perhaps the young Hummingbirds have already left the nest, or perhaps the eggs have not yet been laid.  Several years ago a Hummingbird built a nest in our large carob overhanging the street causing us to postpone tree trimming, but alas, the nest was abandoned.

Julian Donahue comments
And the BioSCAN person who picked up our Malaise trap samples last week spotted a similar nest on our cup of gold vine (Solandra maxima) overhanging the driveway–first hummingbird nest I’ve seen on our property. Probably an Allen’s Hummingbird, now our more common species.
Did a little checking and learned some new stuff about this bird: nesting season is October – May or June, and a single female may lay four or five clutches of eggs (two eggs per clutch) in a single season, often using the same nest over again. Like most moms, she does all the work.
These factoids and many others at: http://phoebeallens.com/facts.html
Julian

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: What is this Western Bluebird eating?
Location: 40º18’14,10″N, 121º52’22.43″W
December 29, 2014 1:16 pm
Dear Bugpersons,
I photographed a Western Bluebird as it foraged with conspecifics in a huge oak woodland in Northern California at 783 meters elevation. It carried a larvalike thing onto the road surface and proceeded to whack it to death! The attached photo shows the unfortunate prey object pre-whacking. What bug is that?
Many thanks.
Signature: Sylvia

Western Bluebird eats Cutworm

Western Bluebird eats Cutworm

Hi Sylvia,
Thanks for submitting your excellent Food Chain image.  Our good friend lepidopterist always says that insects, including the caterpillars of butterflies and moths, exist to feed birds.  This caterpillar appears to be a Cutworm in the subfamily which you can find represented on BugGuide, possibly a Winter Cutworm.

Subject: Western Bluebird
December 30, 2014 12:34 am
Thank you for your speedy reply! Winter Cutworm looks correct. Here’s an edited photo that shows a little more detail of the caterpillar. Rather disheartening to learn that this introduced species is so widespread, but I doubt that the Bluebirds mind.
Signature: Sylvia

Western Bluebird eats Cutworm

Western Bluebird eats Cutworm

Thanks for the update Sylvia.  The nice thing about some introduced species is that they do provide food for native species.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Need ID of Insect ASAP
Location: Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR, Colorado
July 1, 2014 12:54 pm
Hello! I’m a professional photojournalist. I recently photographed an owl eating an insect I have not been able to identify. I’d greatly appreciate your help in determining the identity of this interesting bug. See the attached image. The location was Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Colorado, and the date was June 21. Thanks in advance for your help!
Signature: Jenny E. Ross

Owl Eats Orthopteran

Owl Eats Ensiferan

Dear Jenny,
Do you know what species of owl this is? We believe the insect is an Orthopteran, and we will search BugGuide to try to determine its identity.
  We have also cropped, enhanced and sharpened an enlargement of just the Orthopteran which resulted in a degradation of image quality, so we would prefer a higher resolution of the closeup as we have cropped it to assist in the identification.  It appears to have the long antennae of the suborder Ensifera.

Camel Cricket in the clutches of a Burrowing Owl

Camel Cricket in the clutches of a Burrowing Owl

Dear Daniel,
The owl is an adult female western burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia hypugaea). I have attached another cropped version of the same photograph per your instructions, as well as several additional cropped photographs of the same insect being held in different positions by the owl. I’m unsure how large you need me to make the image files, so if these aren’t large enough just let me know. (My original raw files are quite large, but – having just returned from my trip – I haven’t post-processed them yet. To save time I made these files for you directly from the unprocessed jpegs I shot simultaneously with the raw files.)
Thanks very much for your help!
Jenny

Camel Cricket and Burrowing Owl

Camel Cricket and Burrowing Owl

Hi again Jenny,
These new images are very helpful.  We thought at first in the original image this might be a Mormon Cricket, but that is not correct.  We believe it is a Camel Cricket, perhaps in the subfamily Ceuthophilinae.  Some likely candidates are New Mexico Camel Cricket,
Styracosceles neomexicanus, which is pictured on BugGuide, or some member of the genus  Ceuthophilus, which is also well represented on BugGuide.  We will try to contact Katydid expert Piotr Naskrecki as well as Eric Eaton to get their input.
P.S.  We got an autoreply that Piotr is in Mozambique through the end of July and we will most likely not be getting a response from him soon.

Burrowing Owl eats Camel Cricket

Burrowing Owl eats Camel Cricket

Hi Daniel,
I really appreciate your efforts on this.
In case you’re not familiar with the size of an adult female burrowing owl to use for scale, this insect was quite large. I believe it was at least 3 inches long. (The apparent size in some of the photographs is a bit deceptive, because the bug was being crushed by the owl.) I will contact the owl experts I’m working with to see if they can narrow down the size estimate based on my photos and their detailed knowledge of burrowing owl proportions. The insect’s body was very robust. Overall, it did not present the much more delicate, leggy, spider-like appearance of a typical camel cricket. Also FYI, this owl and her mate caught several of these insects over a period of a few days (unfortunately, the other captures were too far away to photograph), and all of the bugs were the same large size and very red like this one.
My best,
Jenny

Thanks Jenny,
We are going to await a response from Piotr or Eric Eaton.  We are going to stand by the Camel Cricket as the closest ID for the moment.  We do not believe this is a Shieldback Katydid, which was our first guess.

Hi Daniel,
To help us with the insect ID, last night my scientific colleagues kindly took a moment to get a couple of measurements of two adult female burrowing owls while they were in the field attaching transmitters to them. (The two owls were measured by two different people in separate locations.) The measurements appear to confirm my estimate that the insect was at least 3 inches long:
·         Straight-line distance from the front edge of the cere to the tip on the upper beak:  first owl was 13.59 mm, and second owl was 13 mm
·         The distance between the center of the pupils in the left and right eyes: first owl was 25 mm, and second owl was 27 mm
I hope this is useful information.
Jenny

Update:  August 18, 2014
Hi Daniel,
To help us with the insect ID, last night my scientific colleagues kindly took a moment to get a couple of measurements of two adult female burrowing owls while they were in the field attaching transmitters to them. (The two owls were measured by two different people in separate locations.) The measurements appear to confirm my estimate that the insect was at least 3 inches long:
·         Straight-line distance from the front edge of the cere to the tip on the upper beak:  first owl was 13.59 mm, and second owl was 13 mm
·         The distance between the center of the pupils in the left and right eyes: first owl was 25 mm, and second owl was 27 mm
I hope this is useful information.
Jenny

Piotr Naskrecki confirms Camel Cricket Identification
Hi Daniel,
Piotr and I have just been corresponding about the ID. He indicated that it is likely a subadult male of Daihinia brevipes, the Great Plains Camel Cricket. However, in light of this insect’s very large size and red color, he said, “There is also always a possibility that this is an undescribed species – North American camel crickets are surprisingly poorly known.”
Cheers,
Jenny

 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Butterfly Survivors
Location: Coryell County, Texas
February 18, 2014 4:38 pm
I’m sending photos of what I think are a Variegated Fritillary and an Alfalfa Sulphur, each with damaged wings. I’m also sending a photo of The Usual Suspect.
Signature: Ellen

Sulphur with damaged wings

Sulphur with damaged wings

Hi Ellen,
Just last night we were reading the beginning of a small publication put out by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County called Butterfly Gardening in Southern California.  The first article is entitled Butterflies in Living Color and in it Brian V. Brown writes:  “The intricate patterns [of butterfly wings] have often evolved through their interactions with another group of animals with good color vision, the birds, which are the most relentless natural enemies of butterflies.”
  We also learned a new term.  Holometabola is a term used to classify insects with complete or four part metamorphosis with the stages being egg, larva, pupa and imago.

Mockingbird

Mockingbird

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination