2 different swallowtail butterflies
July 12, 2010
Hi again Bugman!,
Congrats on the book!
This afternoon near Garnett, Kansas (that’s about an hour and a half South and a little West of Kansas City) I was out looking for interesting photo ops in a field of wildflowers, and saw what I thought was a Tiger Swallowtail butterfly. About 15 seconds looking through your butterfly pages, and I’m pretty sure what I’ve got here is a Zebra Swallowtail. It did not seem a bit put out by my presence, which surprised me because it’s wings were a little battered, you know the way they might look if a bird had gotten a taste?, even so, it was a beaut’ and it allowed me to make many attempts at a clear photo. While I was following it around another type of Swallowtail showed up, and I managed to get a reasonable pic of that one also, though it was not nearly as accommodating as the first one.
I can’t find one that matches it on WTB anywhere! I wondered if you could help me out with that? Both butterflies are striking. They are roughly identical in size. The mystery one is mostly black with vivid yellow spots on it’s wings in the shape of a V. Both of them have a small group of red and blue spots on the hind wings, so I gave some thought to the possibility of sexual dimorphism. Did I spell that right?, but now I’m leaning toward two different species.
The coolest thing to me though, is the several rows of yellow dots down the black one’s abdomen.
July/11/10, Temperature in the mid-80s F, though it felt more like upper 90s.
Thanks in advance!
Jeff in T-Town
Eastern Kansas, USA

Zebra Swallowtail

Hi Jeff,
Thanks for your thoughtful letter and great photos of a Zebra Swallowtail and a male Black Swallowtail.  The Black Swallowtail does exhibit sexual dimorphism.  The difference between male and female Black Swallowtail,
Papilio polyxenes, is summed up on BugGuide as:  “Female, with its large blue patches on hindwings, is a mimic of the Pipevine Swallowtail. Some female Black Swallowtails have little yellow on wings above. Males have more extensive broken yellow band.”  You can also see comparison photos on BugGuide’s Info page.

Male Black Swallowtail

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Looks like a wasp with striped wings.
July 11, 2010
Would you please help me id this flying insect? Is it friend or foe to my garden. It does fly. It looks like a wasp, has clear wings, 3 yellow bands across its body. I think it likes the color red. For the last 3 mornings I have found it on this red crate.
Michelle Dyer
Knoxville, TN, 37919

Cicada Killer

Hi Michelle,
This is a Cicada Killer, a large Sand Wasp that preys upon Cicadas to feed its brood.  The female Cicada Killer stings and paralyzes Cicadas and buries them in a nest.  Adult Cicada Killers feed on nectar.  Sometimes people become alarmed because though the Cicada Killer is a solitary wasp, they do tend to nest in colonies.  Male Cicada Killers will aggressively defend territory, but males are incapable of stinging.  We have never received an authenticated report of a Cicada Killer stinging a person.  That said, we would consider it a friend in the garden.

6 white dots with red stripe on the back of this insect, blue/green exoskeleton
July 12, 2010
Hello bugman,
I cannot figure out what this type of bug is called. It was found on a trail outside Hong Kong University and runs faster than my camera is able to catch. Luckily it stopped for a nice pose.
Henry
Hong Kong University, Hong Kong

Tiger Beetle

Hi Henry,
This is some species of predatory Tiger Beetle in the subfamily Cicindelinae.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Thick-headed fly
July 11, 2010
Thick-headed fly
Sure thought this was a smallish wasp, but finally found out it’s a thick-headed fly. Thought you might like a picture.
Sara
NJ

Thick Headed Fly

Hi Sara,
As we were working on your post, we realized we needed to create a new category for Thick Headed Flies.  We will need to search through our archives to see if we have any older postings of Thick Headed Flies in the family Conopidae, but this might be a first for our website.  We believe your specimen may be in the genus
Physocephala, which BugGuide describes as “adults feed on flower nectar  Females usually oviposit on hosts (mostly bumble bees and wasps) during flight. Larvae become internal parasitoids (usually kill the host).”  There is additional clarification of the life cycle on BugGuide:  “P. tibialis has been reported to parasitize workers of the bumble bee Bombus bimaculatus. Adults apparently alight and inject an egg into the abdomen of their host while in flight.  A study in Alberta showed that bumble bees parasitized by P. texana had the same lifespan as unparasitized individuals (Otterstatter et al, 2002; …).

Ed. Note: A previous posting of a Thick Headed Fly from 2009 was added to the new category.


Maybe Pandora Sphinx
July 11, 2010
Found this moth on July 11th this year on our palm plant on our patio in Peoria, AZ. The closest thing I could find to it is the Pandora Sphinx but both my books tell me they are not found in this part of the United States.
Jeremy
Peoria, AZ

Achemon Sphinx

Hi Jeremy,
Your observations that your moth looked like a Pandora Sphinx,
Eumorpha pandora, was a good hunch since your moth, the Achemon Sphinx, Eumorpha achemon, is in the same genus.  Though they are different species, the two members of the genus Eumorpha share many physical similarities and they also share a portion of their ranges.  You can read more about the Achemon Sphinx on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.  Your shot showing the underwings is wonderful for identification purposes.

Thank you for your help in identifying the moth and for the extra knowledge with it. I really do appreciate it.

Firefly, I think, in Florida
July 10, 2010
Hello again you helpful people! I believe you’d recently asked for photos of fireflies, and here’s one I took last month (had misfiled it and only just found it). When I was trying to ID it, I couldn’t find one that had all the same features. The antennae clearly have some feathering like pterotus, but all the images I found of those had solid red thoraxes. It looks a lot like lucidota, but the images of those I found have plain antennae and no red spot in the middle of the thorax, and no edge color to the wing cases (is that the right term?). What do you think? [Much thanks for the time and effort you expend on this marvelous website!]
Karen H.
Belleview, FL

Checkered Beetle

Hi Karen,
While it sure does look like a Firefly, we are not totally convinced it might not be something else, like a Soldier Beetle.  We are going to post your image and contact Eric Eaton to see if he has an opinion on the identity of your beetle.

Eric Eaton Responds:
July 12, 2010
You are correct, the insect is *not* a firefly.  It is a “checkered beetle,” Chariessa pilosa, and a firefly MIMIC.  Many beetles (and even other insects) masquerade as fireflies because fireflies are poisonous to many predators if they are eaten.
Eric