Subject:  Caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Zimbabwe harare
Date: 01/21/2018
Time: 02:35 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Clusters of this bug can only be found on one tree in our garden.  Demolishing the leaf to a skeleton before moving on.  They have been here for 2 weeks now with no sign of lying eyes or making cocoons
How you want your letter signed:  Di

Tortoise Beetle Larvae, we believe

Dear Di,
These are NOT Caterpillars, the larvae of butterflies or moths.  Rather, they are beetle larvae.  We suspect they are Leaf Beetle larvae or more specifically Tortoise Beetle larvae from the subfamily Cassidinae.  Knowing the tree would be of tremendous assistance to providing an actual species identification.  The look like the Fool’s Gold Beetle larvae pictured on BioDiversity Explorer, but that would mean your tree is actually a shrub in the family Solanaceae.

Tortoise Beetle larvae we believe

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Inside a European Paper Wasp nest
Geographic location of the bug:  Tonasket, WA
Date: 01/22/2018
Time: 11:00 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I think I can only send one picture at a time.  There’s 3.
At the end of the hatching season, these1/2 dozen or so had a hole chewed in the top of their egg cell. None of the earlier eggs had this done to them. Don’t know if it was the baby or their mates that did it. About 2 weeks later the wasp emerged the same way as all the rest, by chewing the cap off from the inside and flipping it back like a Pez dispenser. They were next to my garden, and I had absolutely no bugs. Not good ones or bad ones. They are also very calm. I took tons of pictures and the only time they got excited was when the wind blew my hair into their nest. They didn’t chase me very far… lol. I know they eat the good as well as the bad, but that’s just nature. My moral dilemma here, is I know they are an invasive species. Any thoughts on whether or not they should be destroyed?
How you want your letter signed:  Cathy

European Paper Wasp Nest

European Paper Wasp Nest (10 days later)

This is on 8-15-17, and I’m sending it because it looks like it has moved in there. I’m really  close, 3 or 4 inches and on macro. Sorry it’s still blurred. None of the wasps cared I was there. It hatched a couple of days later.

European Paper Wasp Nest (11 days later)

Dear Cathy,
Thanks for sending in your images of the activity in a European Paper Wasp Nest.  According to BugGuide:  “First reported in North America in 1978 near Boston, MA” and “Replacing native wasps in some areas.”  According to Colorado State University Extension:  “The European paper wasp has already largely replaced the native species in much of the region. Some reasons for the competitive advantage to P. dominulus over our native paper wasps include:

  • Earlier establishment of colonies in the spring, which allows it a competitive advantage in collection of early season prey. Early nest establishment also avoids some bird predation, and allows the production of early season workers to hunt for prey and protect developing larvae.
  • The habit of using protected nesting sites provides protection from predation. The European paper wasp utilizes small holes and voids to make nests, which are sites the native species does not exploit to the same extent.
  • The native paper wasps prey on caterpillars, while the European paper wasp capture a variety of insects from several orders. The varied diet of our new invader gives it a distinct advantage over the native species.
  • European paper wasps reuse nests that have been abandoned for various reasons, while our native species do not reuse nests. European paper wasps have an advantage in being able to establish colonies more quickly than the native paper wasps.

We empathize with your dilemma.  At the end of the day, there are species that adapt to co-existing with humans and species that do not.  Species that adapt to living near humans often out compete native species.  We always lament the loss of native species after the introduction of invasive species. 

Subject:  Grub
Geographic location of the bug:  San Diego coastal 15″ below ground
Date: 01/20/2018
Time: 08:00 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I’ve never encountered a grub so large before and would like to know what kind of beetle this will become.
How you want your letter signed:  Matt Lee

Prionid Larva

Dear Matt,
This appears to be one of the Root Borers in the subfamily Prioninae.  Was there a tree or shrub nearby, or perhaps the trunk of something that had died?  While we are reluctant to provide a definitive species identification, it might be the larva of a California Root Borer like this image posted to BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “Larvae: Up to 80mm long” and “Larva feed primarily on living deciduous trees (oaks, madrone, cottonwood) and are also recorded from roots of vines, grasses, and decomposing hardwoods and conifers. Will also attack fruit trees growing on light, well-drained soils (e.g. apple, cherry, peach).”  If that is a correct identification, here is an image of an adult male California Root Borer, though your larva might belong to a different, though similarly large Prionid with long antennae. 

Prionid Larva

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Unknown caterpillar in Guatemala
Geographic location of the bug:  Tikal, Peten, Guatemala
Date: 01/21/2018
Time: 10:53 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi
I ‘d be fascinated to know what this caterpillar turns into. Can you help, please?
The pic was taken at 3am on January 6th in Tikal, Guatemala.  The beast in question was on a tree trunk in the carpark, around 50cm off the ground. It was approx. 40 – 50mm long.
How you want your letter signed:  Thanks, Steve

Skipper Caterpillar

Dear Steve,
Our initial thought was that this must be the Caterpillar of a Skipper in the family Hesperiidae because of the shape of the head.  Skippers are butterflies, but they share many characteristics typically associated with moths.  You may scroll down to an image of a Longtailed Skipper on Tortoise Preserve where it states:  “Like other skipper caterpillars, this species has a large head.”  Your individual looks very much like the caterpillar of a Zilpa Longtail,
Chioides zilpa, pictured on Butterflies of America that were taken in Costa Rica, a country with a much greater online database of insects, including butterflies and moths, than does Guatemala.  If our identification is correct, the adult Zilpa Longtail is pictured on the North American Butterfly Association of South Texas site.  We will try contacting Keith Wolfe to see if he can verify our identification.

Subject:  What’s this wasp
Geographic location of the bug:  Melbourne
Date: 01/20/2018
Time: 05:49 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Wondering what this is
How you want your letter signed:  LB

Bottlebrush Sawfly

Dear LB,
While this Bottlebrush Sawfly is classified in the same insect order, Hymenoptera, as the wasps and bees, it is not considered either.  Unlike wasps and bees, Sawflies, including this Bottlebrush Sawfly, do not sting.

Bottlebrush Sawfly

Subject:  What is this beetle
Geographic location of the bug:  Graaf Reniet, South Africa
Date: 01/21/2018
Time: 12:24 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Found this interesting beetle at the Valley of Desolation outside Graaf Reniet in South Africa. The thorax and abdomen are perfectly round and the legs are grey,  not black. I have not been able to find it on the Internet.
How you want your letter signed:  Andy Smith

Tok-Tokkie

Dear Andy,
This is a Darkling Beetle in the family Tenebrionidae, and we believe it is one of a group from South Africa known as Tok-Tokkies, and according to Urban Ministry Live and Unplugged:  “It is called a tok-tokkie because it communicates with other beetles through tapping on the ground. It is a harmless, good-natured beetle.”  You can find a similar looking Tok-Tokkie on FlickRiver, and similar looking individuals are pictured on iSpot where it is identified as a member of the genus
Psammodes, and in this iSpot image, the gray legs you observed are quite evident.