Bugtopia
Mon, Oct 6, 2008 at 3:08 PM
The mums are in full bloom in northern Virginia, right near the Blue Ridge Mountains. A mantis has set up home and enjoying the buffet. Not really much that needs identified, but I appreciated to be on the bugs level. Roll Call: Mantis, Ermine Moth, Conifer Seed Bug. Can you tell what the mantis is eating for my records?
Don
Purcellville, VA

Preying Mantis eats Bug of the Month

Preying Mantis eats Bug of the Month

Hi Don,
It sure looks to us like your Preying Mantis is eating our Bug of the Month, the Pennsylvania Leatherwing or Goldenrod Soldier Beetle.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Busy Spider
Mon, Oct 6, 2008 at 3:39 PM
Hello,
This is a photo from a coworker who spotted this spider weaving its web in his garden. We have the same spider in front of our office building and everyone is curious to know what kind of spider it is. The dimensions are about 3″ in length with legs spread. Any thoughts?
Curious
San Diego, California

Western Spotted Orbweaver

Western Spotted Orbweaver

Dear Curious,
We just posted a very lengthy response to a person from Texas who sent a photo of a Barn Spider. In that response, we waxed near impossibility of accurately identifying many spiders in the genera Neoscona and Araneus because of individual variations. We also posed the possibility of hybridization as geographically distinct populations come into contact with one another thanks to the global travel that so many people enjoy. Typically, young spiderlings can disperse as far as the wind will carry them, but now spiderlings can travel across the country or around the world with luggage. We also believe that what taxonomists have classified as distinct species may actually be subspecies capable of interbreeding. With all that now stated again, and more concisely, we do believe you have Neoscona oaxacensis, the Western Spotted Orbweaver, but we may be wrong. It would be much safer for us to just say you have an Orbweaver.

Horned Micro Moth for ID
Mon, Oct 6, 2008 at 5:29 PM
Hi Guys,
came across this little guy in my garden this morning and was taken by the stunning iridescence in the brown scales and the two little horns. The yellow section also fluoresces in the sunlight and was hard to photograph without flaring. It is about 1 cm long and only about 1 to 1.5mm cross section. It is seen here sitting on the leaf of a cucumber vine. No idea what the ID might be so hopefully someone can help.
aussietrev
Burnett Region, Queensland AU

Australian Microlepidopteran

Australian Microlepidopteran

Hi Trevor,
We usually can’t even identify the Microlepidoptera we receive from the U.S., but perhaps someone will write in with an identification for your lovely Australian specimen.

October 7, 2008
Hi Daniel – What a great new site. Congratulations!
Re: Microlepidoptera from Australia
I am wondering if the microlepidoptera is a Micropterigidae. “A Guide to Australian Moths by Zborowski and Edwards describes them as “tiny, hairy head, short thickened antennae held up and out, shining colours, wings held steeply roof-wise.” They are “very small, shining in gold and blackish purple and are found in moist places, usually rainforest.” They are active during the day, preferring shade or dappled sunlight. Sabatinca sterops is very small and golden in colour and is found in Northern Queensland, which I think is where Trev lives? Unfortunately the book has no photograph of Sabtinca sterops.
Hope this helps,
Grev

Update: October 8, 2008
Micromoth ID
Hi guys,
after several inquiries to moth men here in Australia the ID is most possibly XYLORYCTIDAE Telecrates melanochrysa. Several images can be found at http://www.ento.csiro.au/gallery/moths/Telecratesmelanochrysa/telecrates_melanochrysa_02
Thanks Grev for your research. The two little horns turn out to be labial paps. Possibly not easily spotted in the photo is the fact that the antennae are lying back along the body curving down to the leaf just before the second brown band.
Trevor

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Barn Spider?
Mon, Oct 6, 2008 at 7:47 PM
Hello,
I’ve seen this spider on the other side of my window every night now for about a month. It lives in the crevice of my window during the daytime and at night it comes down and sits in the middle of its web. Its underside is black with two small white dots, and its a little bigger than a quarter. I’ve done my research and my best guess is that it’s a barn spider. I don’t know if I can include links or not but I also have a video of it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=qYO1y9cygQ0 (ignore the TV in the background)
Jnco
San Angelo, (West) Texas

Barn Spider

Barn Spider

Hi Jnco,
Your spider surely does look like a Barn Spider. Species in the genus Neoscona are commonly called Spotted Orbweavers and, according to BugGuide: “Some species (usually collectively referred to as “barn spiders”, i.e. Neoscona crucifera ) are nearly impossible to distinguish from Araneus and can only be separated by examination of carapace to view the carapace groove (fovea). Neoscona have a longitudinal groove on the carapace (parallel with the long axis of the body), whereas Araneus have angular (transverse) grooves. However, an apparent problem is that in Araneus the groove may appear as little more than a dimple, making it tough to tell. See this diagram for differences in the carapace grooves.” We have never taken identification quite that far, and due to individual variation within the species of Araneus and Neoscona, it is sometimes quite difficult for us to get more specific than to just identify a spider as an Orb Weaver. We did find a nice chatty comment about the nocturnal habits of Neoscona hentzi or Barn Spider on an amusing website called Nature at Close Range. Also, according to BugGuide, Neoscona hentzi is synonymous with Neoscona crucifera. It is embarrassing for us to admit it, but we haven’t ever bothered positively identifying our own species of Orbweaver. Our own nocturnal spinners get quite numerous in the autumn and they spin webs all over our garden and patio. We had three large females spinning webs in close proximity to one another and our front porch light for weeks, but a few days ago, there were just two. We have wondered about the fate of the third as her web remained in place from day to day, getting more and more tattered, while her sisters consumed their own webs each morning and resumed spinning anew when the sun sets each evening. Since we have never gone to the extent of examining the anatomy of our own individuals, and are not certain of their exact genetic lineage, we can’t rule out entirely that they might have hybridized with other introduced species.
Geographical barriers that once separated individual populations from one another have been breached by man who is responsible for accidental introductions of many exotic specimens into new habitats. Sometimes this has dire consequences, and sometimes these introductions may go unnoticed. We figure the spiders know best about mate selection, and species and subspecies are only categories created by humans in a feeble attempt to better understand the world around us. Future taxonomists may even determine that Araneus and Neoscona need to be lumped together into one super-genus, but the bottom line is that the spiders know and we only presume to know. We think Charles Hogue had the right idea in Insects of the Los Angeles Basin when he identified Neoscona oxacensis (probably a misspelled Neoscona oaxacensis or Western Spotted Orbweaver on BugGuide) as the Common Orb Weaver and wrote: “This is our most common orb weaver; in late summer and fall, its moderate-sized webs adorn gardens everywhere in the basin.”
P.S. We are getting used to the nuances of our new website and we are pleased that we can include the date we received a letter in the body of the posting, and can allow our program to time stamp the actual posting date. Your letter marks the first time we are including this double date.

What’s that blue beetle?
Mon, Oct 6, 2008 at 5:48 PM
Saw this great beetle with bright blue legs on 10/5/08 on the Crawford Trail at Dripping Springs just east of Las Cruces, New Mexico. Only saw the one specimen and have tried identification without success. Would love to know what this beautiful specimen is.
JC
Las Cruces, New Mexico

Drummond's Blue-Footed Bup

Drummond

Hi JC,
We quickly located your Metallic Wood Boring Beetle or Jewel Beetle on BugGuide. It is Drummond’s Blue-footed Bup, Lampetis drummondi. According to BugGuide: “Range
Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas” and
“Season May to November, but most specimens in the Texas A&M University Insect Collection (TAMUIC) from June through August.” The Texas Beetle Information page lists host plants as Mesquite, Guajillo, Pecan and Chinese elm.

Mantis vs Monarch
Hey Bugman,
I love this site! You have helped me identify the bagworns and army worms that have invaded my country yard this year, but today we had a nice treat in the garden. My children spotted this struggling monarch and thought he was just injured. Upon closer inspection we discovered that he was trapped by a well disguised mantis! While we don’t like to lose a monarch, it was fascinating to see nature in action!
Keeping it Country
Fairview, Texas (north of Dallas)

Preying Mantis eats Monarch Butterfly

Preying Mantis eats Monarch Butterfly

Dear Keeping,
Thanks so much for sending us your fascinating Food Chain image.  Mantids often wait in blossoms for unsuspecting pollinators like wasps, bees and butterlies.  Your mantis appears to be immature as the wings don’t look fully developed.

Ed. Note:  Thanks to a comment, we now know that this is a Carolina Mantis.