From the monthly archives: "January 2005"

Toe Biter
HI. I found one of these Water Scorpions dead in my living room and did not know what it was until I found your site. After I found it, I put it in a box with a lid, and the next day when we opened it, it smelled like a dead corpse. Can you tell me why?

Hi Gina,
Your dead Toe-Biter began to smell like a corpse because it is a corpse. Insect collectors preserve most specimens by letting them dry out. If you placed the still fresh specimen in an enclosed space, it could not dry and began to decay, hence the smell. Your specimen appears to be a Giant Water Bug, Lethocerus americanus, and not one of the Nepa Water Scorpions which rarely fly. We are getting a second opinion on the very long breathing tube your photo illustrates, and are unsure if this is an individual anomoly. Your image is beautiful.

what is this bug?
1/4" in length. many legs on each side. somewhat hairy. has a wormlike head that wiggles around, the back end almost looks like wings creeping out from under a jacket. the jacket is light oolored belt around the midsection and the ends are darker. the tummy of the bug is all light colored. they had no visible antenna or tail (through a magnifying glass)…… 4 of these were on one sons wall in his bedroom. one more was sighted in an upstairs bedroom. they are very slow moving, in a slow wiggle sideways. when dropped in the carpet, they burrow down into it. help. thanks.

Hi Jean,
You have a Carpet Beetle Larva, one of the Dermestid Beetles which eat wool and other natural fibers as well as doing major damage to museum collections.

What’s this bug
I recently found many of these bugs in my apartment. It has been raining a lot recently and I’m not sure if that has anything to do with them being inside. I have included pictures of them but they are actually an amber color and transparent. They fly and seem to be attracted to the light. Please help me identify them so I can get rid of them!

Hi Julie,
Eric Eaton wrote to us identifying these images as “brown lacewings (family Hemerobiidae, order Neuroptera). Larval brown lacewings prey on aphids, so they are nice insects to have around.”

Hello, My name is Tara and I have a large bug I need identified. It is about two inches long and an inch across. I can see that it has wings under its outer shell. It only has four legs but has two more things on its head and I didn’t know if they were legs or not. Thank you for your time in looking at my bug and I love your site it is really helpful.
Tara J.

Hi Tara,
Many people react with an “Eeeeewwww” when encountering a Giant Water Bug, also known as a Toe-Biter. They will bite more than just toes, though. Glad you were unscathed.

Insect identification- grasshopper?
Dear Sir/Madam
I live in the UK and found this insect in the packaging of a USB hub, that said it was made in China. Is it possible you could identify this for me. Actual size is 6 cm long from nose to wing tip.
Many thanks
Pat Jones (Mrs) 57yrs

Hi Pat,
Your foundling bears an uncanny resemblance to a group of Katydids known as Cone-heads. She is a female, recognizeable by the large ovipositor on the tail end. Your story helps to explain how often exotic plants and animals often find themselves far from home, and if the conditions are right, they are able to prosper and multiply.

camouflaged caterpiller
This caterpillar was photographed in Atlanta, Georgia on Oct 8, 2004.
Several of these were on a blue mist flower. Their movement was very slow.
The length was less than 1/2 inch. They appeared to be eating the flower or
maybe just biting parts off to put on their bodies. I noticed their
movements while photographing bees and got a few shots of them.. I don’t
know what they are and haven’t been able to find any information on them in
field books or on the web.
I just found your website today and spent quite a while looking at all the
stuff. It’s one of the best bug sites I’ve seen.
Bill DuPree
Atlanta, Georgia

Thanks for the compliment Bill.
We were unsure as to an exact identification, so we turned to entomologist Eric Eaton who wrote back:
“Nice image! Wow! Yes, I have heard of this creature, it is an inchworm of some kind, family Geometridae. If I can dig up more information somewhere, then I will go ahead and send it along.”

Thanks Daniel,
I really apprecite your help. I sort of thought it might be an inchworm. Sometime when you’re not busy, check out my insect photo gallery on pbase. It’s insects and spiders mostly unidentified, especially the flies. Congrats on the Yahoo and the USA recognition!
Bill DuPree

Ed. Note: Several days later Bill wrote back:
Hope you remember the camouflaged inchworm photo. I may have an identification on it: wavy lined emerald moth (Synchlora aerata). Does that seem correct? Thanks,

Hi again Bill,
We did some web research with your new information and found a link with a photograph that looks like you are probably right. Thanks for the update.

Hi Daniel,
Thanks for the link. It does look similar. I just got a book by Thomas Eisner, “For Love of Insects”. The camo behavior is covered in chapter 8 and photos of Synchlora larva are shown both bare and in full dress. Evidently, several species of Synchlora larva camouflage themselves. I did a search for Synchlora to see how many species occurred in Georgia. I found at least 3 (there’s probably more), with the most common one being the wavy lined emerald moth. Most of the bugs I see are the common ones, so I’m guessing this one is too.
Boy, this bug ID business can get hard!