unidentified Mexican butterfly Jan. 2010
January 24, 2010
Thank you for the ID of the Many Banded Daggerwing. This smaller, orange, black and white beauty was in the same area on the Mexican Yucatan peninsula. I am hoping you can tell me more.
Mexico Yucatan area

Silver Emperor

Hi again fparker,
Before we clicked and enlarged your photo, we thought it might be a California Sister, but clearly it is not, nor is it a Lorquin’s Admiral which it also resembles.  Your butterfly is a Silver Emperor, Doxocopa laure, and we believe it is a male, though your photo does not show the bright blue irridescence when the light strikes the wings at the correct angle.  The North American Butterfly Association of North Texas has a nice page on this species.  According to BugGuide, the species is “Sexually dimorphic upperwing patterns. Females have a diagonal white slash across both wings, and a yellow spot near the forewing apex; extremely similar to female Pavon Emperor but this species has a broader white stripe with a rounded tip. Male has a stripe across its upperwings but is white only on hindwings, turns yellow on forwings. Underwing pattern is similar to upperwing but less distinct and with a grayish or silvery cast overall.”  BugGuide also indicates:  “Adults visit rotting and overripe fruit, sap, animal dung, and carrion. Larvae feed on foliage of hackberries and sugarberries.”  Thanks for contributing another new species to our website.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

a moth?
January 24, 2010
well i found 2 similar caterpillars about 2 months ago so i took them to my house oh and i took the leafs from the near trees and i err raised them until they became cocoons and well one cocoon went missing while the other one is still in its cocoon and one day there was a moth i think, that was on the cocoon so i wonder is this what came out of the missing one if so why was it on the other’s cocoon…
Victor R
west israel

Green Drab Moth

Hi Victor,
Your moth resembles a Fruit Piercing Moth, Eudocima materna, we have posted in the past.  It is definitely a different species, but we wonder if it is related.  We hope one of our readers can assist in this identification.

Cocoon: Fruit Piercing Moth

Hi Daniel and Victor:
This is indeed a fruit-piercing moth, probably Ophiusa tirhaca (Noctuidae: Catocalinae). I don’t know if it has a common name in Israel but elsewhere it is referred to as the Green Drab Moth. It has quit a wide distribution, including southern Europe, Africa and Asia, and it has been introduced to Australia. As the name of the group suggests, the adult moths feed by piercing various fruits, especially soft fruits. The larvae feed on the leaves of a variety of trees and shrubs and can be a pest on pistachio trees (including in Israel).   Regards.

Striped anglewing butterfly?
January 24, 2010
Thank you for your help in identifying this butterfly found in a jungle, mangrove area on yucatan peninsula in January, 2010.
F Parker
Puerto Morelos, Mexico

Many Banded Daggerwing

Dear F Parker,
This is a Many Banded Daggerwing, Marpesia chiron, a species, according to BugGuide, that ranges from “West Indies and Mexico south to Argentina. Rare stray to south Texas, very rare to Florida and Arizona, one record from Kansas.
”  We have previously posted photos of a related species, the Ruddy Daggerwing, but your photo is a first for the Many Banded Daggerwing.  Thanks for the contribution.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Red wasp-like insect that kills spiders
January 23, 2010
I need help identifying the insect in the photo. It was the length of an index finger, bright red with black stripes. It was dragging along a dead (?) furry spider. I need to know if it’s dangerous to humans, it was at the Botanical Garden where I do volunteer work year-round. It’s summer here in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and it’s normal to see more insects (and bigger) than usual, especially in the Botanical Garden (I do volunteer work with cats abandoned in the Garden). The Botanical Garden has a lot of exotic plants found nowhere else in the city. Should I be worried about this bug? I’d appreciate any info you could give me.
Eugenia Pascual
Botanical Gardens, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Spider Wasp with Prey

Dear Eugenia,
We love your letter and we wish your photograph wasn’t so blurry.  Perhaps your boss will pay for a photography class (shameless self promotion since we teach photography) and then you will better be able to document the wonders of the natural world at the Botanical Gardens.  Please bear with us as we might get a little bit preachy here since we finally connected with the world yesterday and saw Avatar in 3D.  The film profoundly affected us and we thank James Cameron for spreading the word about the need for preservation, the horrors of greed and war and violence, the fragility of our world, the interconnectivity of all things, and the elusiveness of unobtainium.  With that said we will now try to answer your question.  In a most general sense, this is a Spider Wasp in the family Pompilidae, though it will take us some time to try to identify the exact species.  We do not get many letters from Argentina, and we are not sure if there are comprehensive websites devoted to Argentine insects.  The filmic experience of Avatar has made us sensitive, so we might sound harsh when we ask “Did the Spider Wasp try to sting you and drag you back to its burrow to feed its young?”   We suspect your answer will be no, so you have nothing to fear.  The Spider Wasp only wants to provide for her progeny, and she has no desire to sting people.  However, if she is molested, she may sting to defend herself.  Spider Wasps are often very specific about the species of spiders they prey upon.  Adult Spider Wasps feed upon nectar, which is another reason the botanical gardens are an attractive habitat for them.  Based on the coloration and pattern, we suspect your wasp might be in the genus Tachypompilus, which BugGuide indicates is transcontinental for North America.  BugGuide also indicates they prey upon Lycosids, Wolf Spiders, which is consistent with the furry spider description of your letter, though we could never hope to get an identification of the spider from your photo.  Tachypompilus banksi might be the wasp in your photo, and we found a lovely photo posted online on the Insectarium Virtual website.  The site has this information:  “From the observations made known to hunt big spiders Lycosidae, Pisauridae and Sparassidae. The spider is captured by the jaws and dragged by the female. The construction of the nest sites are quite varied: cracks in rocks, hollow logs, cracks in walls or under stones. The nests are accumulations of powdery earth where the female buries the spider digging depressions of about 2 cm deep and only inches apart from one another (multicellular nest, according to Genise). The wasp builds the cell after the spider hunt.
”  Google provides a translation from Spanish.  We are also intrigued with your volunteer job with abandoned cats in the Botanical Gardens.  We can’t help but wonder if the cats are encouraged to hunt rats or if your work involves relocating them.

Thank you for the prompt reply! I apologize for the quality of the picture- I was feeding some cats, leaning over to put down a bowl of Cat Chow, when I turned around and there they were, inches from me face! I dropped the bowl (you can see kibble on the floor in the pic) and ran for it since I am extremely allergic to insect bites and these insects were hands down the biggest I’ve ever seen while volunteering in the Botanical Garden. I borrowed a phone with a camera from a passing tourist, and took the photos as far away as I possibly could, while still shaking a bit. That is why the photo is of such poor quality. I have to say the wasp was minding its own business and never noticed me at all. It was having some trouble dragging the spider up the side of a wall, the spider kept slipping off and falling.
The Botanical Gardens in Buenos Aires, Argentina, were designed and donated by famous Argentine architect Carlos Thays back in the 1800s. Here is the Wikipedia article on it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buenos_Aires_Botanical_Garden Sadly, the article is full of innacuracies. Security in the Garden is minimal, so cats are abandoned there on a daily basis. The Park doesn’t contribute any funds towards the care of the cats, which were as many as 300 when the volunteers started their work there. We have managed, through intensive adoption campaigns and castration operatives, to keep the number down to about 100 cats, in spite of the new cats abandoned there every day. The Pasteur Institute does not contribute to their care at all. The Park also suffers from lack of government funding, so maintenance of the grounds and buildings is minimal.
Which brings me back to my original question. I want to avoid disturbing this kind of wasp when I go to the Park to feed the cats, provide basic veterinary for them, and neuter and arrange adoptions. How do I avoid its habitat completely? I know I should avoid cracks in rocks, hollow logs, cracks in walls or under stones. Is there anything else I should know about avoiding this wasp completely? And what about Wolf Spiders? If the wasp had caught one, it means that they live in the Park too. How do I avoid running into them?
Thank you so much for all your help.

Hi Eugenia,
Thanks for all the additional information.  You went through so much trouble to get the photo that we feel badly about commenting on the quality.  Cellular telephones are notoriously poor in the quality of their photos, but they are such a wonderful convenience.  The spider, according to one of the links might also be a Huntsman Spider or a Fishing Spider.  Some tropical Huntsman Spiders are reported to be poisonous, but the bites of Fishing Spiders and Wolf Spiders are not considered dangerous, though all spiders have venom.  The Spider Wasps are not an aggressive group either, and they will not attack you.  Sadly, other than living in a plastic bubble, there is probably no way to avoid them entirely.  Thanks for the clarification on the cats.  We would imagine that 300 cats at the gardens might become quite a nuisance, not to mention that once the rats are caught, they might turn to birds and lizards.  We love cats, but they can upset a natural ecosystem, though the Botanical Gardens are hardly be considered natural.  Have a wonderful day.

cocoons in comfrey tea
January 23, 2010
I just found clear, wriggling cocoons in my comfrey compost tea. you can see the bug inside the cocoon, a long black object with wings wrapped around. they have long stringy tails and are all bundled in a mass together. they do not look like maggots and they are roughly 1 cm in length. can you help me? i could not really get good shots as my camera is not much of a close up one.
New zealand, north island

Rat Tailed Maggots in Comfrey Tea

Dear shayni,
Our first thought on this is that we need to research exactly what the pupa of the Rat Tailed Maggot looks like, and then we need to see if comfrey tea is the name for the liquid fertilizer that is made by brewing manure in water.  You are right about your photo being blurry, but it does give a general idea of this mass of insects, but alas, the details must remain in our imagination, though that has been known to be rather vivid at times.  We see we were wrong about the comfrey tea, which is made from the plant comfrey, Symphytum officinale, and is applied externally to a number of conditions including bruises, cuts and acne, and that it might be used as an organic fertilizer.  It appears you have brewed it outdoors in a large bucket, which is why you have what we suspect your insects are Rat Tailed Maggots.  Rat Tailed Maggots are the larvae of Drone Flies, Eristalis tenax,  According to Charles Hogue in Insects of the Los Angeles Basin:  “the larvae live in water, usually in sluggish streams or small stagnant ponds that are foul with organic matter; they may also breed in fresh liquid cow manure.  Because of their extremely long, extendable posterior breathing tube, the larvae are called ‘Rat-Tailed Maggots.'”  We then found an online article entitled Eristalis tenax and Musca vomitoria in New Zealand by G.V. Hudson, F.E.S. that was read before the Wellington Philosophical Society on the 2nd October 1889.  Suddenly, your simple letter opened up an entirely new can of worms since the Drone Fly was reported in New Zealand prior to 1889:  Is the Drone Fly a truly cosmopolitan species because its range expanded naturally?  Or was it spread by man?  Mmmmmmm.  BugGuide has some excellent images of Drone Flies mating and BugGuide indicates the Drone Fly was introduced to North America prior to 1874.  We can’t help but wonder why and how Drone Flies were introduced to North America.  This could be a graduate thesis topic, but alas, at some point, we need to stop and respond that you have Rat Tailed Maggots in your Comfrey Tea.  According to Wikipedia:  “When fully grown, the larva creeps out into drier habitats and seeks a suitable place to pupate. In doing so it sometimes enters buildings, especially barns and basements on farms. The pupa is 10-12 mm long, grey-brown, oval, and retains the long tail; it looks like a tiny mouse.
”  We should also mention that the adult Drone Fly is a perfect mimic to the adult Honey Bee, and this mimicry is in itself interesting in that both the Honey Bee and the Drone Fly are connected to human agriculture and animal husbandry. Mmmmmm.

Bug in the Bunk Bed
January 23, 2010
My parents have a 20 yr old oak bunk bed which seems to be hosting a weird bug. I had first found it on the wall next to the bed then we moved the bed into a different room and I found another one a month later on the bed sheet. After each find, I cleaned like crazy…and yes another month or so later I found this one…What is it??? I took the bed out of storage in a barn four years ago. I think I remember seeing one then too but dismissed it. But now, it’s driving me crazy and well I don’t want my kids to be sleeping in the cool bed their grandparents set up for them when they stay there in the summer…can you help?
Kind Regards
Western Massachusetts, country home


This is a harmless Pseudoscorpion, a predator that will help keep unwanted insects from your home without presenting any threat to humans or pets, unless your pets are cockroaches or houseflies.

Thank you very much for taking the time to reply.
I’m am honestly amazed for both the speedy response and the actual bug itself.
Thank you again.