From the monthly archives: "September 2003"

Hello, I was wondering if you could tell me what this bug is. A description of it would be, black body, weird shaped, hind legs are yellowy brown, the waist is very very slender, then rounds back out at the rear end. Has a stinger looks like, transleucent brownish blackish wings. eyes that look like they are to big for its head. about 1/2 inch long, maybe just a tad longer. and relatively long antennae. Was also wondering if you could possibly give me more info on it, like its diet, habitat, and such, or possibly another site to go to for this info. It is for a bug project. Thank you so very much for any help. By the way, your site, as far as I have seen is the best for finding out types of insects. I greatly appreciate it, helps alot for things like school work.

Dear Jennifer,
Thank you for the compliment. Most of the photos we post have been taken by our readers, and we unfortunately have none of mud daubers. Though we are trained photographers ourselves, it seems like we don’t have much time to take photos of insects because of our busy teaching schedules and the time we spend updating our website and answering questions. Mud Daubers is a general classification as well as the common name for wasps from the family Specidae. It is a large family with over 100 species. The subfamily Specinae are the thread-wasted species. Two genuses Sceliphron and Chalybion are commonly called mud daubers. They construct their nests of mud and provision them with spiders, though different species are known to prefer different food inlcuding caterpillars, grasshoppers, flies, and others. There are several cells about an inch long and the nests are found on the sides and ceilings of buildings. The nests are usually filled with spiders or insects which have been paralyzed by a sting. When the young wasps hatch, they resemble grubs and they have a fresh supply of comatose spiders to eat. Neither of our common mud daubers fits your description. Sceliphron caementarium is blackish brown with yellow spots, yellow legs, and clear wings. Chalybion californicum is metallic blue with bluish wings. It sounds like neither is your insect.
Here is a nice site:
which has a wasp that fits your description called Isodontia auripes. Here is a photo. Let us know how your project turns out.

I found your web page while looking up information on stink bugs. I moved into a 14 year old house last November. In the spring I washed the windows and sills. (Crank out windows) When I opened the windows, lots of dried grass was in between the window and the frame. I opened a window this week (had not been open for 2 to 3
weeks) and lots of grass dropped from above. I looked up and there was a brown stink bug. Are they nesting in between the windows? How can I discourage this? Thanks for your assistance.
Kathleen Lemke

Dear Kathleen,
Although stinkbugs can get into the house and occasionally become pests, they will not make nests of any form when they are there. They grass came from some other source, maybe mice or just the wind.

My 8 yr old Daughter has been collecting different bugs, and such since we moved to Sierra Vista, AZ. Her latest are in the attached photos. both fuzzy, and two are blackish brown while the other one is orange-yellow.
THank You, RC

Dear RC,
The brown caterpillars are a type of wooly-bear, the larvae of a group of moths known as Tiger Moths,
Family Arctiidae. The exact species is difficult to determine, but it could be a Vestal Tiger Moth,
Maenas vestalis, the moth of which is white with conspicuous red forelegs, a Painted Arachnis,
Arachnis picta, the moth of which is beautifully marked with grey on white forewings and red
hindwings, or it could be another Tiger Moth. The yellow caterpillar is also a wooly-bear, perhaps Spilosoma virginica. Both are general feeders and shouldn’t be too hard to keep alive until they pupate, which they will do inside of a cocoon composed of their own hair. The best way to determine the species of the caterpillar is seeing what the adult moth that emerges looks like.

have an infestation of bugs on my willow tree. They are dark gray with black spots and shaped kind of like a light bulb. The narrow part at the head. The back legs are longer than the front and they have little antennae. There are thousands clustered together. Can you tell me what they are and how to treat them?
Kim Kincaid
Aloha, OR

Hi Kim,
Sorry about the delay. I believe you have Giant Willow Aphids, Pterochlorus viminalis. This is a large species, reaching about 1/4 inch. It is gray with black spots, short black horns on the abdomen and a large tubercle in the middle of the abdomen. It feeds in large, compact colonies on the trunks and branches of willows often near the ground, and when disturbed has the habit of kicking the hind legs back and forth above the abdomen in a very energetic manner. This habit is common to all the individuals of a colony and is probably a means of warding off natural enemies according to Essig. Try your local nursery for a treatment. Here is a site with great information and photos.

Dear WTB,
I found myself in a debate over the Labor Day weekend as to whether or not Los Angeles’ famous creepy crawlers are in fact cockroaches. My friend who grew up in New York kept referring to them as water bugs. As a life-long Southern Californian, I say la cucaracha! What do you say? Oh, and I’m refering to both the small brown ones and the big black ones. I tried to search online for a photo but I got too ooged out to continue. Oh, and is it true that the cockroackes will rule the earth long after we’re gone?
curiously strong in silver lake

Dear Curiously Strong.
Cockroaches never gave up the earth. If you want to really be creeped out, just try watching the film Mimic (soon to be posted as a review on this site). Yes, those waterbugs are roaches, in fact the Oriental Cockroach, Blatta orientalis. We have a roach comparison photo on our roach page.

hi again
thanks a whole bunch for taking your time to research that bug for me. the picture and description of the bug you sent fit perfect. anyway you guys are
great and thanks again

My son came in with a huge green caterpillar with big orange horns last night. It was probably 5-6 inches long and 3/4 inch thick. It extended across his hand. Looked like one of those chinese dragons.
He had been out in his jeep earlier and thought some how it had gotten in the car, for later when he was standing by the car, it crawled across his foot. We have never seen anything like it. Do you have any ideas?
Thank you, J.Hansel

Dear J.
It is the caterpillar of the Royal Walnut Moth,Citheronia regalis, which has the largest caterpillar in North America. The caterpillar, which your son found goes by the common name of Hickory Horned Devil. Please send a photo, we would love to have it. The moth is also quite beautiful. It has olive colored upper wings with red veins and yellow spots, orange red hind wings with yellow spots, and a reddish body with yellow bands.

Thank you for the quick answer. We took it to the zoo and found out you are correct. Such a thrill to see it. A couple of years ago I had a similar thrill I could share with the grandchildren. I captured a huge moth that was a big as my husbands hand. It was a soft tan color with pink designs in the wings. When I let it fly it looked like a bird going over the house. I remember looking it up but I forgot what I found . I feel the Lord truly blesses us when we see these things up close in their own environment. You know that you will never have the same experience again. Thank you for your help, Judy Hansel
P.S. I did get pictures with my new digital camera. When I learn how to send it I will send you the picture.

I’m glad we could be helpful Judy,
Don’t forget to send the photos when you have a chance. We would love to post one with your letter. The moth you found years ago is a member of the family Saturnidae, the giant silk moths. Based on your color description, I would guess probably an Ailanthus Silk Moth, though it could also be a Cecropia.