From the monthly archives: "September 2003"

Dear Mr. Bugman,
I live in northern Connecticut. Yesterday morning I noticed from a distance what I
initially thought was a dragonfly over my lawn. Upon closer inspection, I was totally amazed by something I have never in my life seen before. It looked like a GIANT yellow jacket. It was 4 1/2 to 5 inches long. The abdomen on it was black with bright yellow stripes and shiny, just like a yellow jacket. It flew around close to the ground for a few seconds, then disappeared into a hole in the ground about 1 1/2 to 2 cm. wide. I noticed quite a bit of dirt thrown around the outside of the hole, apparently from it digging its nest out. It wasn’t aggressive, as when the dog tried to sniff at it (I pulled him back in a hurry!) it just kept looking for its nest. I do keep honeybees within 30 feet of where this thing is making its home, and I’m hoping whatever it is, it is no threat to them as real yellow jackets are. Any information you can provide will be sincerely appreciated.

Sounds like a Cicada Killer, Sphecius speciosus, a large (though not as large as you indicate) solitary wasp that preys on cicadas and burrows in the ground. It will not harm the bees.

Hi Bugman!
(Awsome site, BTW)We have new visitors in our yard (and in my camper). Large cylindrical bees or hornets, nearly 2″ long, black with three white stripes. They look like WWII fighters patrolling over London whenever you get near. Help! I’m ready to give them my tractor AND my camper!
russ therrien
hollywood, MD

Hi Russ,
I’m guessing Bald Faced Hornets, Dolichovespula maculata. These are social wasps that build a large paper nest from regurgitated wood pulp. The nests can be over a foot across that can contain 10,000 hornets. They are aggressive and do not like intruders near the nest and they will sting painfully, swarming and chasing the perpetrator. Unlike bees which die upon stinging, hornets can sting multiple times and live to tell. I hope you don’t have fields to plow or rubber to burn in the near future. I think your tractor and camper are lost to you until the frost which will kill the workers, but the queen hibernates and begins a new colony in the spring.

Hey, my friend found this weird nest/cocoon thing in his shed and its really weird and if you could tell us what its from thatd be great. Its grey and its made of like mud and clay and on the inside it was full of dead house was made in the secind story of his shed, and it was stuck to the side of the wall. the top was rounded with a closed hole and on the bottom there was an open hole. the walls are about about 3mm thick. the flies look like there trapped in some kind of webbing, but not.We live in a small town in Ontario canada. Were about an hour from toronto. Thats pretty much it. If you could get back to me as soon as possible thatd be great casue this thing is really gross and creepy. Thanks.
James and Shannon

Dear James and Shannon,
You found the nest of a mud wasp. Your wasp prefers flies as food. I have a mud nest from the black & yellow mud dauber, Sceliphron caementarium. on my back wall and will post it with your letter in the near future. They generally sting spiders to fill the nest, then lay eggs on the paralyzed spiders and when the young wasps hatch, they have a fresh meal, eating the comatose spiders alive.

Hercules Beetle/Rhinoceros Beetle
(9/1/2003)  What’s this Beetle
My husband found this on one of our tomato plants this weekend. I have been searching the web trying to identify it but haven’t had any luck. We are located in Claremore, Oklahoma.
Thanks for your help

Rhinoceros Beetle

Rhinoceros Beetle

Dear Teresa,
You have taken a beautiful photograph of a male Hercules Beetle, Dynastes tityus. We have only received photos of dead ones in the past which can be viewed on our beetle page. The female does not have horns. Sometimes they are called Unicorn Beetles or Rhinoceros Beetles depending upon the author, but our latest sources credit the common name to be Hercules, though the scientific name remains the same. A larger species is found in the West, Dynastes granti. Adults are reported to feed off the sap of trees , especially from the Ash family, and to eat figs, while the grubs eat leaf litter and rotten wood. Some great photos of mating couples of D. granti can be found on this site:
These are reportedly the most massive beetles in North America, though some Stag Beetles may be in contention for the record. Here is a photo of Dynastes tityus on a postage stamp issued in the U.S. in 1999.

U.S. Postage Stamp

U.S. Postage Stamp

Thank you so much for your response.  My husband ended up moving him the next day to a vacant field across the road because he found him on the ground in front of my barn and was afraid my horses would step on him and crush him. I hope he has a very long and productive life. I have never in my life seen a Beetle quite like him.
Thanks again
I think you forgot to include the web address. My husband would really like
to see the picture of the postage stamp. Thanks again.

U.S.  Postage Stamps

U.S. Postage Stamps

Here is the entire sheet.

I have a home on Dauphin Island, Alabama. Over Labor Day weekend, we discovered on of the most beautiful flying insects, unfortunately we had no camera. It had two black wings (almost blue they were so black) with three white dots on each wing, perfectly matched. The body was a typical insect body,k thick black with a vivid, very red tail. It was about an inch long and about an inch and a half wide. we didn’t get close enough to see if there was a stinger!! These insects had quickly built at least three black web-like nests. I noticed them flying in and around our palm trees and oleanders. What could they be and are they destructive? I have been looking in web-site after web-site and can find nothing close. Thanks for your help.
Paul Weaver

Originally, we thought Paul might have had a peach tree borer or perhaps a species of damsel fly, but we were never convinced and decided to do more research. Then we got Lyn’s letter and have forewarded the response and photo to him.

I need your help please. Where I live in California, my house in like in the middle of a field. With some trees around the house and for grass it’s all dried old weeds no green grass! We just started cleaning the yard (field) up and besides wolf spiders, and earwigs and ants etc. we’ve noticed a lot of these bugs that fly leap from the weeds and trees. I want to call them ticks but I haven’t found a tick picture that looks like these. They are brown and also bright neon green. The body is hard and the head is like a triangle. Please help me soooooooon if you can. Thanks.
Up to my knees in bugs.

Dear Knees,
You are being bothered by leaf hoppers Family Cicadellidae or spittle bugs Family cercopidae, both of which will feed off the sap of plants but will not harm people. Spittle Bugs leave frothy foam on plant stems that resembles spittle and serves as a shelter for the feeding nymphs.