From the monthly archives: "March 2005"

California desert wildflowers have been getting quite a bit of publicity, and not just locally. Our very high rainfall has caused the desert to burst into bloom. Spring break provided the excellent opportunity to slip out of the offices of What’s That Bug? which is currently down due to heavy traffic. Paco the gardener and I headed out to Joshua Tree National Park for an overnight camping trip and photo safari. I shot with a Hasselblad, but luckily Paco also had a digital camera with a macro lens when I spotted this little beauty along with five friends calmly resting on a single plant early in the morning in Queen Valley. The night had been quite cold and the butterflies still had not become active. They posed for several hours. A trip to the gift shop at the national park entrance produced a wonderful book which we quickly added to our library. Butterflies through Binoculars The West by Jeffrey Glassberg is an excellent Field Guide to the Butterflies of Western North America. I knew this beauty was a Pieridid, but wasn’t sure of the species. Jeffrey Glassberg knows. There are excellent photos of the Desert Pearly Marble, Euchloe hyantis lotta as well as subspecies California Pearly Marble, Euchloe hyantis hyantis. The habitat is “open arid regions including desert, juniper-pinyon pine and sagebrush.” It feeds on crucibles.

What this bug?
Hello there,
I was wondering if you could help me identify this annoyance in our household. I’ve had absolutely no luck with other sites. I’ve attached a picture for you take a look. Most of these bugs were sited by old heaters in our basement apartment. Any help would be appreciated!

Hi Rob,
You have Firebrats, Thermodia domestica, a type of Silverfish. It is a domestic species recognized by the mottled pattern. It frequents warm and even hot places, often in boiler rooms and near heaters. This habit leads to its common name.

Cicada Killer? Photos included
We saw this wasp in Vermont on a camping trip in August 2004. It appeared on a large rock. For whatever reason, it did not fly. It was very slow moving, and it stayed in the same spot for a few days. "Cicada Killer" is the first thing that came to mind, but when i got home and looked on the internet I could not find a matching photo. This specimen has white markings, not yellow. It’s thorax and head are black, not brownish. And the legs and antennae are yellow and black. This was the largest wasp/hornet i’ve ever seen. I would say it was close to 2 inches. Can you shed some light as to it’s identity? Thank you for your time.
– Mike V.

Hi Mike,
We wrote to Eric Eaton and he just responded: “My chief suspect is a cimbicid sawfly, Cimbex americana, family Cimbicidae. Behavior fits, as they are slow-moving. They can approach an inch in size, but do not sting. Can bite, though.” Two inches seems rather large and possibly not entirely accurate.

i found this caterpillar outside my house in L.A., and i was wondering what kind of caterpillar it is and if it’s poisonous. thanks.

Hi Stephanie,
Your caterpillar is a Wooly Bear, the larval form of Tiger Moths from the family Arctiidae. Many Wooly Bears are similarly colored. Based on your location, a good bet is the Painted Arachnis, Arachnis picta, a very pretty moth common in Los Angeles. We have photos of the adults on our moth page. The Wooly Bear eats a wide variety of weedy plants including wild radish. It is not poisonous

Baby spiders, bee, grasshopper
Hi! Thought you might enjoy these pix of: newly hatched linx spiders (hard to tell on small picture, but when I zoom in they look just like Mom), cute bee (maybe you can ID this one?), and a big grasshopper on a cactus. Thanks for the wonderful site.
Best Wishes,
Donna in San Diego

Hi Donna,
Thanks for the images of the Green Lynx Spiderlings. Your bee is a common Honey Bee, Apis mellifera and your grasshopper is a Gray Bird Grasshopper, Schistocerca nitens. The females can grow to 2 1/2 inches in length or larger.

Update from David Gracer
Honey Bees
In addition to honey itself, many species in the genus Apis are harvested for bee brood (the high-protein larvae in the honeycomb; the brood harvested from Apis laboriosa is called Bakuti in Nepalese. Notice that evocative Latin name). To the extent that they’re eaten at all, domestic honeybees are consumed almost exclusively at certain Entomology Department get-togethers. While most American beekeepers would shudder at the thought of harvesting their future worker bees as a food source, the larvae are vastly more nutritious than the honey, and from everything I’ve read they’re delicious. One of these days I will have to give it a try .

My husband and I found this beetle in our back yard. I have lived here on the North Coast of Oregon for 20+ years and have never seen one like it. He or she was under our dogs (kiddie) pool. Sorry for the bad pictures!

Hi Shannon,
There is a good reason your beetle was found under the pool. It was probably once in the pool. You have a Diving Beetle, from the Family Dytiscidae and the genus Dytiscus. They can be recognized by their dark brown coloration with yellow along the sides of the prothorax and elytra. They are voracious predators that feed upon tadpoles, small fishes and insect larvae.