From the monthly archives: "May 2005"

hairy green caterpillars on sophora tomentosa
These hairy green caterpillars were on a necklace-pod plant (sophora tomentosa) in Vero Beach, FL which is mid-way up the Atlantic coast of Florida (at the northern limit of the tropical zone). The cats are about 1 1/2 inches long. Since the photo was taken one of them has pupated in a cocoon on the underside of a necklace-pod leaf. Your ID help is really appreciated. I can’t find any references which show necklace-pod as a host plant for any butterflies or moths and haven’t been able to find a match to the caterpillar on the internet.
Keep up the good work and thanks for your help!
Kathleen Scott

Ed. Note: Before we could identify Kathleen’s caterpillars, she wrote back with the following information.

Thank you so much! Unfortunately I didn’t collect the pupa. It is no longer on the plant and I didn’t find any others (of course the cats might have crawled off to pupate in other places). I continued to search the internet and finally got an identification. I’m sorry to be late in telling you. When I went back to your site to let you know there was an odd error message about the site being offline because it had exceeded its allowed number of hits. It slipped my mind to try again later, I apologise. You offer a great assistance to the public and are a wonderful resource.
The caterpillar is a Genista Caterpillar, Uresiphita (=Tholeria) reversalis (Guenee) (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae). The references I found for it were about Arizona, Texas and the Pacific Northwest. In Texas it feeds on mountain laurel, crape myrtle, honeysuckle & laburnum. Other references said that it’s one of the few predators of Scotch Broom, an invasive exotic (legume family) in the Pacific Northwest. Apparently the caterpillar absorbs alkaloids from its host plants & is then unpalatable to predators. The following site states that the caterpillar is in the web-worm family and destructive to trees in Texas. I was very puzzled that I couldn’t find any data relating to the caterpillar as a pest for necklace pod. The moth must be uncommon to Florida. I don’t know how it would have gotten here but maybe there is Necklace pod is also in the legume family so that may be the connection. Necklace pod seeds contain an alkaloid that’s poisonous so maybe the leaves have some too. There appear to be few natural predators (I think the wolf spider is one) for this caterpillar due to the alkaloid absorption. Thank you for your searching and your thoughtfulness in sending the update. Warmly,
Kathleen Scott

Hi Bugman
I hope you are the person who can tell me what kind of bug that I photographed. This striped bug reminded me of a ladybug when it flew but it has stripes instead of dots. I was walking through a marsh area in southeastern Michigan. Any help you can give me would be much appreciated. Thank you.
Cris Music

Hi Chris,
We wrote to Eric Eaton for more information on your Leaf Beetle from the Family Chrysomelidae. Here is what he wrote: “This is indeed a leaf beetle, probably in the genus Disonycha, one of the larger flea beetles. Can’t give a species without running the specimen through a key, but that should get you in the ballpark to find more info.”

insect found in bed!!
Hi! We live in Fort Mohave Arizona. While making the bed today we found this bug.What is it?, it’s about 1" long., with 4 real hard fangs.
Thank you, Shelly

Hi Shelly,
By scrolling down our homepage, you would have found another photo of a Solpugid, also known as a Sun Spider or Wind Scorpion. Clicking the Sun Spider link on the left side of the homepage will give you additional information.

I live in the Bay Area and saw this moth yesterday on the sidewalk. What type of moth is this? Is this moth rare?

Hi Derek,
This is a Polyphemus Moth, Antheraea polyphemus. It ranges throughout the U.S. and is not rare. Because of their large size, they always create a stir when seen for the first time.

black flying bugs
(great!) website and don’t see anything that matches what we have here – Every year about this time (Columbia, SC) we get these black flying bugs – they come in for a week or so and then go away. They don’t bite, don’t really seem to do much of anything except occasionally fly around. I think they are harmless but I’d like to know what they (or their larvae) eat so I know if my trees are in danger. It’s mostly just a little un-nerving to see hundreds of them on your wall (they seem to like the coolness of the brick) – looks kind of amityville horror-esque. I’m sending three photos – one looking down on them, one is a side view (so you can see the yellow abdomin – in this photo they almost look like lightning bugs but they definitely are not), and one is a shot of the wall – all those black spots are these bugs.
Thanks for any help you can provide.

Hi Kim,
We wanted to be sure exactly what type of gnat you are being visited by, so we checked with expert Eric Eaton. Here is what he has to say: “Ok, these are indeed gnats, dark-winged fungus gnats to be exact, family Sciaridae. I don’t know much about the outdoor varieties, but understand they can be overwhelmingly abundant at times. Adults do not bite, may not even feed at all. Eric”