From the monthly archives: "October 2004"

I was really hoping to find my mystery spider on your page. Since it was not there, Here it is! Please help. This one is really ugly (beautiful?) — scary looking (since I have 3 small children). Thus, I felt compelled to put it to rest after taking the photos. I have lived in Salt Lake, Utah area for 7 years and have never once seen anything even resembling this spider. Further questions are: I’m assuming since I have seen one, and it appeared mature (about the size of a walnut when curled up, the butt (abdomen, thorax?) is about the size of a garbanzo bean.) there must be more around. I have lived in this house for 7 months and this is the first I have seen of this type of spider. It was outdoors. Should I expect to see more of them or is this a unique situation. Does it live underground? In trees? Fields? Anyways. I guess any information you could give me on it would be helpful and once identified I could do some research on my own.
IT appears to RESEMBLE a verrucosa type. But the legs appear much "healthier" in size. After reading everything on your site I feel bad about "getting rid of" it. I was in a hurry and didn’t want it to get away if it was dangerous for my children. Please forgive me.
B. Clark
Salt Lake City, Utah

Hi Benjamin
First, I must appologize for the lengthy delay. Sometimes we can identify something quickly and other times a very circuitous route brings us to an answer. Just yesterday, I got a letter from young Nicholas inquiring about a Catspider. I had never heard of it. His dad wrote back thanking me and providing a link that lead to the identification of your spider, Araneas gemmoides, the Cat Faced Spider. Here is Nicholas’ dad’s letter:

(01/20/2005) Dear Bugman, What my son is referring to is a Cat Spider, aka Cat-face Spider, and what this site is calling Araneus gemmoides. There are never very many, but we occasionally get one living on our porch. They create big, beautiful and strong orb webs. As a kid, we called the one on our porch a “pet”. I seem to remember hundreds of baby cat spiders hatching all at once. We will be sure to send you a picture if we see another one this coming summer. Thank you for taking the time to answer my son’s questions. He’s a bit of a young spider & bug fanatic, and always has at least one tank (usually more) with a spider inside – he even kept a black widow for about 3 weeks over the summer, which was both fascinating and scary for us as parents.
Best Regards,
Nick’s Dad

What is this???
Hi. I found this odd creature in my Mom’s house in NE Nevada. No one there seemed to recognize it. It looks fierce and was rather aggressive. Seems to have 10 legs, five on each side. What is it????
T. Stewart

Dear T.,
You have a Solpugid, a type of arachnid. Though their common names are Sun Spider and Wind Scorpion, they are neither, but related to both. They are not poisonous. They are aggressive hunters and will quickly dispatch any small arthropod they encounter.

I couldn’t find this one on your site.
Dear Bugman,
I would like to know what this bug is. My location is Sugar Land, Texas. The length of the two bricks total 6 inches. The 4 inch long needle like stinger is the most alarming part of the bug.

Hi John,
You have one of the Giant Ichneumons, Megarhyssa species. The female has a long ovipositor that she uses to lay eggs deep inside wood that is infested with wood boring grubs. They young Ichneumon feeds on the grubs. Though she is a wasp, the female Ichneumon doesn’t sting, despite the formidible looking “stinger” which is like an egg-laying syringe.

Is this a Tarantula Hawk
I have seen this Giant wasp ouside my house (In Southern Orange County) a few times now. I need to know if it is a danger to my 2 year old son as he loves to play out on our patio. I took a picture of the statue with a C sized battery so you can get an accurate size description as I tend to over exaggerate things a bit.

It sure does look like a Tarantula Hawk, but the photo is too far away to be certain. Tarantula Hawks have black bodies and reddish-orange wings. Females are not aggressive, but will sting painfully if provoked.

San Jose Spider
I found this spider in my back yard in San Jose, it’s very pretty but a bit scary for me. Can you tell me what it is? I hope it stays outside and doesn’t try and get inside now the days are cooling down.
Carolyn Cable

Hi Carolyn,
You have one of the Argiope Orb Weavers, Argiope trifasciata, the Banded Garden Spider. This genus of spiders is harmless, though might bite if provoked.

REF: Beautiful Unknown Caterpillar (10/05/2004) What’s That Bug?
Hi Daniel!
I think the Aldermans’ “Beautiful unknown caterpillar” is a Pseudosphinx tetrio (Tetrio Sphinx Moth) we get them all the time in our garden feeding on our Plumeria trees (Frangipani) and sometimes on the ficus. They are really ravenous feeders. I am sending you a picture of a bunch of them collected by my kids (to save our trees), they love to see them pupate and later become moths , which they release back in the garden. More information can be found on this site By the way, great site.
Erika Schwarz Wilson
Istana, Barbasquillo
Manta- Ecuador

Thank you so much for help in the identification Erika. Please keep sending us photos from Ecuador.