From the monthly archives: "September 2005"

Help in Identifying a bug
Hi, my name is Jonathan Tindal and I need help to indentify an insect. I live in Australia (Adelaide) and Iv’e never seen an insect like this before. I got lots of Photos (5 mega pixel) but a lot turned out a bit blurry; but I will send you the best one attached below. It has the back of a wasp with 2 stingers, 2 antennas, ant nippers, little claws like a crab and small wings. I checked Austrlaia’s csiro but can’t find it. Your help would be appreciated Thank you
Jonathan Tindal

Hi Jonathan,
Nice to know there are Mole Crickets down under. These subterranean dwellers are also capable of flight, and they are excellent diggers.

identify caterpillars
Can you help us identify these caterpillars? My daughter would like to try to keep them until they form a butterfly or moth. I need to find instructions on how to do this as I assume they are the kind that overwinter somehow. We live in Illinois and found them in our yard feding on the weed (picture of this also attached). They look like Catalpa moths, but we don’t have any catalpa trees in our area, and they are feeding on this weed, not a tree. If you can give us instructions for overwintering that would be great also, but even if we just have an identification, I can do some web research.

Hi Deanne,
You should be able to find all you need to know about raising White Lined Sphinx Caterpillars, Hyles lineata, by visiting Bill Oehlke’s site.

potato bug
i was moments from asking you to please help me identify my completely unknown beetle. i had scoured (almost) your entire site (awesome) and couldn’t match it up. i decided to check one more time before submitting my question and looked at the first paragraph… lo and behold. anyway, thanks for the great site… and all the good potato bug pictures. i’ll send my pictures because i didn’t see any pictures of the underside… if you want to include it.
salt lake city, ut

Hi Steve,
Thanks for the cute belly-up view.

Here are two photo’s from Venray the Netherlands.. Was enjoying my little homegrown wheed when suddenly these two came flying by.. Just had to take their picture, as they were making love right under my nose, little perverts. Perhaps something for the buglove page, but what i’d like to ask is why the male (bottom) is sticking it’s face up the girl’s butt? Is there some kind of smelly spot there he likes? I see this behaviour one multiple of your hosted photo’s and was just wondering if the little creeps have the same behaviour as humans..
Best regards

Hi Fred,
Though quite logical, there are a few errors in your observations. First, and most importantly, you have mixed up the sexes. The female does not really have her head in the males butt, but he has grasped her head with his anal claspers. Here is a great explanation of the dragonfly mating activity from a wonderful site. “It takes newly emerged adult dragonflies a number of days to become reproductively mature. Since males generally mature faster than females they usually arrive at the breeding grounds first. In the period of time before females arrive the males stake out territories that they defend from males of their own and other species. The size of a dragonfly territory depends on the species and on the density of males in the breeding ground. Generally speaking, the larger the species the larger the territories and the more densely populated the area the smaller the territory. Dragonfly mating behaviour is quite elaborate and can take place either in flight or on a perch. Just prior to mating males must transfer sperm from their reproductive tract to special accessory genitalia. Once this is done males then chase flying females and grab them by the thorax with their legs. After a male has caught a female he then curves his abdomen towards her and latches onto her head with a set of special posterior abdomial appendages, called anal claspers. These claspers maintain a firm hold on the female and they can even at times dent her eyes. The male then releases his legs so that the pair remains attached in a head to tail position, often referred to as the tandem position. The female then bends her abdomen towards the male until her primary genitalia come into contact with the male’s accessory genitalia. This position is often referred to as the wheel. Dragonflies often assume this wheel position while still in flight which is quite an acrobatic accomplishment. While in this position sperm is transferred to the females’ reproductive tract via the male’s penis. In some species the males have a specialized penis that is designed to scrape out any sperm that already exist in the female’s reproductive tract from previous matings before sperm from the current mating are transferred (Thompson & Dunbar 1988). This adaptation helps to ensure that the last male to mate with a female is the one who’s sperm fertilizes most of her eggs. It is, therefore, important for males to make sure that no other male mates with the female before she lays her eggs. As a result many male dragonflies guard their mates until they have laid their eggs (McMillan 1991 and Thompson & Dunbar 1988). In some species the male even maintains his grasp on the female until she has finished laying her eggs, while in other species the male simply guards his egg laying mate by hovering over her. Once the female has laid her eggs the pair go off in their separate directions. All unreferenced information was gathered from Askew 1988, Corbet et al. 1960, and Walker 1958. “

Please tell me what these are and if I should be concerned about small children in the area. They have been hanging out on a wood pile of recently cut trees. As you can see they have a long spikey tail, some have purple wings and some don’t. They sometimes swarm if you get too close. We call them freaky bugs cause they are freaking us out! Please help.
Southeastern Pennsylvania

Hi NC,
This is a Giant Ichneumon in the genus Megarhyssa and it is a beneficial insect, not at all dangerous to you or your children. They are parasitic wasps that do not sting. Eggs are laid deep in the wood where the larval food source, wood boring insects live. Your wood pile must be infested with wood boring insects to attract such a hoard of Ichneumons.

My children and I live on Fort Huachuca in southern Arizona. We found this amazing grasshopper next to our mailbox and we were hoping you could tell us more about it! It is about 3 inches long and the underside of its wings is a bright orange-red color. We enjoyed looking at all the other hoppers on your site trying to find it thank you SO much!
Yours Truly,
The Thomas Family

Hi Thomases
We wanted to get and expert opinion on your exact species of Lubber Grasshopper, so we wrote to Eric Eaton. Here is his response: “It is the Horse Lubber, Taeniopoda eques, a common species in southern Arizona, but randomly distributed in any given year. We haven’t had any in Tucson for several years. Eric “