Banded Sphinx Caterpillar

Banded Sphinx Caterpillar

Subject: large caterpillar swimming
Location: Western Kentucky
October 10, 2014 1:33 pm
I had never seen a caterpillar swim before. We were walking along a creek when we saw this large caterpillar “swimming”. It would bend it’s self almost in half to the left, then straighten out, then bend in the opposite direction and straighten out. It propelled it’s self through the water this way. It crawled along a leaf and stick, then set off swimming again for the bank. It was the size of a tobacco horn worm, but much more colorful. I have gone through several pages of your caterpillars and can find nothing close to this one. It was very colorful in the striping, and had a red head, can you tell me what it was, and which one of the large silk moths or sphinx moths it will become? It was seen In Western Kentucky in September of this year (2014)
PS: I have sent this picture and request twice before with no response. I am sending it again as I really want to know what it was.
Signature: Janet Fox

Hi Janet,
First we want to apologize for not responding on your first two attempts.  We really do have a skeleton crew and we do not have the man power to respond to every request.  Even if we did not have gainful employment forcing us to leave our comfortable home office, we still would not be able to effectively respond to all the mail we receive.  Had we known that you had such an exceptional image of a Banded Sphinx Caterpillar to accompany your unusual sighting, you would most certainly have gotten a response on your first attempt.  The Banded Sphinx Caterpillar,
Eumorpha fasciatus, is a variably colored and marked caterpillar with this particular bold and colorful pattern being the most memorable.  You can see more images and read more about the life history of the Banded Sphinx on the Sphingidae of the United States site.  The adult Banded Sphinx is a gorgeous moth.  This is the second account we have received of Banded Sphinx Caterpillars found in water.  We wonder if they are subject to parasites that cause them to drown themselves like Potato Bugs have when infected with Horsehair Worms.

Thank you for helping me identify my swimmer.  I thought it would have had to have been a silk moth or sphinx moth due to it’s size.
I had never seen one swim before.  I was so amazed, later I kicked myself for not taking a video of it instead of still shots.
Live and learn.  Next time, if I ever see another one swim, I will video it.
Thanks again.
Janet Fox

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Female California Mantis eats Monarch

Female California Mantis eats Monarch

Subject: Preying Mantis: eat, prey, love
Location: South Pasadena, CA
October 11, 2014 6:49 pm
Hello Daniel. Although I have a good population of mantises and monarchs, these were unusual sights for me. Only time I’ve ever seen a mantis eat a monarch, and only the second time I’ve seen the headless mating. This was last month, within the same week, and I think the same female mantis.
Signature: Barbara

Mating California Mantids with headless male

Mating California Mantids with headless male

Hi Barbara,
We get numerous wonderful submissions each day, but your submission with its excellent images is one of the best we have received in quite some time.  We believe these are native California Mantids,
Stagmomantis californica, and you can compare your female to this image on BugGuide.  The headless mating is is quite some documentation.

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Subject: Big spider in Arizona
Location: Central Arizona
October 11, 2014 5:38 pm
Dear What’s That Bug?,
While backpacking in the Mazatzal Wilderness near Payson, Arizona I saw this amazing spider! I thought it was my first tarantula, but after looking up pictures of tarantulas, I’m not sure. It was in early October in the morning and it was walking across the path. I managed to take two pictures, but it was moving pretty fast for a spider, so they aren’t great.
Signature: Jason



Hi Jason,
This is definitely a Tarantula, and our best guess is that it is a Desert Blond Tarantula based on images posted to bugGuide.

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Cow Killer

Subject: Cowkiller
Location: south Louisiana
October 10, 2014 8:15 pm
What’s up Bug man! I caught a red velvet ant/wasp in my back yard while I was mowing and I put it in a container. What can I feed it?
Signature: Jon Hite

Dear Jon,
Velvet Ants are flightless female wasps, and most adult wasps take nectar or other sweet, sugary liquids as food.  According to BugGuide:  “Adults (males?) take nectar.”  Perhaps honey will suffice.

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Aquatic Larva

Aquatic Firefly Larva

Subject: Unknown aquatic macroinvert
Location: Huntington, Indiana
October 11, 2014 9:27 am
Hey bugman!
The college ecology class I teach found this critter while sampling a small, wooded creek on our campus. I’ve shown the picture to a couple of aquatic ecologists I know and none of them have been able to identify it yet. The best we can come up with is that it is some sort of free living caddisfly (Trichoptera). The “shell” looks a lot like an aquatic isopod though! It definitely had only 6 legs. ~1.5-2 cm in length.
Any ideas?
Signature: Collin Hobbs

Hi Collin,
We haven’t a clue as to the identity of your creature, but we wonder if it might be the larva of an aquatic beetle because it really resembles a Firefly Larva or a Netwing Beetle Larva.  We are not certain if there are any aquatic beetle larvae that look like this, but we believe that is a more likely candidate than the larva of a Caddisfly.  We will try contacting Eric Eaton to see if he can provide any information.

Eric Eaton confirms our identification
On my way out the door, but….
Looks like a firefly larva to me, and there are species that prey exclusively on aquatic snails….

Ed. Note:  Beetles in the Bush and Cambridge Journals Online both have articles on aquatic Firefly Larvae.

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Mating Oil Beetles

Mating Oil Beetles

Subject: Blue Beetle
Location: Castine Maine
October 11, 2014 10:10 am
Multiple Blue Beetle apparently copulating in path October 5, 2014 in Castine ME. I write a nature column in a local newspaper and wish to include this. I tried three photos before and it would not go. I’ll try one this time.
Signature: Peter

Dear Peter,
These are mating Blister Beetles in the genus
Meloe, and they are commonly called Oil Beetles.  We have numerous examples of mating Oil Beetles on our website.

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