From the monthly archives: "January 2006"

What is that thing?
I found this in the dirt while digging up plants in my backyard. I live in southern Florida. It looks like some sort of cocoon but the articulated part on the opposite end from the big hook can move in all directions. As you can see, it’s a little larger than a ‘AA’ battery.

Hi John,
This is a Sphinx Moth Pupa. If you found it in the tomato patch, it is almost certainly a Tomato Hornworm.

Caterpillar Identification
My name is Kevin. I am from the USA but am studying Spanish in San Jose, Costa Rica, for a couple of months. My class found this caterpillar & have no idea what it is. Could you please help me? I have searched several internet sites but found nothing that seemed to match. It is hard to tell from the pictures, but it is about 4.5 inches long.
Dumbfounded Kid,

Hi Kevin,
Caterpillar identification is often very difficult. At first, we thought there was a resemblance between your caterpillar and the Ficus Sphinx. When we researched Bill Oehlke’s site for close relatives, we found Pachylia syces syces. The caterpillar is said to resemble a Coral Snake and they thrash around and squeak. The species ranges from Mexico through Central America to Brazil and the larvae eat the leaves of various ficus species.

Thanks for helping
Hi, It’s Kevin again, otherwise known as “Dumbfounded Kid”. Over the weekend the caterpillar my class found turned into a chrysalis/coccoon. I have attached an updated photo with a scale for comparison. By the way, I am in 4th grade. What does Pachylia syces syces eat? Thanks, Dumbfounded Kid
P.S. The caterpillar definitely did a lot of thrashing but we never heard it make any sounds.

Hi Kevin,
The adults visit flowers and take nectar.

Tail-less whip scorpion from the Fl. keys.
Dear bugman,
I live in the Florida keys, Key Largo to be exact, and I found what a bug loving friend identified ans a tail-less whip scorpion. We found them in our old wood pile. Me and my sister named it CrabSpidions because they had a mouth like a crab, a plating like a scorpion, and legs like a spider. You’d be glad to hear we avoided killing them because we only kill things that are in our immediate way and seem like a risk. I prefer to keep spiders alive so they can kill pests. We have a collection of what we call air spiders that are similar to daddy long-legs, who eat our ants that invade. Our CrabSpidions varied from half inch bodies, and 2 inch legs, to that one that was a large 1 inch body, and 3 inch long legs. Those are the pics we took. When taking the pictures I did not know that they weren’t poisonous, so I was afraid to get too close. Enjoy, because my bug loving friend was tickled to find me linking the pictures when she woke up over things she really loves.

Thanks for sending in the images.

late summer bugs: baldfaced hornet and ?wasp?
Hi Bugman!
I am avoiding work by sorting late summer photos. I found a photo of a Bald Faced Hornet, sipping from a nectar river. Do you want a photo of it in one of its favorite “soups”? Also, a wasp that I can’t ID. I checked your wasp pages and bugguide – it seems to most closely resemble Blk& Yellow mud dauber or Ammophila, but the coloring is wrong. Its not a focused photo (sorry), but the abdomen was definitely striped. Both photos were taken mid-August 2005 near Chicago. Your site has been like a daily vitamin to me these past few months – the new photo additions remind me of summer!
Jill Anderson, Chicago

Hi Jill,
Thank you for the sweet compliment. We know exactly what it is like to avoid work, one of the reasons we started this website. Your Baldfaced Hornet photo is wonderful and we will see if Eric Eaton recognizes your Mystery Wasp. Minutes later, Eric Eaton responded: ” The mystery wasp is one of the Grass-Carrier Wasps in the genus Isodontia, closely related to mud daubers. This one is Isodontia elegans. Until rather recently, this species was thought to occur only west of the 100th meridian. I sent specimens I collected in Cincinnati to an expert, and he confirmed the ID. Isodontia are easily identified because they are the only common thread-waisted wasps that rest with their wings flared out to the sides like this. Most other, related wasps hold the wings flat over their back when at rest. There are at least four other species in the genus that are widespread in the eastern U.S. Eric “

Butterfly photo
This photo was taken in Glacier National Park, Montana, in August 2005. What type of butterfly is it? Is it a really common butterfly that is all over the US or is it more common in a certain area? (I’m from Florida). I compared it to the photos on your website and it looks like the photo of a painted lady…is that right? Anything interesting you can tell me about it?

Hi Jaime,
You are absolutely correct. This is a Painted Lady, Vanessa cardui. It is sometimes called the Cosmopolitan as it is the butterfly with the most worldwide distribution. This is also a migratory species, though not as well known as the Monarch. It yearly migrates from northern Mexico in huge impressive swarms to repopulate the western U.S.

Juvenile Western Black Widow?
From the information I was able to find on the web, it looks like I may have found a Western Black Widow (juvenile) is it possible to make that determination from the attached photos? Hope they are clear enough.

Hi Scot,
This is a male Western Black Widow. The photos are wonderful.