From the monthly archives: "February 2006"

What’s this bug?
First of all, Great Site! My daughter has a biology project coming up soon and I am sure she will find this sight handy. My kids and I always seem to be hatching something in a jar. Well, this was our latest surprise. My boys found the cocoon in the dirt in our back yard. So we stuck it in a jar with some dirt. A few days later they found a different cocoon and added it to the jar and there they sat. First inside, then outside for a while and then back inside. One hatched within in a month or so, some sort of moth. We thought the other one didn’t make it since it had been a few months and there was no sign of life. Then one night my son yelled to me that we had a new family member. That’s what we call them, family members. So, with every new family member comes family photos. Our album is becoming quite extensive. This one was not familiar so I didn’t let them hold it, thought it could bite or sting. We searched through our Audubon Society bug book but couldn’t find anything. So I started looking on line and your site has been wonderful but I still can’t find what it is. Is it a Fly or what? Please tell us more…
Riverside, CA

Hi Nancy,
We just ran a letter concerning a Bot Fly about a week ago, but we only had the pupa and no adult photo. Your photo is the first we have received of an adult Bot Fly or Warble Fly, Family Oestridae. The Larvae are endoparasites of various mammals, most notably rodents like squirrels or rats. Other species are parasitic on deer and a human Bot Fly can be found in Central America. The female fly lays eggs where the host will come into contact with them, and the eggs hatch almost immediately due to the warmth of the hosts body. The larvae then enter the hosts body usually through an orifice and then form fleshy warbles with holes to allow the larva to breath. Thanks for your wonderful contribution. Eric Eaton just provided us with the following information: ” Neat that the bot fly hatched! It is one in the genus Cuterebra, which are rodent and rabbit bots (each species prefers either rodents or rabbits). The adults do not feed, in fact have no mouthparts! Really cool, rarely seen….”

I know the pictures are bad. But I’m hoping you can i.d. this guy (there are actually five on the plant) munching on our silver buttonwood. It’s sort of orange with a darker orange broad band going down the length of its back. It has a creamy colored head. Any ideas? Thank you! I love your site!

Hi Joseph,
Based on assumptions we have made, this could be an Arrow Sphinx, Lophostethus dumolinii, if you live in South Africa. Your photo is of a Sphinx Moth Caterpillar, and we typed sphinx and buttonwood into a google search and came up with a species that feeds on that tree. We found a photo of the adult moth, but not the caterpillar, so we might not be right, especially since we don’t know from what part of the world you wrote.

We figured it was some sort of a Sphinx moth, but we are actually in South Florida. Do you have any other guesses based on our region?

A new web search led us to this bit of information about Silver Buttonwood: “Occasional larval host plant for martial hairstreak (Strymon martialis) butterflies and Tantalus Sphinx (Aellopus tantalus) moths.” Sadly, we couldn’t locate an image of the larva online to verify that it is your caterpillar.

Ecuador Spider
I took a very poor picture of a large, hairy, white spider in the rainforest of Acuador near the Napo River. The guide referred to it as a Capuchin Spider. I know there are Capuchin Monkeys but can’t find anything on a spider by this name. Can you tell me what the name of this spider is? See attached.
Thank you,
Michele Hughes

Hi Michele,
There is a resemblance to the Dolomedes Fishing Spiders, and finding it near a river lends credence to that possibility. Eric Eaton noticed this posting and has this to say: ” Ok, the spiders from Ecuador and Costa Rica: They are most likely NOT wolf spiders, but wandering spiders, either in the family Ctenidae or Sparassidae. They tend to be more common, and even larger than, wolf spiders in the tropics. At least one species, Phoneutria fera, is extremely aggressive, with potentially deadly venom. Do not mess with large spiders in Central and South America! The venomous types are very difficult to distinguish from harmless species, and in any event, a bite is going to be really painful. These spiders sometimes stow away in bananas, houseplants, and other exported goods, so they can show up in odd places. Be careful where you put your hands.”

Update:  May 14, 2013
We now have a confirmation that this is a Wandering Spider,
Phoneutria fera, and it is a dangerous species.  See Encyclopedia Britannica and Animal Corner.

What kind of spider is this?
Hi Bugman!
Attached is a spider that was found at 6 mile lake Muskoka, Ontario Canada. It was 5" sitting. Please tell us…What kind of spider is this?
Thank you.
The Toronto Sun Creative Staff

Dear Creative Staff,
This is a Dolomedes Fishing Spider. They are capable of running across water and diving beneath the surface, and occasionally catch small fish.

Lady bug love
Thought you might like this photo…I assume the Lady bugs (and Guy bugs, too, presumably) aren’t just hanging together for the body warmth. Photo taken near Santa Maria, CA (as is the prior photo I sent a week ago of what I think might be a male black widow?). This area is primarily a large coastal-oak forest where I am. Thanks for the awesome site.
Tom Jolly
Vandenberg AFB, CA

Hi Tom,
Thanks for the wonderful Convergent Ladybird Beetle Aggregation image. According to Hogue, the Convergent Ladybird Beetle, Hippodamia convergens, “is the species most often seen in the garden. It is 3/16 to 1/4 inch long and is either solid red or red with several small black spots …. The Convergent Lady is the most important ladybird used in the biological control of aphids. During the late summer and fall, the adult congregate in great masses in mountain canyons and other cool protected places. Here they hibernate for up to nine months, frequently buried beneath the snow, until the first warm spring days, when they move back to the valleys. While still massed, they are collected by entrepeneurs, who sell them in nurseries for release in home gardens. Specimens sometimes accumulate on beach driftage after having been carried out to sea by Santa Ana winds and drowned while making their translocation flights.”