From the yearly archives: "2006"

Mites on reptiles – another solution
Dear Bugman
After browsing your most interesting and fascinating site I came across “Mites on Reptiles (11/10/2005) and Mite Remedy (12/312005) and would like to add the following. The mites are most probably of the family Dermanyssidae, and are commonly referred to in South Africa as Red-mite because, when the mites are gorged from sucking blood from their hosts, they actually have a red appearance. These mites also live on birds and mammals, and this is usually where an infestation originates from in captive reptiles. For example, there may be red-mite present on mice fed to the snakes, or they may come from birds which have alighted near to the place where the snake is being kept. These mites are nocturnal and hide in small cracks and crevasses within the cage during the day, emerging to feed on the snake at night. However they might also hide under the scales of the snake during the day. When infestations become chronic, the snake will lie in its water dish in an attempt to drown the mite and reduce the infestation. The mite found in the water dish were as a result of this action, and the best way to check for mite is to examine the bottom water dish for drowned mite, or to observe the snake spending extended periods of its time in the water dish. There are many remedies being put forward for controlling red-mite, but I have found the following to be the safest and to work the best. Apply a copious amount of natural seed oil (preferably sunflower or olive oil) to ones hands, and wipe the snake down from head to tail, making sure to wipe the eyes, and under the chin. The advantage of seed oil is that it penetrates under the scales where the mite hide as well as in around the eyes. The oil blocks the breathing pores of the mite and they suffocate and then fall off. If the infestation is severe the oiled snake should be removed to another cage and the original cage sprayed with a pyrethrin based aerosol, taking care to spray all the joints. The cage should be left closed for 24 hours and then left open to air for a further 24 hours. Failure to spray the cage may result in reinfestation after a relatively short time. Do not use just any oily product, such as glycerine, to wipe the snake down with. Best regards Rod Douglas
Herpetology Department, National Museum
PO Box 266, 9300 Bloemfontein
South Africa

Thanks Rod,
We are sure our reptile fanciers will find your expert advice helpful.

Species Identification
My name is Michael Reaid, and I am currently a graduate student at FSU. Unfortunately, my field of biochemistry leaves me with little experience in the entomology world. I was recently (August 2005) in Glacier National Park in Northern Montana on a hike when I came across an interesting caterpillar. I am just very curious to find out what it is. I’ve attached three digital pictures (optimized, to save mailbox space, so excuse the graininess) I took of it on the trail before I moved it aside into some vegetation. I would really appreciate an ID, or being sent in the right direction. Thank you very much!
Michael Reaid

Hi Michael,
Bill Oehlke’s excellent site lists very few members of the family Sphingidae in Montana, but there are three species in the genus Hyles. This is most definitely one of them. The two likliest are Hyles lineata and Hyles gallii. Both species have similar looking caterpillars with high variability. None matches your specimen exactly. We suspect Hyles lineata, the Striped Morning sphinx or White-Lined Sphinx, to be the liklier candidate. We also suspect a green caterpillar has changed color before pupating.

Correction July 8, 2012: 
Today while trying to identify another example of this caterpillar, we discovered that there is now a matching example on The Sphingidae of the Americas website indicating that this is
Hyles gallii, the Bedstraw Hawkmoth.

Do you know what kind of wasp or hornet this is? I live in Maryland and the photo with the ruler isn’t too accurate. I made a better measurement and it was 1.75 inches and the second one I got was just about 2 inches long. I have never seen these where I live up until this spring. I have seen a total of 3 of them but cannot find a nest or anything directing me to where they may be coming from. Please help. Are they aggressive? Thank you.
Arron Deans

Hi Arron,
The Giant Hornet, Vespa crabro germana, was introduced to America from Europe in the 19th Century. The paper nest is usually hidden in a hollow tree or in a building. They are not aggressive, but will defend their nest. According to the Audubon Guide: “It defends its nest from intruders, but otherwise avoids confrontations when possible.”

Spider with blue fangs!!
Here are 2 photos of a spider we found in our backyard. We are in Vacaville, CA (northern). One of the pics shows it’s turquoise fangs and the other shows it’s back. It’s about 3/4 of an inch long. Can you identify it? THANKS!

Hi Robin,
This is a Jumping Spider in the Family Salticidae. We haven’t the time now to research an exact species. If you find the information, please let us know.

I asked a professor at some college in Canada and he told me it was a Phidippus audax. I have included a link to a web page about this spider.

Red Bug
Hello, Daniel & Lisa!
I thought I would inquire about a picture I sent a few days ago about the red bugs who have invaded our lawn. I’ve not seen anything on the site, just thought I’d ask if you knew what they are and what they do? 😉 Thanks,
Darla Tanner

Hi Darla,
Now that you have finally attached a photo that arrived, we have lost your original letter. Your photo depicts an aggregation of Boxelder Bugs. Often they form large masses of adults and juveniles, especially in the autumn. In recent months, due to our site’s popularity, we have been forced to run ads, and help with Boxelder Bugs are always present among the ads.

green moth?
My children and I Iove to look at your site. Thank you for putting it together for the benefit of all! We found a lovely green caterpillar a couple of weeks ago and brought it inside to watch for the day. Before we knew what was happening, it had turned into a Chrysalis using some beet greens I had placed in the container. Well, two weeks later, we found "Rosemary" the caterpillar had turned into "Rosemary" the moth! We gently moved her back out of doors and took this picture. Can you give us any more information about "Rosemary?"
Many thanks.
Tipps Family
Houston, Texas

Dear Tipps,
We have been getting numerous requests for Luna Moth identifications and have been running images constantly on our homepage for over a month.