From the monthly archives: "January 2005"

alaskan beetle
Found your cool site and wondered if you could identify this beetle. We found a couple of them and several larvae in a pile of dog poop behind our home in Anchorage. It seemed to be an inch long and about .5 inch wide. My wife said it opened up it its wings but did not fly. Its antennae are really wild looking. It dug itself into the grass/ground quickly after turning it loose. Neither of us has ever seen one and both have lived in Alaska all our lives. Thanks,
Mike & Heather

Hi Mike and Heather,
You have a species of Burying Beetle. These beetles eat carrion. I have read that a pair can bury a small mouse in a few hours. A hole is dug under the corpse which is eventually buried. Then eggs are laid on the dead critter which serves as food for the growing larvae. We were uncertain as to the exact species, and Eric Eaton has informed us that certain identification would be time consuming but it belongs to the Genus Nicrophorus.

A Mysterious Scarab Beetle
Hello, my name is Sandy and I am an insect enthusiast from British Columbia, Canada. I have written to your site (which is doing a wonderful service to the public) because I have failed to identify a particular scarab beetle specimen I have found. It and 2 others were collected on the flowers of a fire weed plant outside of Thunder Bay, Ont. in the summer of 2004. The actual size of the specimen in the photograph is roughly 1 cm. Hopefully the enlargement and the given information will aid you in an identification. Many thanks, I anxiously await your findings.

Hi Sandy,
We wrote to Eric Eaton who is a specialist in beetles and he wrote back to us: “This is a species of [genus] Trichiotinus. They are difficult to ID to species without a key. Good mimics of bees, though.” Our beetle guide says they commonly occur on flowers during the day and readily take flight when disturbed.

bug i found
hey i live in australia [south coast] and i was walking along the beach on the hight tide line when i came across this beetle love to know what it is.I took few pics i dont think it was ment to be on the beach.

Hi Matt,
It is some species of Scarab Beetle from the Family Scarabaeidae. Many species are metallic green in color. They include the largest beetles known. You are correct in speculating the beetle probably did not belong on the beach.

Correction:  December 14, 2016
Thanks to a comment, we now know that this is a King Christmas Beetle,
Anoplognathus viridiaeneus, which is pictured on Australian National Botanic Gardens

Update:  February 1, 2017
We just posted the following comment on a Goldsmith Beetle posting, but it should really be included here:  you most likely encountered a Christmas Beetle in the genus Anoplognathus, possibly the King Christmas Beetle or Giant Christmas Beetle, Anoplognathus viridiaeneus, which is pictured on the Australian National Botanic Gardens site where it states: “This is probably the largest of that section of our insects known as Christmas Beetles. It is common in the bushland around Sydney and the north coast of New South Wales. Essentially a summer insect, it appears on the foliage of eucalyptus trees; where one is found you can be certain there will be others on the same tree.” We are very amused at the (now closed) competition held by the Australian Museum to give common names to nine species formerly known by only scientific names. According to the site: “These beautiful bugs are Aussie icons, heralding the coming of summer and Christmas. You might know the three kinds of Christmas Beetle in New South Wales that have common names: the King Beetle, Queen Beetle and the Washerwoman! But the other nine of the 12 species are known only by their Latin scientific names. So, the Australian Museum has run a competition for NSW residents to give common names to the nine nameless festive beetles. … Common names – unlike the Latin names used by scientists to identify species – are part of the everyday lexicon, so whatever is chosen will exist for generations to come.” On a sadder note, the Australian Museum also has a posting entitled “Where Have All The Christmas Beetles Gone?” where it states: “The evidence suggesting a decline is anecdotal yet compelling. In the 1920s, they were reported to drown in huge numbers in Sydney Harbour, with tree branches bending into the water under the sheer weight of the massed beetles. You won’t see that these days, and I’ve never seen a Christmas beetle come to light where I work, next to Hyde Park. While public concerns suggest that numbers are also much smaller in the suburbs, I’ve found at least five species near my home, clustered around street lights at the southern edge of Royal National Park, 55 kilometres south of Sydney.”

My name is Dave and my family and I were taking a tour of a house for sale in Jacksonville, FL when I came across this spider sitting in the middle of a gigantic web in the backyard. I’ve been looking everywhere for info on it and can’t find anything. I’m originally from CA and have never seen anything like it. Would you please tell me what kind it is and if its dangerous?

Hi Dave,
Thank you for the nice image of a Crablike Spiny Orb Weaver demonstrating a brave hand for scale. The spider is harmless, unless you are a hapless flying insect that flies into it large orb web. This spider is common in the South. Our most recent guide book list the scientific name as changed from Gasteracantha cancriformis to Gasteracantha elipsoides. This striking spider was once featured on an American postage stamp.

Orange bug, what is that?
Hi, I’m currently doing a school project on insects when I found this insect in a forest. Can you pls help me identify this insect possibly by this month as my deadline is the end of January? I’m from Malaysia. my friend’s father got it from the jungle in Johor. A jungle in Janda Baik, i think. Do you have any idea what order it is from? I was thinking maybe of a shield bug and perhaps it’s common name? Thank you very much.
Su Yan

Hi Su Yan,
We agree that it is a Hemipteran, but we turned to expert Eric Eaton for additional information. He wrote back: “A book I have (“Bugs of the World”) has an image of similar insects it places in the family Tessaratomidae, the “giant shieldbugs.” That is the best guess I can hazard, being here in the mundane U.S.”

Update:  April 8, 2013
Thanks to a comment from David, we are able to provide some links to images of
Pycanum rubens nymphs.  See Orion Mystery and Nature Loves You.

a Hummingbird moth?? on O’ahu
I photographed this moth on my lanai yesterday and would like some help to identify it. Thanks

Hi Patricia,
Sadly, your moth was moving too quickly for us to be able to give you more than a general identification. It is a Sphinx Moth or Hummingbird Moth of some species. There is a great site that might help you identify your Hawaiian Sphinx. Sphinx Moths enjoy a worldwide distribution.

Ed. Note:  August 5, 2012
We are trying to clean up some unidentified postings and we now believe this is a Hummingbird Hawk Moth,
Macroglossum pyrrhostictaIt is listed as a species found in Hawaii on the Sphingidae of the Americas website, and Dave’s Garden has a nice action photo showing similar coloration and abdominal markings.