Gorgeous Mystery Caterpillar
Mon, Jan 12, 2009 at 8:49 AM
Greetings,
I found three of these little guys, first they were with blue patterns with black and when i took the pic they were green, i havent seen these guys before or anything like them, they also have a funny little tail, they seem very timid and slow, could you please let me know what they are exactly, and what are their needs?
Siraaj Aziz
Durban, South Africa

Death's Head Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Death

Hi Siraaj,
At first we were going to write back and just say that you found a species of Hawkmoth Caterpillar in the family Sphingidae, commonly called Hornworms because of the caudal horn.  When we googled Sphingidae Africa, we quickly found an image of a Death’s Head Hawkmoth Caterpillar, Acherontia atropos, on a Biodiversity of South Africa website and we feel pretty confident that is your species.  The adult moth is pictured on the movie poster of the Academy Award winning Silence of the Lambs and played a role in the narrative of that film.  Regarding the d
erivation of name , according to the Biodiversity website:  “The Death’s head hawk moth is so called because of the skull-like pattern on the thorax . As far as the latin name is concerned, according to Pinhey (1975) : ‘Atropos, one of the Fates, was a daughter of Nox and Erebus and was illustrated… with veiled face and a pair of scissors to cut the thread of life. This is the thoracic pattern of a mask with scissors below it. A sinister but undeserved portrait.'”  Excellent information and more photos can be found on the Sphingidae of the Western Palaearctic website.  The downward curve of the horn is distinctive in the mature caterpillar and is evident in one of your photographs.  By needs, we are presuming you want to raise the caterpillar to maturity.  Your photo of the yellow caterpillar indicates it is mature, or fifth instar and that it will soon pupate.  You should continue to feed the Death’s Head Hawkmoth Caterpillar with leaves of the plant on which it was found, and provide it with several inches of loose soil, not too moist and not too dry.  The caterpillar will dig into the dirt to pupate.  When its metamorphosis is nearly complete, the pupa will wriggle to the surface, the skin will split, and an adult moth or imago will emerge.  We would love it if you are able to provide us with images of the adult Death’s Head Hawkmoth.

Death's Head Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Death

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

White worm w/ odd head
Sat, Jan 10, 2009 at 8:50 AM
White worm w/ odd head
Hi. Two of these worms have come off the firewood in the last couple days, here in PA. Just wondering what they are. The picture should provide a lot of info.
Thanks!!
Diane B.
SE Pennsylvania

Flat Headed Borer Grub

Flat Headed Borer Grub

Hi Diane,
This is a Flat Headed Borer Grub in the family Buprestidae, known as the Metallic Wood Borers or Jewel Beetles.  You can match your photo to one we located on a Forestry Images website or to the images on BugGuide. Many of the adult beetles are quite gorgeous and are sometimes made into jewelry in tropical counties.  Sadly, we are not skilled enough to tell you the exact species.  Flat Headed Borers often live many years as grubs feeding on wood.  We have heard reports of the Golden Buprestid, Buprestis aurulenta, emerging from furniture 50 years after it was built.  You can confirm this online in numerous places including a Canadian Forestry site.  We have received our own report of an adult Golden Buprestid emerging from an 8 year old pine cutting board.  If your firewood is local, you have a different species of Flat Headed Borer as the Golden Buprestid is native to the Pacific Northwest.

Unknown insect eggs(?)
Sat, Jan 10, 2009 at 11:24 AM
Unknown insect eggs(?)
I found these on a plant in my backyard in Southern California. The plant is low and spindly and sits about two feet from a fountain that is always running. When I first took the pictures I didn’t notice the spider in the background. Yesterday, the two spiders were “face to face”. Now I notice that the one ate the other. Are they spider eggs? Did she eat him, like a black widow? What struck me about whatever these things are are their uniformity, abundance and metallic looking details.
SoCal Soundguy
Monrovia, CA

Barnacle Scales

Barnacle Scales

Dear SoCal Soundguy,
These are Wax Scale Insects known as Barnacle Scales, Ceroplastes cirripediformis. You can confirm the ID on BugGuide
which indicates that it is a pest on quince and citrus in Florida. It is also reported from California. Images on BugGuide include specimens found on pomegranate, camellia and sage. We located a PDF online that pictures another similar looking species, Ceroplastes ceriferus, listed as the Indian Wax Scale. Soft Scale insects are plant sucking insects that can do major damage to plants if they get too plentiful. We wish you were able to provide us with the host plant name. It looks like it might be lantana, but we are not certain.

Barnacle Scales

Barnacle Scales

Follow up: Wax Pests
Sun, Jan 11, 2009 at 2:53 PM
Daniel,
Thanks for your prompt, informative reply. You were interested in the
plant the finding came from. Not only did I send you a picture of the
plant but I did you one better: I included a picture of the plant tag
that the horticulture garden I bought it from (Huntington Gardens)
identified it with. The plant is Salvia Ulignosa.
I didn’t realize how many of these things were on the plant until I
pulled them off (they came off easily) or clipped high denisty clusters
like the branch shown. Then I burned them with a blow torch. I figured
that was the most definitive way to destroy them, lest they survive a
trip to a landfill and cause someone else a headache. …
Chuck
SoCal Soundguy
P.S. I have so tell you how satisfying it is to write your site. Answers are typically prompt, but always knowlegable and succinct. Thank you!

Barnacle Scales

Barnacle Scales

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Big Stick Insect
Sat, Jan 10, 2009 at 6:21 AM
Hey there.
More than 30cm long, including legs. For sure one of the longest insects in the world.
When it saw me, it starting to move in my direction, leaving the handrail, and trying to grab my lens!
Found during the morning, on the handrail of the plank walk.
Joana Garrido
Niah National Park, Sarawak, Borneo

Walkingstick

Walkingstick

Hi Joana,
Thank you for sending us your spectacular images. This Walkingstick is so delicate looking. While it may be one of the longest insects in the world, it definitely falls into the rail-thin fashion model category. That headshot is priceless. We will try to get a species identification.

Walkingstick

Walkingstick

Update: Mon, Jan 12, 2009 at 4:42 PM
Daniel:
What an amazing creature! I can’t be certain about this one (I think I will continue looking) but it looks like it is probably in the genus Phobaeticus, possibly P. kirbyi. The genus has the distinction of having the two longest insects in the world (the record holder is P. chani, also from Borneo). According to Wikipedia, the holotype for P. kirbyi “…measures 328 millimetres (12.9 in) excluding legs and 546 millimetres (21.5 in) including legs. This makes it the second longest known insect in terms of body length, behind Phobaeticus chani with 357 millimetres (14.1 in).” The specimen in the photo looks like it is probably a male, which are typically smaller and less robust than the females. The following link connects to the best image I was able to find, showing a mating pair (it’s a little hard to figure out the tangle). Regards.
Karl
Link: http://phasmatodea.com/index. php?module=xd_gallery&func= image&xdpage=&xgi=1433&xgc=356

What is this moth? Is it a hawk moth?
Sat, Jan 10, 2009 at 10:01 AM
Found these moths on a poinsettia here in Katy (Houston) Texas, January 2, 2009. They may have arrived with the plant which came down from Cheyenne Wyoming, or possibly from Dayton, Ohio where the car carrying the plant came from, or they may be a Texas bug since we didn’t notice the bugs at first.
K Whitley
Katy, Texas 77450

Mournful Sphinxes

Mournful Sphinxes

Hi K,
You are correct. These are Hawk Moths in the family Sphingidae, more specifically, they are Mournful Sphinxes, Enyo lugubris. You can see more images and read information about this species on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.  It is a Texas species.

Moth with clear wings and colourful body
Sat, Jan 10, 2009 at 6:14 PM
Please can you tell me what this bug is? It flew into the house, struggling under it’s own weight! The body is over 3 cm long but including antennae it’s over 4 cm in length. It’s bottom goes feathery and flares out when it is flying. It is also quite loud in flight. My son insists that it isn’t, but I am placing my bet on ‘moth’.
Ann H
Artarmon, NSW Australia

Bee Hawk Moth

Bee Hawk Moth

Hi Ann,
Your son is correct.  This is a Bee Hawk Moth, Cephonodes kingii.  We identified it on the Brisbane Insect Website.  An Australian Caterpillar Website has images of the entire metamorphosis and identifies it as the Gardenia Hawk Moth because the caterpillar feeds on gardenia.