From the monthly archives: "October 2003"

I live in Texas and have always live with (not very well I might add!) what I have always thought were “ASP”. That must not be the “real name” because I can’t find anything on them. They sting like the dickens! Could you please give me more info. on them. They are about an inch long and furry. They tend to hang out on Oak (I think) leaves. THEY STING SOOOO BAD!!!!
Thank you,

Hi Again Julie,
I have finally identified your Asps. It is another name for the Puss Caterpillar. The Puss Caterpillar or “Asp” is the larval form of the Flannel Moth, Megalopyge opercularis. The caterpillars grow to about 1 inch long and are furry in appearance, being completely covered by thick tan to grayish-white hairs that taper toward the back end. Among the long body hairs are shorter spines that discharge venom upon contact. The head and legs are not visible from above. The night-active adults known as flannel moths are rarely encountered. Here is a photo from a great site.

We recently spotted this Tiger Moth, The Painted Arachnis, Arachnis picta, laying eggs on the side of our house. Every night, the moths are attracted to the lights outside. Our Green Lynx Spider has been feasting on them on a regular basis, hence the corpse on the right.

Asps and Wasps, easily confused
I haven’t had my question answered but have seen questions from Sept answered. Do I need a pic? If so, I don’t have one. My question again is below.
We have some bugs in our garage that I would like to know more about. We call them “asps” although I’m not sure this is the accurate name. Our garage is detached from our home not heated/cooled and dark most of the time. We noticed that sometimes they attach themselves to the siding on our house in something sort of like a cocoon. They are small, about 3/4 of an inch, look to be kinda “furry”, gray to brown in color. If you get stung by one it hurts like hell. I was stung on the inside of my forearm and felt pain all the way to my armpit. A call to poison control said the sting affects your lymph nodes and that was the pain I was feeling in my armpit area. The burning is awful and it took me a good 4-6 weeks to get rid of the itch. We think our dog may have been stung by one on the nose and boy did she suffer. Her snout was so swollen her eyes were almost shut and she had a nasty area on her nose at the point of contact.
We’d also like to know if there is anything we can do to get rid of them.
V. Hernandez
San Antonio, TX

Dear Velma,
I doubt that you were stung by an asp, which is in actuality the deadly snake that Cleopatra used to commit suicide rather than to submit to Caesar. Wasps, however, are a different story and actually fit your description. Some species of solitary wasps make a mud nest in protected areas like under the eaves or inside of a garage. They sting, and sensitive people could posibly be affected as long as you state. We are not doctors, so we can’t tell you much about your lymph nodes, and we have no extermination advice, that being a job for your local experts. Sorry for the delay in answering your letter. We truly have been swamped with letters. Thank you for your patience.

I’ve just found your website and I maybe you can help me with the identification of this particular tree- or leafhopper (picture attached). This photo is to be included in the Encyclopedia, and the editor needs the species name . If you know it, please send a message ASAP – I would be MOST GRATEFUL!!!
Best regards,
Wawrzyniec Podrzucki
P.S. Thepicture was taken in Pennsylvania.

Hi there Wawrzyniec Podrzucki,
I’m guessing Thelia bimaculata, a female. Here is a website with images.Good luck on getting in that encyclopedia. Your photograph is beautiful.
Treehoppers belong to the Family Membracidae. They are called Treehoppers because most of the species live on trees and low bushes, hopping vigorously when disturbed. All of the species suck plant juices. Many of the young secrete honeydew like aphids.
Great thanks for answering so promptly. In the meantime I’ve also run the picture through yet another entomological site, and it seems that you are
correct. And you are wellcome to my website for a little more of good quality insect photos.
Thanks again,
Wawrzyniec Podrzucki

Update (01/06/2006)
Here is an excerpt from a letter by Julieta Brambila:
” I printed two images for Mark Rothschild, expert in Membracidae, and he gave me this information: Campylenchia latipes (SAy) is the identification for the message from 10/17/2003, from Wawrzyniec Podrzucki, of a membracid from Pennsylvannia. This image is filed in the section of What’s that bug: aphids, scale insects, leafhoppers, and tree hoppers.”

(01/28/2006) Possible Explanation:
Horsehair worms lead Jerusalem crickets to water?
I read the account of the pond full of drowned ‘potato bugs’ and can offer a possible explanation — There is a group of ‘worms’ (Phylum Nematomorpha: Class Gorgonioidea – unless the systematics has been reworked since I was in school) that parasitize Jerusalem crickets, among other insects and crustaceans. The adults are free-living in freshwater, do not feed, and lay their eggs in the water. The hatched young parasitize an arthropod (and sometimes leeches). They go through multiple molts in the host’s body and do not emerge until they’re nearly adults. They emerge, according to my book, when the host is near water. More than once, I’ve seen a drowned Jerusalem cricket in a puddle of water with the very active horsehair worm that had just emerged. I recall my prof saying that the gordioid worms actually may be able to ‘force’ the Jerusalem crickets to enter pools deep enough to drown them (the Jerusalem cricket, that is), if there were no other water source available, but no one had figured out how that worked. The description of the pile of drowned Jerusalem crickets in the backyard pond your correspondent described is truly impressive — maybe they had a thriving population of horsehair worms in the garden! Your site is truly wonderful —