From the monthly archives: "January 2006"

Mystery caterpillar
Alex’s Mom here again! We love your website!!! Alex found this caterpillar performing tricks at the circus. Actually, it was climbing the chain link fence outside of Cirque du Solieu in Miami. We took him home and tried to research what kind of caterpillar it was so we could scrounge up some food for it. No luck on finding what this is, could you help? It has already formed a chrysalis within 12 hours of our bringing it home. We’re assuming that is why it was up on the chain link fence. Thanks for your help!!!
Alex and his Mom

Hi Alex and Mom,
Sorry to fail you, but we don’t recognize your little critter. It might be a Noctuid Caterpillar, and superficially resembles The Laugher, but it is a different species. We will continue to research.

(02/22/2006) mystery caterpillar emerges as mystery moth
Hi there.
We sent you a picture of a caterpillar not long ago (see attached) and we actually stumped you. So now that the moth emerged today, we wanted to send you pics to see if you could figure out what it is. My son thinks it’s the Ctenucha Virginica. Is he close?? Thank you!
Alex and his Mom

Hi Alex and his Mom,
Though your moth bears a striking resemblance to a Virginia Ctenucha, the caterpillar is very different. We believe to be a Yellow Collared Scape Moth, Cisseps fulvicollis, a much closer caterpillar match.

Correction:  November 28, 2014
We just received a correction that this is an Edward’s Wasp Moth, and we found a matching image of the caterpillar on BugGuide and we also found an image of the adult Edward’s Wasp Moth on BugGuide.

a question abt the value of photos..
Hi bugman,
I have a question about the role of photos in "official records". I just read an article in a local (Chicago) environmental newsletter. There was a nice dragonfly photo and the gist of the accompanying story was that photos can’t be used to document sightings in the "official record". Only specimens. The photographer is opposed to "collecting" in that manner, so her sightings are not being used. Her point (and a review of your website would support her) is that citizen scientists have a valuable role in learning more abt these species and should be considered. Incidentally, the photo was of a possible black-tipped darner, which has never been recorded in IL. The author also had an (unofficial) state first in 2004 with a photo of a "russet-tipped clubtail". Unfortunately (for us) she is a professional photographer, so I doubt she’d share her photos with the rest of us. But… what IF one of your followers sent you a photo that shook the bug world? My primary passion is birding, and thankfully, photos are accepted to confirm rarities (although we have a lot of ruckus going on about the Ivory billed woodpecker right now… DID Cornell see what they say they saw? Of course, if they shot the bird, they wouldnt be getting flak over ID right now. But the collateral flak would be enough to close down the Cornell Lab of Ornithology). Is what she claims true?
Jill Anderson

Hi Jill,
Thanks for bringing up a potentially hot topic. First, we should begin by stating that we are unaware of the Official policy regarding insect sitings. There are government sites with official sitings and unconfirmed sitings indicated. In defense of the scientists, many insect identifications can only be confirmed through physical inspection of the specimen. Official is acceptable by the scientific community which demands facts. Photos, and we speak as photographers, do not tell the truth. Even if a species is identified by the photo, the location cannot be pin-pointed. The possiblitiy of a hoax always exists. Remember the Bigfoot video? Sadly, in today’s world, the only real proof is the thing itself, and often that is debateable. Remember Piltdown Man? I suppose our advice is to celebrate the unofficial sitings.

big black moth?
Hi Bugman,
I am wondering if you can identify a bug for me? It is in a photo that a friend sent me from their trip to somewhere near Puerta Vallerta, Mexico. It looks like a large black luna moth (in shape). It has white markings on it’s forwings, and long trailing hindwings. I am attatching a photo, but it isn’t the graeatest. I’ve searched on line for the name of this insect, which I am assuming is a moth, and I can’t come up with anything. I’d be ecstatic if you could identify it for me!!
Thank you,
Lonna Stauffer

Hi Lonna,
This isn’t a moth, but a Longtailed Skipper, a butterfly in the family Hesperiidae that is sometimes referred to as an evolutionary group between butterflies and moths since they possess characteristics of both moths and butterflies. They are not large, despite the appearance in the photo. Longtail Skippers generally have a wingspan under two inches.

Treehoppers nimphs and stingless Bees
Hello, Daniel
More Treehoppers nymphs (Aetalion) but mutualism with ….stingless Bees !!! Thank you
Danilo Rivas

Hi Again Danilo,
Sorry about the delay, but we found your letter when going through old mail. We don’t know what to make about this odd symbiosis, but Homopterans often exude honeydew, and that must be attracting the bee.

Colorado Springs Beetle
This came crawling along the floor in the basement of our Colorado Springs, CO home. We brought it outside, but it promtply died on our icy deck. While collecting it for transport, it emitted a chemical smell. The smell is quite potent. Is it of the genus Eloedes? Darkling beetle? Thanks for the info.

Hi Ryan,
You are correct. Darkling Beetles in the genus Eleodes are sometimes known as Stink Beetles.

Loved your site, very helpful. A month ago, a moth took its last flight straight to my front door entrance in Israel. I tried to identify it, but I’m not sure, is it Daphnis nerii? If yes, doesn’t it supposed to have purple spots instead of brown ones?

Hi Hilla,
You are correct, this is an Oleander Hawkmoth. Sometimes there is individual color variation.