From the yearly archives: "2005"

Hi. These were crawling all over a silk sweater. What are we dealing with? Here’s another one we caught. (We froze the sweater.) This one is “undamaged”, but not very focused. These things are on the order of 100 microns wide

You have Booklice. According to Hogue they are known as book lice or paper lice: “becaues they are so commonly found scurrying over books and newspapers, especially those stored in damp cellars and garages.” He goes on to write that they are “a cosmopolitan pest for the food industry, households, museums and libraries.”

Longhorn Beetle ?
Hi, it’s dave from Northeast Thailand again. You did such a good job identifing the Owlfly larva I thought maybe you can tell me what this is. At first I thought it was a Longhorn beetle but now I’m not so sure. It doesn’t appear to have any ocelli eyes, just the large compound ones. It’s 4-5 inches long. Thanks for any help you can give me.
Dave Sweetland

Hi Dave,
We are waiting to hear back from Eric Eaton regarding his opinion of your freaky looking beetle.

I’m attaching a front head shot so you can see what a weird looking head this guy has. Thanks again,
Dave Sweetland

Update: (12/30/2005)
Here is Eric Eaton’s conclusion: ” Ah, well, it is much better viewing the beetle image on the website. Not that it helps me ID the thing, mind you! Ha! My initial reaction is: blister beetle (family Meloidae), just going by the “Gestalt” method. The head and antennae sure suggest that, but 4-5 INCHES? I guess it is possible….Anyway, you could start with Meloidae and see where it takes you. If I get anywhere myself, I’ll let you know.” Taking Eric’s suggestion we quickly located Eletica rubripennis on this site.

pretty bug sitting on our screen door
I found this pretty bug sitting on our screen door this July in East-Central Illinois. Overall, it was about 5-6 inches in length. Any ideas what it was?

Hi Kim,
It is so refreshing that you find the Giant Ichneumon species in the genus Megarhyssa pretty. Usually people are horrified at the thought of getting stung. That long appendage is the female’s ovipositor and it is used to deposit eggs in wood infested by boring larvae and grubs. This is a beneficial insect.

Manduca rustica?
I couldn’t find out what kind of caterpillar I had, but with the help of your (wonderful) site I think I found it…The Manduca rustica. My dad found it while digging in his garden planting new flowers. Could you tell me what it eats, and how to care for it? Thank you!!
Mesa, Arizona

Hi Sarah,
According to Bill Oehlke: “Larvae feed on fringe tree ( Chionanthus virginicus ) and jasmine ( Jasminum species ) in the olive family (Oleaceae), and on bushy matgrass ( Lippia alba ) and Aloysia wrightii in the vervain family (Verbenaceae), and on knockaway ( Ehretia anacua ) in the borage family (Boraginaceae), and on Bignonia species like Desert willow ( Chilopsis linearis ) in the Bignoniaceae family. Larvae have also been reported on Tecoma stans, Callicarpa americana, Fraxinus, Helianthus annuus, Heliotropium, Lagerstroemia indica, Lantana camara, Ligustrum japonicum, Ligustrum ovalifolium, Plumeria acuminata, Plumeria alba, Ligustrum vulgare, Sesamum indicum, Syringa vulgaris, Trichostema dichotomum, Annona squamosa, Gossypium herbaceum and Himatanthus sucuuba . The caterpillar has numerous white nodules on top of the thorax and seven pairs of oblique, blue-gray stripes along the side of the body. The horn is white at the base and blue-gray at the tip. Host plants also include Crossvine, bignonias, and various members of the forget-me-not and vervain families.”

ID help
I just recently purchased your calendar for 2006, and the timing couldn’t have been better because now I know where to turn with my rather surprising discovery that a couple of plants in my yard have some visitors. They are green and black striped caterpillars with some white dots, as you can see. There must be about 10 of them on the one plant. I pulled one off for a close-up photo, and he rolled up. They don’t seem to have eaten much of the plant (yet?), but somebody has been eating the purple sage nearby. I assume they’re going to turn into lovely butterflies, so I’m inclined to leave them where they are. But if they pose a problem for the surrounding fruit trees (fig, orange) or vegetables in the backyard, then I might not take as kindly to them. Who are these guys, and what if anything should I do with them? Thanks for your help,
Peter in L.A.

Hi Peter,
We are thrilled you are enjoying your calendar. According to a photo in our Hogue book, Insects of the Los Angeles Basin, this is a Virginia Lady Caterpillar, Vanessa virginiensis, and according to Hogue: “it is scarce in the basin in comparison to either of the other two species. There are at least three members of the genus Vanessa, known as Ladies, and the Painted Lady and West Coast Lady are the two more common species. The Painted Lady, Vanessa cardui is probably the most well known since it is prone to mass migrations. I have seen hundreds of Painted Ladies on sunny spring days in the desert. The caterpillar food preferences of all three species are similar, and include Hollyhocks, Cheeseweed (Malva parviflora) a common weed found in vacant lots, thistles, and nettles. They will not harm your fruit trees. A fourth member of the genus is known as the Red Admiral, Vanessa atalanta, and was a favorite butterfly of Vladimir Nabokov. Leave the caterpillars be and nature will take its course.

What’s this one?
This is a bug I found in my lettuces, I live in New Zealand, any ideas? It was only about 3mm long and jumped like a flea if you touched it, but crawled along the leaf otherwise.

Hi Louise,
You have such exotica in New Zealand. We don’t recognize this creature, but are guessing it is one of the leaf-hoppers in the order Homoptera.

Oo! I found it on the Landcare Research website. It’s a Passionvine Hopper, here are the details so you can add it to your collection! I released it back into the garden, as it didn’t seem to be doing any damage. Keep up the great work.

Hi again Louise. Thanks for providing the link to information on Scolypopa australis, the Passionvine Hopper.