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Location: melbourne
May 19, 2011 11:36 am
found this in my freinds back yard have no idea about bugs all we know is it only seams to move with its front 4 legs.
Signature: elias

Longtailed Sawfly

Dear Elias,
This is the larva of a Sawfly, a nonstinging group of insects in the order that contains Bees and Wasps.  We believe it is a Longtailed Sawfly in the Subfamily Pterygophorinae according to the Brisbane Insect website where they are described as:  “Larvae in this subfamily feed on leaves of different native plants. They have six or more pairs of prolegs and a “tail” on the last segment. They do not aggregate in large group. They feed actively in small group during the day.”

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Location: Baghdad, Iraq
May 19, 2011 1:55 am
These large ”wasps” (?) are quite common over here. I found this one dying today so…
I’d like to know the species AND I’m really curious about the apparent parasite infestation it is suffering from. They look like ticks of some sort.
Signature: Phil Monroe

Mammoth Wasp with Phoretic Mites

Dear Phil,
We stumbled a bit on this but eventually we found the identity of your Flower Wasp in the family Scoliidae.  We based that initial search on the robust size and hairy legs of this magnificent creature.  According to BugGuide, the best source for well organized insect identification of North American species, Flower Wasps can be identified by as being: “Robust wasps, medium-sized to large. … Bodies hairy… Usually dark-colored, often with light marks (yellow or white) on abdomen.”  The web search then provided a BioLib link and we immediately landed on a nice composite image of
Megascolia maculata maculata.  The yellow head on your individual indicates she is female.  Elsewhere on BioLib, a page with images of living individuals contains this description “Abdominal apex with red pubescence” and that is supported in your photograph with the scaled ruler.  A Cretan website indicates that it “is the largest European solitary wasp“  and the author writes “It doesn’t seem to be a very rare insect but I had never seen one close-up before.  Females will find, paralyze with their sting and then lay their eggs in larvae of large beetles (such as dung beetle and rhinoceros beetle). Upon hatching the wasp larvae will then feed on the paralyzed grub.”   Here is some information from the not to terribly scientific Wildside Holidays website:  “This is a very large solitary wasp, the female reaching up to 4.5cm whereas the male is a little smaller. This species appears in warm weather during late May, June, July and August. They hold no danger to humans despite their size and black / yellow warning colours. They feed eagerly on flower nectar and this is the best time to view them.The larger female can be told apart by her yellow face and short antennae. The male has a black head and longer antennae. Both have two yellow bands on their abdomens which can sometimes be divided to form 4 spots, which is more evident on the female in these pictures.  You may see several of these wasps flying around decaying tree stumps, they have a purpose here. They are searching for larvae of a particular beetle. Inside the rotten wood may be young of the Rhinoceros beetle (Oryctes nasicornis) [See image below]. The female Mammoth wasp once she has discovered the huge larvae will sting one to paralyze it and then lay her egg on the outer skin. On hatching, the larvae of the Mammoth wasp will eat into its host thereby killing it. The larva of the wasp then creates a cocoon near to the meal remains. It will stay in this cocoon over winter and hatch out once the spring weather warms sufficiently.”  TrekNature also has a nice photo and information.  North American species also paralyze Scarab Beetle Grubs.  What you believe to be parasites are Phoretic Mites.  These Mites do not harm the host insect, but use it for transportation purposes.  Phoretic Mites often attach themselves in great numbers to flying insects who then transport the Mites to new locations and fresh food supplies.  There may be some benefit for the Mammoth Wasp for this to be considered a symbiotic relationship.  Perhaps the mites feed on something at the location where the Beetle Grubs are found that ensures that the wasp larva will not have any competition for food, but that remains to be researched.

Mammoth Wasp with Phoretic Mites

Wow!  That’s a lot of info!  Thanks!
That’s interesting about them flying around stumps.  We have a great deal of date palms here and they fly around the base of those almost exclusively.

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Unknown Australian Caterpillar
Subject: Unknown Australian Caterpillar
Location: Seaford, Victoria, Australia
May 9, 2011 8:56 pm
We found this caterpillar in a tree in our garden, in late summer. It moves really slow and has the strangest extra ”leg” at the end of it’s body which it uses to hold on to things. It’s about an inch long.
Signature: Kyle Horne

Spitfire Grub

Dear Kyle,
Your mistaking this insect for a Caterpillar is quite understandable, but it is actually the larva of a Sawfly, a nonstinging relative of bees and wasps.  We were unable to find an exact color match for your Sawfly larva on the Brisbane Insect website, however it very closely resembles the members of the subfamily Perginae, the Spitfire Sawflies whose larvae are called Spitfire Grubs.

Hey thanks Daniel, that was really quick! I have another bug I’d like to identify and will send through the pics and description tomorrow.
Thanks again
Kyle Horne

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Pepsis colleagues
Location: Joshua Tree, CA
May 1, 2011 2:02 pm
Speaking of tarantula wasps, took this photo in Joshua Tree. What are the smaller pollinators on the same plant? Thanks!
Signature: Tracy

Tarantula Hawk and other Wasps on Milkweed

Dear Tracy,
Thanks for supplying us with another image of a magnificent Tarantula Hawk on Milkweed.

Tarantula Hawk

The other Wasps remind us of Tiphiid Wasps, but we cannot find a match.  When we blow up the image to a detail of the smaller pollinators, it is difficult to make out details.  We have requested assistance from Eric Eaton.

Unknown Wasps

Eric Eaton Responds.
Wow, those are not familiar to me….Maybe something in the Philanthinae subfamily of Crabronidae (i.e. “beewolves,” “weevil wasps,” etc).  No doubt that most, if not all, specimens in the image  are males.
Send a link to the image and I’ll post it to the Entomo-l listserv (they don’t want you to attach images to e-mails broadcast to the group).

Doug Yanega provides a theory
Hoping someone recognizes these.  Thank you in advance for the assistance.
We just did a Bioblitz at JTNP this weekend, and the only wasps similar to those in the photo were Aphilanthops subfrigidus (see BugGuide). When were those pictures taken?
Doug Yanega
Dept. of Entomology
Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California, Riverside, CA

Hi again Tracy.  When was this photo taken?

Hi Daniel.  It’s an old photo… I’d say circa 2000.  Yikes, that’s dated — I hope that doesn’t pose a problem.  I pulled it up when I saw the recent tarantula wasp posting.  Love your site.  It was spring.  I remember the Ocotillo blooming.  Am guessing March, as June is too hot and Jan/Feb nights there can be really cold.

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Flying Bug on Yarrow
Location: Austin, TX
April 30, 2011 6:59 pm
This bug was found at the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, TX – I believe the flower that it’s visiting is called yarrow. Taken on April 26, 2011.
Signature: Jennifer H

Tarantula Hawk

Hi Jennifer,
Ladybird is our favorite first lady because of her campaign to beautify America by planting trees and shrubs.  This magnificent Spider Wasp is a Tarantula Hawk, a member of several genera that hunt Tarantulas to feed to their young.  The female Tarantula locates a Tarantula and stings it which paralyzes the Tarantula, but does not kill it.  The female Tarantula Hawk then buries the spider after laying an egg.  The larva of the wasp then feeds on the living but paralyzed Tarantula which ensures the meat is fresh.  The vital organs are eaten last.  The sting of a Tarantula Hawk is reported to be quite painful.  Only the female stings.  These large distinctive wasps, generally with black bodies and red wings, are frequently seen taking nectar from flowers including milkweed.  You can find more information about Tarantula Hawks on BugGuide.

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What’s this?
Location: Fanling, Hong Kong
April 17, 2011 1:22 am
Hello, I am on a trip to Hong Kong and yesterday spotted several large flying things, black in colour with a red head and red/black abdomen. They were hanging around in groups of 4 or more, and circling in flight in pairs – any idea what they are?!
Thank you
- Roo
Signature: Roowilliams

Digger Wasp

Dear Roo,
We didn’t think getting an identification on this distinctive looking Red Headed Bee would be difficult, but that identification is proving to be quite elusive.  Perhaps one of our readers will supply an identification.

Hi Daniel,
Thanks for your quick reply! I forgot to mention that these things are huge, around 5cm in length! I have more pictures but am still on my trip in HK and using a small netbook which is frustrating to do any photo editing on, so I will submit when I return to the UK.
Best wishes

Update:  Digger Wasp not Bee
April 19, 2011
We just received a comment identifying this as a Digger Wasp,
Megascolia azurea.  The Siam Insect Zoo website has some photos that seem to corroborate this identification.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination