From the monthly archives: "June 2005"

Just another Dobsonfly Photo…
I live in Central PA near the Conodoguinet creek and the Susquehanna river. I am glad to see the Dobsonfly in our area, as they are proof positive that these bodies of water are doing well. I have been seeing a few each summer. Just one question, how far do these insects travel from water after emerging? We live 2-3 miles from both of these bodies of water. Why would they travel so far? I do have a small drainage stream behind my house. It is only a few inches deep most of the year and has been known to almost completely dry up in long summer droughts. I have seen no signs of aquatic life back there but the drainage field is only at the bottom of my road and I am sure there are things living in there. Could hellgrammites be living in either this small stream or the drainage field? I don’t imagine the water quality is too good in either case due to the fact that they are fed completely by runoff from the local streets and yards. I would think that the levels of miscellaneous chemicals and petroleum products are quite high. I have always been told that hellgrammites need clean flowing water to thrive. Any ideas?

Hi Jason,
Often the old texts have obsolete information when it comes to names and classification, but they often contain valuable observations. Here is something written by Comstock: “Corydalus.–The only member of this genus in our fauna is Corydalus cornutus. This is a magnificent insect, which has a wing-expanse of from 100 to 130 mm. …[The male] has remarkable long mandibles. The female resembles the male, except that the mandibles are comparatively short. The larva are called dobsons or hellgrammites by anglers and are used by them for bait, expecially for bass. … These larvae live under stones in the beds of streams. They are most abundant where the water flows swiftest. They feed upon the naiads of stone-flies and May-flies and on other insects. … When about two years and eleven months old, the larva leaves the water and makes a cell under a stone or some other object on or near the bank of the stream. This occurs during the early part of the summer; here the larva changes to a pupa In about a month after the larva leaves the water, the adult insect appears. The eggs are then soon laid; these are attached to stones or other objects overhanging the water. They are laid in blotch-like masses, which are chalky white in color and measure from 12mm. to nearly 25 mm. in diameter. A single mass contains from two thousand to three thousand eggs. When the larvae hatch they at once find their way into the water, where they remain until full-grown.” So, if you live 2-3 miles from the body of water, my assumption is that they are carried by the wind since they are not particularly strong fliers.

Tyler’s bug
Dear what’s that bug (Bugman),
My 5 year old son, Tyler, is a bug nut and catches everything he sees( catch and release of course) and knows more about bugs than most kids his age. But this one stumped him and me. If you know what it is I would appreciate it . He would think it’s cool. Thanks a bunch
Javier & Tyler

Hi Javier and Tyler,
We don’t want you to think we are uncool. Your bug looks like an Immature Assassin Bug. Watch out for that mouth as it is designed for piercing and sucking. Assassins prey on harmful insects, but will give an unwary gardener or a careless bug collector a painful bite.

red legged purseweb
Great site!!! Thanks for helping me to identify this scary looking spider. Since your ’03 description says this spider is very rare, I figured I’d let you know that they seem to like my yard… We live in Atlanta, GA – in Buckhead to be precise, very close to high rise buildings in an old residential neighborhood. I saw one of these spiders last year, but my baby-sitter squashed it beyond recognition, so I couldn’t really tell what it was. I saw another 2 days ago crawling VERY fast near my trash bins. And, today, one was right up next to the house, crawling right towards me and the girls. Sorry, I squished it. But, with the killed picture and memory, it was definitely the ‘red legged purseweb’. I’ll keep an eye out for the webs. Is it still endangered?? I’ll try not to stomp so quickly in the future.

Hi Margaret,
We have gotten numerous letters in the past week with Red Legged Purseweb Spider sitings. Guess they are making a comeback.

My daughter is thrilled to find these "shiny beetles" every summer on some plants we have in our field. They seem to prefer the milky plants and flock there for the summer months. If you could identify it for us it would be great. We live in central Maine. Thanks for your help.
Tamara Hatt

Hi Tamara,
This is the Dogbane Leaf Beetle, Chrysochus auratus. It feeds on dogbane and members of the milkweed family. They are very metallic in shades of blue, green, copper and brass. When disturbed the beetles will drop to the ground to hide and when caught will exude a foul-smelling secretion.

Unidentified Southern California Spider
My name is Susan, and I have been unsuccessful in determining if the spider in my back yard (see attached photo) has a name or is poisonous. It seems very healthy and well fed, and I’d really rather not kill it, though it scares me and I’m not to thrilled about it multiplying…… Any assistance you can provide would be appreciated.
Susan Castang
Torrance, CA

Hi Susan,
If it wasn’t for that distinctive white stripe, I would have just said you had a harmless generic Orb Weaver, but I thought I would do some web research. I found a site that pictures your spider, and that site originates in Australia. The spider is identified as Eriophora transmarina and was originally Araneus transmarinus. It is still a Garden Orb-Weaver. The site goes on to say that there are many color variations in the species and the white stripe is just one of them. We also have many spiders from this genus in California, as well as related genus Neoscona. They are sometimes very difficult to distinguish from one another. Here are a few possible scenarios for your spider. It is Eriophora transmarina which was introduced from Australia like the Eucalyptus Tree Borer, or it is a native Araneus that also happen to have color variations. Either way, it poses no threat to you and you should let it proliferate in your yard. It will help control flying pests like mosquitos carrying West Nile Virus.

Tiger beetle??
Seen on my office window in Austin, Texas. About three inches long, total length. I am guessing some sort of Tiger Beetle. Hard to tell from photo, but a wild guess from you would be ok. Thanks,

Hi Ron,
Tiger Beetles are usually less than 3/4 inch long. This is a Coreid Bug. Great Photo.