Currently viewing the tag: "mysteries"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Mysterious bright green glow–bugs?
Location: Carlsbad, CA
July 9, 2014 9:09 am
Last nite our friend took us to their rental home here in Carlsbad, CA to show us some mysterious glowing objects. I could not believe my eyes. In several nearby trees there were many dozens of bright, emerald green glowing objects that seemed to be about the size of a marble. We guessed there were 100 – 200 spread out over half a dozen trees in four different home’s backyards. None were low enough to the ground to observe, all were 15 to 30 feet high in the trees. The objects did not move, the glow was continuous, not flashing like a firefly. I’ve loved insects all my life, so I am more familiar with them than most people, but this has me completely stumped. Could it be a prank? Don’t know. If it is, there is no way to figure out how anyone could do it. If you have any ideas about what this phenomenon could be, let me know. Worst case I’ll drive back to the neighborhood and start asking the neighbors about it.
Signature: Doug H

Poorly focused image of greenery

Poorly focused image of greenery

Dear Doug,
The image you submitted is a poorly focused image of greenery in the sun, not a night shot of glowing insects.

Daniel,  I know, I don’t have an image of the “light mystery” because they were not accessible.  I was hoping that a description alone might be sufficient.
Doug

Thanks for the clarification Doug.  We often receive “crank” identification requests with doctored images, and though there was a note of seriousness in your request, the image you included was obviously not the phenomenon you were inquiring about.  The only glowing insect that comes to mind that is found in California is the California Glowworm, but to the best of our knowledge, they are not found in trees.  Perhaps one of our readers will provide some insight into the bioluminescent phenomenon you witnessed.

I may go back over to that neighborhood and see if I can get close to one of the glowing objects.  I’ll let you know when I do.  I won’t give up on this.
None of the glowing objects were lower on the trees than about 15 feet above the ground, and there were a couple of hundred.
Doug

We are very curious about this Doug, and we hope to get a followup report with images.

Well my friends, the sad truth is that I went over the neighborhood w/ the glowing lights in the trees, and I asked a homeowner if he know the source. He sure did…he bought some special projection lights from Disney that cast green glowing dots all over the place!!!!  Go figure.  I swear, I looked really carefully to see if these things could be faked, but nothing was obvious, esp at a distance.  Sorry for the false alarm.
Doug

Thanks for solving the mystery Doug.  We are sorry to learn you were the victim of a hoax.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: What is this?
Location: UK
June 4, 2014 10:24 am
My friend found it on his lampshade. Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
Signature: Don’t really care.

Tarantula Hawk???

Tarantula Hawk???

Dear Don’t really care,
We thought this resembled a Tarantula Hawk, but we couldn’t figure out why it was sighted in the UK, so we contacted Eric Eaton.  His reply is posted below.  Can you provide any additional details regarding the sighting?  Did your friend recently receive any packages from abroad?

Eric Eaton’s Response
Definitely a pompilid (spider wasp), and it looks like Hemipepsis or Pepsis.  I’d be curious to know the circumstances under which it was found.  It is probably a stowaway in a shipment from the southwest U.S. or Central or South America.
Eric

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: A flying, stick-like insect
Location: Arcata, CA; coastal, near redwoods
May 21, 2014 2:59 pm
Hello, this is my first time asking a question on this site and I do apologize if I am doing this wrong. I saw the strangest flying insect in Arcata, which is off the coast of Northern California, last week during my lunch break. It was a weird experience as I have never seen anything like it. I was at the community center park, specifically sitting on a grass field next to a small wooded area (deciduous), and this weird insect was flying around me for a few minutes. I was unfortunately not able to snap a picture of it before it left, so I will do my best at describing it in detail: It was about 2-2.5 inches in length and very thin. It was segmented and it’s torso looked very similar to that of a stick bug’s. The weird thing is that it’s body was bent like a U, so it’s head and bottom were higher than the middle part of it’s body. It seemed to have many (perhaps 20 or more) long, very thin legs that almost appeared as hairs falling from it’s t orso as it gracefully floated around. It’s head was a bit thicker than it’s body, and it had very thick, long antennae. I could not see it’s wings, as it was moving them rapidly, and it hovered around like a helicopter. It even got a few inches from my face twice, as if observing me. It was so alien and so freaky, I just had to let you guys know, and hopefully you can give me an idea as to what it was.
Thank you so much.
Signature: Nicole

Drone???

Drone???

Dear Nicole,
Please forgive the delay, but we really wanted to carefully craft our response to you.  This does not sound like any living creature that we know about, but it does sound like a hybrid of two adept predators we have represented in our archives: the Mosquito and the House Centipede.
  Mosquitoes are capable of hovering in place when deciding upon which part of the warm, human body part to puncture.  House Centipedes are fast runners that chase after prey.  We definitely would not want to have an encounter a House Centipede on our own scale.  We heard an interesting news story on NPR last week about the newest small Drones that look like insects, and that are so convincing that real insects have tried to mate with them.  Now, we here at WTB? could never imagine ourselves as the masterminds behind surveillance espionage, however, it we were to design a perfect Drone, we might consider morphing two unrelated species that have specific areas of near perfect mobility, in this case, air and ground.  A hybrid drone could fly to a location and then hit the ground running would be worth the research that went into it.  

Thanks for the reply. This is very interesting.
I appreciate the time you have put into investigating my experience with this unknown “bug”.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Swarms of wood chewing bugs
Location: grand rapids, michigan
April 12, 2014 4:35 pm
At first glance I thought “carpenter ants,” but that’s only because we have a massive carpenter ant issue in our neighborhood. Upon taking a closer look, I realized that they were definitely not carpenter ants. They come in swarms of 20-50 and land on any exposed wood in the area. At first it seemed that they were just congregating, but I noticed that the totem pole I’d been carving was starting to look smoother… Like someone had come around and sanded it for me. Since Wednesday of last week I’d noticed that the entire pole was covered in these things, but was too busy with other things to look closer. Today I went out and got a good look, and it was pretty clear that their mandibles were working extra hard. They were gorging away. I’ve had no luck identifying them on my own, and more than anything I’m just really curious what they are. They don’t seem to come from any particular direction, one minute there’s none , and five minutes later there’s dozens of them. They aren’t the best flyers, and seem to land in the grass every few feet before launching off again.
Signature: dave

Sawfly Chews Wood!!!  But Why???

Sawfly Chews Wood!!! But Why???

Hi Dave,
We wanted to contact Eric Eaton to get his opinion on this perplexing behavior prior to assembling the posting.  Chewing wood is generally a behavior associated with paper wasps and hornets that use the wood pulp in the construction of a nest.  The numbers of wasps you observed coming to your totem pole at the same time also implies that this is some type of social wasp, but it resembles a Wood Wasp more than a social wasp.  Here is what Eric Eaton wrote back.

Dolerus Sawfly chews wood, but why???

Dolerus Sawfly chews wood, but why???

Eric Eaton provided an identification, but cannot explain behavior
Daniel:
Ok, I can identify the wasps, but cannot explain the behavior….
The wasps are sawflies in the genus Dolerus (pretty sure anyway, definitely sawflies).  I’ll ask around and see if anyone can explain them flocking to a wood carving.
Eric

Sawfly attracted to wood shavings.

Sawfly attracted to wood shavings.

Update:  Thanks to Eric Eaton’s identification, we were able to locate an image of a Dolerus Sawfly on BugGuide that does indeed resemble the Sawflies in your images, and it is also crawling on some exposed wood.  There is no explanation regarding what is going on in these BugGuide images, nor in this BugGuide image.  This Cirrus Image website provides some information, including “Their flight is slow and clumsy, resembling that of a common firefly. Larvae feed on various grasses.”  But alas, there is no information on wood chewing activities.

Thanks for the identification!  Its quite odd, they definitely match the description, especially the clumsy flight.  On that note they certainly don’t fly together, they arrive one at a time within a minute or two of each other.  I had to take down some tree limbs today and sure enough the cut ends of the limbs were crawling with these guys within a few minutes.  The odd thing is they don’t interact with each other at all.  In fact it really looks like they are just sitting there.  If you get really close however, you can see their mandibles are hard at work.  They don’t really leave any marks, it seems that they just clean off any small dangling bits of wood.  Yesterday I noticed one had its abdomen curled down in an awkward position as though it was a bee trying to sting the wood.  But I haven’t seen any others do that.  But its like they can smell fresh cut wood for miles, because you won’t see them all day, but cut a log and they’re everywhere.
Thanks again!  You’ve definitely satisfied my curiosity, even if their behavior leaves a new mystery to solve.
Dave

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Please identify
Location: San Jose, Ca
March 11, 2014 3:37 pm
Hello Savior(at least I hope),
My name is Dana John and I live in San Jose, Ca. Last February I was chemically burned from the inside out after taking Penicillin, 1 in a million reaction, and was left with open wounds all over my body. I was also told to smear steroids all over my skin/scalp for months to help with healing and that left me with no immunity. As of now all the holes have healed except on my scalp, meanwhile I have been going crazy due to this bug I will attach photos of. Docs treat me like I am insane and I know I haven’t lost my mind!! I don’t know if this bug is being birthed from my skin or attracted to some type of fungus or mold that may be growing on my skin. Our Vet sent specimens of it to be identified and Cornell University said it was a Crustacian??? Now we are beyond stumped and as the warm summer approaches I am terrified as whatever this thing is it prefers warmer temperatures. I look forward to what you have to say and hope I find help somehow, someway!! I also should say that the photo where you see a darker version of this insect….the darker part of the body is wings that are covering a large thorax that is an amber color.
Signature: Sincerely, Dana John

Springtail, we believe

Springtail, we believe

Dear Dana,
First we want to say that we empathize with your problem, but we are not really qualified to diagnose medical conditions.  The images you provided appear to be of three distinctly different looking “creatures” and one appears to be a benign Springtail, which you can compare to images on BugGuide.  Springtails are commonly found in the home and they can become a nuisance if they are plentiful, but again, they are benign.  According to BugGuide:  “Springtails are ‘decomposers’ that thrive mostly on decaying organic matter, especially vegetable matter. They may also graze on spores of molds and mildews, especially indoors where there is a lack of other food sources.”  We are unable at this time to identify the other two images.

What's That Bug?

What’s That Bug?

What's That Bug???

What’s That Bug???

 

 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Strange Ladybug behavior (keeps walking in circles)
Location: Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico
March 11, 2014 4:45 pm
Hi Bugman,
A week ago from now, I found a ladybug in our backyard that could only walk in circles. It was in direct sunlight, just going round and round, so I decided to do something to prevent a likely death from dehydration, and brought it inside.
It’s been with me for the last 7 days, and I have been feeding it small insects when I can, and when I can’t, it seems to enjoy feeding on rice and sugar. I’ve also been keeping a wet Q-tip in its “cage”. But after 7 days, even when it seems to still be in good health, it is still going round and round, and hasn’t stopped.
Just yesterday, I noticed that it began to walk in straight segments for the first time, but each straight run would still always end up in turning back and completing a loop. It also will not fly, although sometimes it extends its wings a bit.
So, my question is not what kind of bug this is, but rather, why is it displaying such bizarre behavior. All of its legs are intact and move fluidly. Is it possible that it was just born crazy somehow? Was its nervous system damaged by a pesticide possibly? As far as I know, there are no pesticides in our backyard.
I found a video on youtube of another person who observed the exact same behavior:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiA1wZI1oSI
And here’s a video of my own ladybug the moment I found it:
http://www.2yr.net/VIDEO0089.mp4
This behavior is beyond my comprehension! It seems so purposeless and suicidal of it to behave like that…
Signature: Humberto

Ladybird Beetle

Ladybird Beetle

Dear Humberto,
We don’t know the answer to your question, but we will post your submission, feature it on our web page, and hope that someone writes in who can provide some information.  We pondered the possibility of some sort of parasite, and though we discovered there is a Wasp that parasitizes a Lady Beetle, turning it into a “zombie bodyguard”, the walking in circles behavior is not mentioned.  See Science Daily for an account of the wasp parasitization.

Update:  March 16, 2014
Hello,
Thank you so much for your kind response, Mr. Marlos! Here’s an update: The ladybug escaped a few days ago, but was recaptured about 12 hours later. I have recently discovered aphids in our rose plants, and brought a good few into the ladybug’s enclosure, where it has been feasting on them. It is still going in circles though. The first 4 days, the circles it was making were fairly uniform, but now they sometimes distend into straight segments. I have learned a lot about ladybugs just by observing this one. If she stops running in circles before her normal lifespan is over, I will be sure to let you know. I read the article you linked, which was fascinating, but I’m afraid I don’t know how to tell if this ladybug has ever been parasitized.
Thank you! I’m glad to hear I’ve reported on something that was unheard of (I wouldn’t want to send any trivial questions!).
Cheers!
-Humberto

Thanks for the update Humberto.  We look forward to any additional observations you might have.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination