Tribal-Designed Cockroach/Beetle
November 15, 2009
We found this creature on the shower curtain in the bathroom. Screaming rang through the house. This thing however remained very still, even when he was placed in a bottle.
It’s black with orange and green-brown tribal-like design throughout it’s body. At the top of it’s hard-like wings, it’s very bumpy – either holes or bumps. It’s body is three inches long, including its head. EXTREMELY LONG antennae – they bend into the top of the cover. 2 very long front legs, 4 other legs. It’s underside is like a cockroach’s.
We don’t know if it’s a cockroach or beetle, and we’re not sure if it’s poisonous or not (we have a 5 yr old kid).
We’ve looked everywhere, but no one and no website seems to know. Please help.
WildFire
Trinidad, West Indies

Harlequin Beetle

Harlequin Beetle

Dear WildFire,
This is a Harlequin Beetle, Acrocinus longimanus, one of the Long Horned Borer Beetles in the family Cerambycidae.  It has no venom, so it is not considered dangerous, though we caution about calling it perfectly harmless.  Like other members of its family, its larval stage is spent boring in wood, and the larva also pupates in its wooden chamber.  The adult beetle needs to escape this wooden nursery, and its jaws are well adapted to chewing its way out.  They could deliver a painful bite, and possibly cause bleeding, especially to a five year olds soft skin.  We would encourage you to release this noble insect so that it may find a mate and procreate.

Thank you for your reply. I find it very strange since I’ve been living here for twelve years and I have never seen one of these before. Can you possibly tell me the origin of these beetles? And what they feed on, perhaps?
Thanks again.
WildFire.

Dear Wildfire,
The following information comes from Encyclopedia Britannica Online:  “large tropical American beetle with an elaborate variegated pattern of black with muted red and greenish yellow markings on its wing covers.

The common name refers to the beetle’s gaudy pattern; the Latin longimanus of the species name refers to the extremely long forelegs of the males. These legs are usually longer than the beetle’s entire body, which can measure nearly 76 mm (3 inches). In addition to serving as a sexual advertisement to females, the long legs help the males to traverse the branches of trees (the beetles fly as well as crawl). Despite the seemingly conspicuous colours, the harlequin hides itself effectively among the lichen- and fungus-covered trunks of tropical woods such as fig trees.

Ranging from Mexico to South America, this beautiful beetle feeds on sap and lays its eggs on the trunks of dead or dying trees. It is active during the day but can be attracted to lights at night. Females prefer to lay their eggs on trunks and logs with bracket fungus, which provides excellent camouflage. Before laying, the female gnaws an incision about 20 mm (0.8 inch) wide and 7.6 mm (0.3 inch) deep in the bark. She will lay 15 to 20 eggs over the course of two to three days. When the larvae hatch, they bore into the wood. When they mature at seven to eight months, the 13-cm (5-inch) larvae tunnel further, where they dig a cell in which to pupate. The adult beetle emerges four months later, gnawing its way out of the wood. The life cycle is annual.

The harlequin beetle’s body often hosts a species of tiny arachnids known as pseudoscorpions (Cordylochernes scorpioides), which live beneath the harlequin’s colourful wing covers. The minute pseudoscorpions use the beetle for transport to new food sources and as a way to meet potential mates. To keep from falling off when the beetle flies, they attach themselves to the harlequin’s abdomen with silken threads spun from pincherlike glands in their claws. When they arrive at a suitable new site, they anchor to their destination with a new strand of silk and slide off the beetle.

Harlequin beetles belong to the long-horned beetle family, Cerambycidae.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

what is it?
November 11, 2009
i would like to know what kind of bug this is
Brenda Bouvier
Enterprise Northwest territories

Bee-Like Robber Fly

Bee-Like Robber Fly

Hi Brenda,
This is a Bee-Like Robber Fly in the genus Laphria.  There are no exact matches on BugGuide, but Laphria janus, which is found in Canada, looks somewhat similar, but with a yellow thorax rather than the black thorax of your specimen.  The Wisconsin Butterflies page shows some mating Laphria janus, and the differences between them an your specimen are even more obvious.  We found a species called Laphria index on the www.hr-rna.com website that also shares some similarities with your specimen.  It is also pictured on the Wisconsin Butterflies website.  Continuing to follow clues, we found an image on BugGuide of a female specimen identified as being in the Laphria scorpio/aeatus group that seems the closest yet, but the abdominal coloration is not exact.  Perhaps one of our readers can assist with an exact species identification.

Daniel:
You are correct on the genus, and it is clearly a male with those big claspers on the tip of the abdomen.  Dr. Robert Cannings in British Columbia would recognize the species right off.
Eric

Dr. Robert Cannings replies:  Laphria gilva
November 15, 2009
Hi Daniel: This is Laphria gilva. It ranges around the whole northern hemisphere in northern coniferous forests (It’s the only holarctic species in the asilid subfamily Laphriinae). In Eurasia it is known as Choerades gilvus. In North America it ranges from Alaska and Yukon east to New Brunswick, south to Pennsylvania, Colorado and California.
Please also let Eric Eaton know its identity. Thanks!
Cheers,
Rob
Dr. Robert A. Cannings
Curator of Entomology
Royal British Columbia Museum

Here is a link to BugGuide with a photo, and one to a European website with wonderful images of mounted specimens.

Tiny bugs all our fence!
November 13, 2009
We live in Philadelphia and over the past few months part of our back yard fence has been colonized by these small (3mm) insects. There are hundreds of them. The fence runs underneath a weeping willow tree, and they appear to also be on the willow. The bugs move fairly quickly. I’ve tried sweeping/blowing them away, and they return hours later. When you squish them it leaves a purple residue. Our landscaper thinks that based on the speed of the insect, that they’re probably a “beneficial”. Any thoughts?
Sam Blackman
Philadelphia, PA (Northwest corner of the city)

Unknown Hemipterans

Black Willow Aphid

Hi Sam,
WE are not having much luck with a definitive identification.  At first we thought these were immature True Bugs, but we cannot find any images that match.  Then we thought perhaps they might be Aphids, which are in the same insect order as the True Bugs. There is a
Giant Willow Aphid, but it doesn’t match your specimens.  We think we need to seek assistance from Eric Eaton and our readership on this identification.

Unknown Hemipterans

Black Willow Aphid

We were not content with giving up, and we located a reference on the UMN Yard and Garden News website for a Black Willow Aphid, with no scientific name.  It is described by Jeffrey Hahn as:  “Black aphids with orangish or brownish legs and cornicles (the tail pipes of an aphid) on willow are black willow aphids. They are large for an aphid, reaching up to 3/16th inch in length. They can be quite abundant in August and September. These aphids are common on willows and may also be found occasionally on poplars and silver maples.
Black willow aphids secrete honeydew, a sticky sugary substance which will coat any object underneath an infestation. Yellowjackets may be attracted to infested trees because of the honeydew. In addition to being a problem in trees, these aphids sometimes have an annoying habit of dropping to the ground and collecting around buildings and nearby objects. If their bodies are crushed, they can stain siding and other objects a blue-purple color.
Despite their abundance, they do little if any lasting harm to established, vigorously growing trees. Their presence is just a nuisance. Tolerate these aphids as much as possible. If you wish to reduce their numbers, try washing them off as many branches as you can reach with a hard spray of water. A less toxic insecticide option would be treat them with insecticidal soap. If nothing is done, their numbers will diminish on their own by the end of the month.
”  That led to an image on Flickr with the scientific name Pterocomma salicis.  That brought us back to BugGuide.  The images online of the Black Willow Aphid are spotted, but other than that, they resemble your insects.  We still hope to get assistance with this ID.

Unknown Hemipterans

Black Willow Aphid

Daniel:
I think it might be a willow aphid of sorts, just not the one you were thinking of.  I think these might be Pterocomma salicis instead, but I am by no means positive.  At this time of year aphids are changing to alternate host plants for the winter, too, so that can really throw things off.  Aphids of the same species can, in at least some cases, look completely different depending on whether they are on the primary host or the alternate host.
Eric

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

What’s this bug?
November 13, 2009
It was on the windshield of our car after we stayed at a hotel near the coast in Georgia.
Roger Racine
coastal Georgia

Polka Dot Wasp Moth

Polka Dot Wasp Moth

Hi Roger,
The caterpillars of your Polka Dot Wasp Moth feed on oleander, and they are known as Oleander Caterpillars.

Big Black Crazy Shaped Moth??
November 10, 2009
This “moth”, has been residing in our home for several days. We couldn’t get a very good picture, but it almost has a spade shaped tail and body part. Have been looking up moth types but cannot find anything similar. Please let us know if you have any ideas, thanks! :)
(We put him back outside, by the way. No carnage here!)
Whitney & Brian
Central Florida

November 12, 2009
identification request
sent in three pictures of a bug a few days back, just wondering how long a request usually takes to be identified. Thanks again,
awaiting identification so we don’t kill them for no reason, as their pretty intimidating looking, and the cat is always trying to capture any renegade bugs in the house.
Brian

Mournful Sphinx

Mournful Sphinx

Hi Brian,
Thanks for your patience.  Though we are unable to respond to every question, when someone bothers to follow up on an original query, we try our best to answer the request.  This is a blurry image of a Mournful Sphinx, Enyo lugubris.  Bill Oehlke’s excellent website has numerous high quality images of the Mournful Sphinx.

Black and Orange Fuzzy Butt Bug
November 13, 2009
I saw this bug today, while hiking at Lake Pleasant (Arizona), it was walking very quickly on the ground. I only had a chance to get one photo.
Hundewanderer
Lake Pleasant, Arizona

Velvet Ant

Velvet Ant

Hi Hundewanderer,
This is a Velvet Ant, a flightless female wasp in the genus Dasymutilla.  We believe, based on the location and on photos posted to BugGuide, that this might be Dasymutilla magnifica.