From the monthly archives: "July 2003"

I have grown tomatoes for many, many years and this is a first for me. I have enclosed a picture. Can you identify the larva/pupa? that is building the cocoon on my tomato? Good bug – bad bug? Thanks so much for your help.
Pat in Ida

Dear Pat,
That is one beautiful tomato. The caterpillar might be an Omnivorous Looper, Sabulodes aegrotata which matures into a medium sized rather pretty moth, however they are still garden pests. They defoliate my mint plants every year and also eat the leaves from my roses. As their name implies, they eat most any plant. They are very abundant in city gardens. During the day, the caterpillar hides in a loose webby shelter that they spin in a leaf fold, or between leaves, or in your case, on a ripe tomato. They will probably not chew the tomatoes, just the leaves.

Dear Bugman,
I was so thrilled to have a coworker identify this Hellgrammite and that I actually found your site to get further information. I live in the Harrisburg area and was quite amazed by this beautiful but scary thing perched on a patio chair around July 19. I thought this picture really showed him off well. He hung out a few hours on the back of the chair (I wasn’t about to chase him away!) and snuck away at some point. He was FOUR inches, and we live at least a mile away from the water (Susquehanna River and also Yellow Breeches creek), so I guess he lost his way. . . Thanks for being there

Dear Pat,
Wow, thanks for the awesome photo. We have recently gotten many letters, and most with photos, of Dobsonflies. We are soon going to update the website with a gallery of them. I can’t wait to post yours. He is a male, hence the enormous jaws. Thanks again.

Can you identify this little guy for me?

Dear Karen,
It might be a Great Spangled Fritillary, Speyeria cybele, whose spiny caterpillars feed on violets. The butterflies are beautiful and well worth sacrificing a few viola.

The little guy hasn’t eaten much…….it seems well worth it……

(7/5/2003) Dear Bugman,
Thanks so much for the fast reply, and you were right on target (even if I did throw in the bit about the teeth – – I’m a professional writer – – what can I say – – ). I’m delighted to discover that he is a Giant Swallowtail. I’ll nurture him and let him eat my lemon tree as much as he wants! I had continued to research last night, and I had mistaken him for a “horned” catepillar from Cuba (the photo was very similar). Perhaps this is why he didn’t respond to Spanish when I spoke to him!
Thanks again for your assistance. Your site is gret!

Editor’s Note: We lost Sarah’s original letter, which had a crazy exaggerated description. Here is a photo of an Orange Dog though.

I found this beetle dead at Angel’s Gate art center in the Point Fermin Area of San Pedro, Calif. Could you please help me identify it. Latin name, common name and something about its life style. This is the first time I have seen this beetle. Thank you.

Dear Yvetta,
Thanks for sending in the photo. Your specimen is a Eucalyptus Long Horned Borer, Phoracantha semipunctata. They were probably introduced to California in 1982 near El Toro, and it has steadily moved throughout Southern California. The grubs bore into Eucalyptus trees, often weakening them. They are considered a pest.

Thank you so much. It was a new one to me. I will be on the lookout. We will put it in the collection.

Ed. Note: We just received this information:
(08/09/2005) identifications Hello –
I was recently shown your site, and it is excellent. My specialization is longhorned beetles, and in cruising around I notice a number of incomplete or uncertain IDs for this family. I don’t know if you are interested in receiving this sort of input, but if you are, I offer the following additions to your identifications.
The eucalyptus borer in this photo (and also shown elsewhere on one of the other pages of your site) is Phoracantha recurva, nor P. semipunctata. Both species now have become well-established in California. Cheers.
Frank Hovore

Dear Bug Man,
A half an hour ago I woke up to find a palmetto bug on my leg. After nearly breaking my hand on the wall throwing it (and it felt sticky), I got up (couldn’t sleep after that repulsive incident) and noticed the area on my leg where the roach had been was very red. Then about 6 bumps (like mosquito bites, almost) appeared in an oval configuration about an inch long. One of the bumps was long (about half an inch) and thinner than the rest. My question is do these things bite? I immediately jumped on the internet to look for an answer, and most sites state that they do not. But the redness/bumps on my leg seem to indicate otherwise. That thing must
have bitten me. Should I be worried? What should I do?
Thank you
Stefanie in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Dear Stephanie,
All the information I have ever read agrees with the internet, that Palmetto Bugs do not bite, however, it could still have been responsible for your skin irritation. People will sensitive skin might get pricked by the spines on their legs, and this could have happened when you grabbed it, something like a contact dermatitus. It could also have been a psychosomatic reaction to the repulsive incident.

Thanks for the response…it definitely wasn’t in my head…still have the red marks. YUCK!
Thanks again,
Stefanie H.

Needless to say, we were all freaked out here at work when we saw this one. One of my coworkers found your site and we were finally able to name it. I thought this one came over on a boat from some foreign country… Nothin like anything i’ve seen before.
Thanks for the help!

Thanks for the amazing photograph.