A few questions regarding a caterpillar
Hi Bugman,
I came across your site when I was trying to figure out what monstrous spider was creeping on my shower ceiling last night. After finding out that you’re THE go-to people for identifying photos of bugs, I thought I’d throw a few your way. We live in southern California and this is a caterpillar that my son found on our fence a few weeks ago, that was starting to make its chrysalis. The next day the chrysalis was fully formed and I realized that there were several other chrysalises along that same fence. I guess that’s the hot spot for them. Anyway, when I looked at some of the other ones, I discovered that one was being invaded by other bugs. Attached are the picture of the caterpillar and of the invaded chrysalis. My questions for you are: Is this a fritillary caterpillar (the only one on your site that closely resembles what I have)? What will the butterfly look like when it comes out? It’s already been 3 weeks – how much longer before the butterfly emerges? Are the bugs on the chrysalis the braconid wasp and were they in the caterpillar before it started the metamorphosis? OK, those are all my questions. Thank you for putting up a wonderfully informative website! My 3.5 year-old son and I have been looking at many of your photos today.

Hi Gina,
Calling us the “go to people” is quite a compliment. This are photos of stages of metamorphosis of the Gulf Fritillary, Agraulis vanillae, a pretty orange butterfly with metallic markings that feeds on passion vine. The adult butterflies should be emerging soon if they have not been parasitized. The Braconid parasitization may have occured at the caterpillar stage or the chrysalis stage.

Correction: (05/18/2008)
Hi, Daniel: My only itty-bitty correction today is that the wasps on the gulf fritillary chrysalis are not braconids. They are some kind of chalcid wasp instead. Chalcids comprise several entire families of insects, so without a microscope and the specimens, no one is likely to be able to say which wasps, exactly, to genus or species. Chalcid larvae typically develop within the caterpillar, but emerge from the chrysalis. All the other recent posts are dead on, including the big African assassin bug. Well done (insert applause here):-)
Eric Eaton

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

A house centipede, saved from drowning!
Dear Bugman,
I bring you good news and interesting story. Most evenings, my 2 daughters share a bath prior to bedtime. This evening my wife yelled at me to come to the bathroom during the bath as there was a ‘bug’ in the bath. I immediately thought house centipede. This was confirmed when at the bottom of the tub the centipede lay. My wife was upset and my daughter scared as I took it from the tub and brought it in the kitchen. It was limp and not moving, bad sign. I put it on a paper-towel and blew dried it. It ‘twitched’. I let it be for a bit longer, at times fanning it a bit, hoping that perhaps a bit more life would return. It was belly up and I decided to stroke it. It attached to me, most certainly a reaction to my touch. I wasn’t optimistic yet and decided to take a few pictures. As I finished taking the shots, I stroked the top of it. It starts to walk, slowly away! I capture it again for a few seconds, wishing to give it a good place to hide. I put it close to my kitchen door and gave it a nudge. He ran to the corner! I took a few more pictures of it in his hiding place. Let me know if you want to see the photos. Due to things that I have read on your website, I took extra ordinary measures to help this little guy out.

Hi Daniel,
Thank you for sending us your exciting rescue account and also for supplying the requested photo.

Glow Worms!
I was walking through my front yard in the Santa Monica Mountains in Southern California last night and wondered why there was a glowing LED on the ground. Upon closer inspection I found two glow worms. One blinked out right away upon being disturbed, but the other kept right on glowing. I’ve lived in California for 33 years and have never seen any bioluminescence. This was an exciting first. Just thought I would share my find. All the best,

Hi Sean,
Though your image is a bit blurry, it is wonderful to see the glow as well as the Glowworms.

Update:  September 14, 2013  (From our personal email account)
Hello Daniel:
Hope all is well these last few days of summer….
Here’s a puzzle:  A colleague of mine said his coworker observed a firefly for an hour last night in his Woodland Hills backyard. Is that possible? Fireflies? I think of them as more midwestern…what could this have been?
Any thought would be appreciated…
Brenda Rees
Southern California Wildlife

Hi Brenda,
Thursday and Friday are very long work days for me.  Sorry for the delay.
This one has a confusing answer, and you didn’t explain exactly what the person saw.
We have several species in the Firefly family Lampyridae, but they are not bioluminescent.  To further confuse things, one has the common name California Glowworm, but Glowworms are in a different family.
We have Glowworms in the family Phengodidae as well.  They glow as larvae, and females are larviform are are supposed to glow.  Winged males do not
Hope that helps.  Would be nice to know exactly what the person saw.  If on the ground and glowing, I’m thinking Western Glowworm.

Hi Again Brenda,
We have been trying to clean up our California Glowworm and Firefly postings thanks to your email, because there were some inconsistencies.  We found this posting in our archives and it seems like a good place to add your email query.  Though it is commonly called a Pink Glowworm (according to Hogue in the Insects of the Los Angeles Basin), members of the genus
Microphotus are actually Fireflies in the family Lampyridae.  Though blurry, this image from our archives shows a nicely glowing individual.  Here is what Hogue writes:  “… the female of the Pink Glowworm … communicates her location to the male … by emitting a continuous uniform luminescent glow.  The adult male has the usual firefly beetle form, but the female is ‘larviform’ (wingless and elongate like the larva …).  The males are not seen as often as the females because they give light only when disturbed, and the light is weak and not used in communication.  The female is fairly common in late spring to early summer in the foothill canyons (a colony was reported from Griffith Park near the Greek Theater, in 1989).  Found at night by its glow and in the daytime under stones lying on leaf mold in grassy areas, the adult Pink Glowworm is easily recognized by the pink color of the flattened segments;  the terminal segments are yellowish.  The segments of the larvae of both male and female are blackish with pink margins.”  See BugGuide for additional information.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Dorcus Brevis or Dorcus parallelus???
Hey bugman,
I found this small beetle (about half an inch long or so) under a rotting log at the edge of the woods behind our house here in Seymour, Tennessee. I know its a stag beetle in the genus Dorcus, but would love to know which of the two Dorcus species found in the US it is. anyway i hope you enjoy the photo. any help would be appreciated. Thanks again for one of my favorite websites.
Michael D.

Hi Michael,
We would love to be able to provide you with an exact species, but that level of taxonomy is way beyone our capabilities. If Eric Eaton and BugGuide can’t do it, we are not going to be much help. We noticed you have already posted your image to BugGuide, and we hope that you will get some results. BugGuide is the best source for accurate and obscure identifications of North American insects. BugGuide is the serious brother of insect identification websites, and we are just the smart mouthed, brash and sassy sibling. We are rotating your image 90 degrees clockwise since it fits our site better that way.

Weird green flying insect
Hi there,
I live in manchester uk and my daughter seen this strange looking insect whilst walking home from college. Ive never seen anything like it before and cant find anything even resembling it. do you know what it is please as im really curious now. Many Thanks

hi Rachael,
This is a Lime Hawkmoth, Mimas tiliae. If you want additional information, visit the UK Moths website.

Can you help identify thsi moth?
This moth was just spotten in Clayton, NJ. Can you help identify it? Thanks,

Hi Ron,
Your moth is a Cecropia Moth, one of the Giant Silk Moths.