Subject: Winter Dark Fireflies
Location: Monroe County, Ohio
April 9, 2014 6:56 am
I found several dozen of these on the sides of Chestnut Oak trees on April 6. I think they are winter dark fireflies (Ellychnia corrusca), although I’ve read that it’s more likely a complex of closely related, undescribed species. My question is about the larvae form that is with it. There were equal numbers of adults and larvae on the trees. Is this the same species with both adults and mature larvae at the same time? Are these females that have retained there larval characteristics like Phengodidae glowworms.
Thank you!
Signature: Laura

Winter Firefly and Larva

Winter Firefly and Larva

Hi Laura,
We want to compliment you on your awesome images.  We sharpened them slightly due to the shallow depth of field.  This is the second letter we have received of Winter Fireflies in the past two days.  We did locate an image on BugGuide of a mating pair of Winter Fireflies, so we are confident that your images are NOT of larviform females.  Are they the same species?  We cannot be certain, but finding the larvae and the adults together is a good indication they are the same species.  We have a difficult enough time distinguishing Firefly Larvae from Net-Winged Beetle Larvae, so we would not want to be conclusive, but your photos do bring up the possibility of aggregations of adult and larvae Winter Fireflies coexisting.  BugGuide has an image reported to be the larvae of the Winter Firefly, but they appear redder than your images.
  The image on PBase is a much closer color match to your individual.  The images of the adult and larva taken by Christine Hanrahan were shot in April 2011.  There are questions regarding the two stages posed by Claudia:  “Do they overwinter both as adults and larvae? Or have some of the larvae already pupated and become adults?” but the questions are not answered.  We would strongly suggest that you also submit your images to BugGuide which has a much larger community of individuals who can supply comments.  Your photos might turn out to be an important documentation of the cohabitation of adults and larvae of the Winter Firefly.  Or, as Claudia asks, we might be seeing a group of individuals of the same generation who matured at slightly different times.

Winter Firefly Larva

Winter Firefly Larva

 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: april lightning bug?
Location: southwest virginia
April 8, 2014 9:23 am
This looks like a lightning bug, but it’s a good inch long and the tail looks weird to me, plus it’s early April.
Signature: stephanie lane

Winter Firefly

Winter Firefly

Hi Stephanie,
We opened your letter yesterday, and we got distracted before we could respond.  Then we answered other letters.  This morning there is another request regarding Winter Fireflies,
Ellychnia corrusca, so we thought we would get to you first.  According to this BugGuide posting from Maine in early February several years ago, the Winter Firefly is:  “Commonly seen on snow and tree trunks.”  BugGuide also notes it:  “can be a pest in sap buckets in the spring.”  It is a diurnal species.

San Bernardino Ring Necked Snake found in the Street!!!
Location:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
April 8, 2014 approximately 7 PM
Yesterday, after a long day and stressful day at work, we decided to finish planting tomatoes, but all the junk mail that was in the mailbox caused us to detour to the recycle bin which was already on the street for collection.  We asked the woman who was rooting through the neighbors blue recycle bin to replace all the items she was placing on the curb in her search for the neighbors discarded soda and beer cans.  Our recycle bins are never that attractive to trash scavengers since we never drink soda and we like our beer in bottles which are heavier than cans.  We headed back to the garden and spied a wriggling snake in the street, which we quickly caught.  We were immediately impressed by the brown critters bright orange belly, and the other significant feature was a ring right behind the head.  We quickly put the sweet little guy [gal] in a 12 gallon sauerkraut crock, empty of course, so we could grab the camera and call Julian Donahue for an identification, which is much more fun and interactive than doing the internet research.

San Bernardino Ring Necked Snake in the sauerkraut crock

San Bernardino Ring Necked Snake in the sauerkraut crock

While on the phone with Julian we multitasked on the computer and we independently established the species, Diadophis punctatus, for the Ring Necked Snake, which is found across North America according to the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory.  Julian did mention the subspecies, but we forgot which third name he attached to the species name. We didn’t really have time for writing down what Julian said because we at least knew the species, and since the light was waning, we wanted to try to get some decent photos.

San Bernardino Ring Necked Snake

San Bernardino Ring Necked Snake

We suspect that the tail curling is some type of defensive action, perhaps a distraction to predators that would be attracted to the bright coloration and make a much less lethal strike at the tail, ignoring the more important head region.  After taking a few more photos, we released this colorful guy into the wood pile.  The subspecies which ranges in Los Angeles is the San Bernardino Ring Necked Snake, Diadophis punctatus modestus.  For more information on the seven California subspecies of Ring Necked Snakes, turn to CaliforniaHerps.com.

San Bernardino Ring Necked Snake

San Bernardino Ring Necked Snake

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Potato Beetle?
Location: Austin, TX
April 8, 2014 9:46 pm
Hello,
These bugs have shown up in the last few days. We have had some heavy rains, and today was the first day of sunshine, so this might be why I haven’t noticed them until now. Some are reddish/orange and some are blue. They are the size of ladybugs but do not look like ladybugs. There are at least 300 of these bugs that have attached themselves to the fence in my backyard. We have recently planted our summer garden, full of vegetables and flowers, and I am worried these guys might start to munch, before I have a chance to! Please help!!
Signature: Samantha G

Seven Spotted Lady Beetle Larva

Seven Spotted Lady Beetle Larva

lady beetle (aka Ladybug) larva and pupa

Seven Spotted Lady Beetle Pupa

Seven Spotted Lady Beetle Pupa

So these are not harmful to the garden, more helpful?

Hi Samantha,
Since you wrote back, we decided to spend a bit more time on both the identification and our response, and to create a posting.  With the number of requests we receive, we are only able to post a small fraction of emails and images, but we are able to respond to more with quick replies, like the original and very general answer you got from us.  We don’t immediately recognize all species upon viewing images, but we can give general answers that might only reach a broader taxonomic category.  Our original answer was to the family level, and we could have also supplied you with a quick second response that yes, your Lady Beetles are not harmful in the garden because they eat Aphids and other small plant pests.  Curiosity got the best of us though, and we decided to try to identify your species of Lady Beetle.  The larva is that of a Seven Spotted Lady Beetle,
Coccinella septempunctata, as evidenced by this image on BugGuide.   Sadly, it is not a native species.  According to BugGuide:  “It has been repeatedly introduced in the US from Europe, to control aphids.  This widespread palearctic species was intentionally introduced into N. America several times from 1956 to 1971 for biological control of aphids. All of those attempts apparently failed in getting C. septempunctata established, but in 1973 an established population was found in Bergen Co., New Jersey. This population is thought to have been the result of an accidental introduction rather than a purposeful one (Angalet and Jacques, 1975). Since 1973, this species has spread naturally and been colonized and established in Delaware, Georgia, and Oklahoma. (Gordon 1985) It has since spread throughout N. Amer.”  We are not alone in fearing that native Lady Beetles are being rapidly displaced by other more vigorous introduced Lady Beetles, most notably the Multicolored Asian Lady Beetles, Harmonia axyridis, which have become pests in some areas because they enter homes in great numbers to hibernate.  They are even known to prey upon native Lady Beetles.  Your Seven Spotted Lady Beetle, though introduced, is nowhere near the problem that the Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle represents.  Your pupa is also that of a Seven Spotted Lady Beetle as evidenced by this image on BugGuide.  In your case, they are more beneficial than a problem in the garden.  The concept of introduced species displacing native species is a significant issue as global travel becomes ever easier for people and the critters that travel with them, either purposefully or accidentally.

Thank you,
I appreciate the response!
Samantha

 

Subject: wasp?
Location: Canby, Oregon
April 6, 2014 9:34 pm
This was sitting just outside my door. I live in Canby, OR (just south of Portland) and we’ve had wasps in our yard, but none ever looked like this. It looks similar to certain types of wasps, but this one seems more slender and with longer legs.
Signature: Bill

Crane Fly

Tiger Crane Fly

Hi Bill,
This really is a magnificent Crane Fly.  We quickly located a matching image on BugGuide of a Tiger Crane Fly,
Ctenophora vittata.  Crane Flies are benign creatures that neither sting nor bite.  Many years ago we received an interesting account of the mating activity of Tiger Crane Flies.

Interesting.  Certainly haven’t seen any crane flies that look like that before.
Thank you very much for the info.
Bill

Whilst researching Arctiids that might be found in Alaska, we stumbled upon A Guide to Nabokov’s Butterflies and Moths by Dieter E. Zimmer, our new favorite web site.  Though he was born in tsarist Russia, Vladimir Nabokov, most notoriously famous for penning the novel Lolita, probably had the best command of the English language of any native English speaking writer we can think of, on any side of the pond.  An amateur lepidopterist, Nabokov frequently made references to butterflies and moths in his work, and this site has an awesome catalog of all the members of the order Lepidoptera that appeared in his work.  The lovely Red Admiral Butterfly was playfully called the Red Admirable by Nabokov, and he also notes that in tsarist Russia, it was known as the Butterfly of Doom because large numbers of them were on wing the year Tsar Alexander II was assassinated.  We decided we finally needed a Nabokov category since we mention him so often.

Red Admiral from our archives

Red Admirable from our archives