From the monthly archives: "June 2007"

Orange wasp – interesting abdomen shape and stinger
Hello bug enthusiasts!
While rock climbing in Memorial day Rumney, NH, we spotted this wasp (?) on a backpack clip. It was pretty lethargic and about 1.25 – 1.5 inches long. It’s bright color pattern, curved stinger, and interesting abdomen shape caught our eye. My friend who referred me to your site looked it up but didn’t find a match – he thought maybe it was a pregnant wasp of some kind…any thoughts? Thanks,
Julie (Somerville, MA)

Hi Julie,
Though it resembles an Ichneumon, this is not a wasp. It is a Crane Fly. We have scoured the Crane Flies of Pennsylvania website and believe this is a species in the genus Ctenophora. It might be Ctenophora apicata, or possibly, Ctenophora dorsalis. We will contact the author of the site, Dr. Chen W Young, to see if he can provide a species identification. Here is Dr. Young’s response: “Hi Daniel, The image shows a female crane fly of Ctenophora dorsalis. This female does not have the typical coloration of most of the Ctenophora dorsalis, but as we have leaned that this species is highly variable in their body size and body color (See notes in website However, the shape of the ovipositor on this images shows the typical shape of ovipositor in this species. I hope this answer your question. Thanks, Chen ”

Please Please identify these for me!
These buggers have been devouring my pretty vine (I think it’s an Allamana vine) and I can’t seem to find it in any book. I’d like to get them off my vine as they completely eat it. I need to identify them first though so I know how to kindly get rid of them. I’d like to know if they are moths, bugs or butterfly, so please let me know. Thanks for your help!

Hi Jennifer,
At first your letter had us puzzled as this is an Oleander Caterpillar and we thought it fed solely on Oleander. We quickly realized this must be an error as the moth is native and oleander is not. The Oleander Caterpillar will metamorphose into the lovely Polkadot Wasp Moth, Syntomeida epilais. BugGuide informed us that the caterpillar also feeds on Devil’s Potato or Rubbervine, Echites umbellata, and that is a native vine in the family Apocynaceae. When oleander was introduced, the moth quickly adapted to this new food source.

What kind of bug am I?
These caterpillars have eaten my Fennel Plant. Are they future butterflies?
Donna Magnuso

Hi Donna,
There are two very similar looking Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillars with nearly identical food plants. The Anise Swallowtail, Papilio zelicaon, is found in the Western U.S. The Black Swallowtail, Papilio polyxenes, is found in the east. Depending upon your location, your caterpillar is one of these, though our guess is the Anise Swallowtail.

Moth ID
Hi guys, My daughter Rosie and son Sam saw these moths on our door today…initially we thought they were leaves. We have tried to find a similar image on your site, and although it looks a little like a Pandora Sphinx moth we are not sure. This photo is from Duillier in Switzerland. We hope you can help with the ID. Thanks
Duncan, Switzerland

Hi Duncan,
The Pandora Sphinx does not range into Europe. These mating Sphinxes are Mimas tiliae commonly called Lime Hawk-moths. More information and images can be found on Moths and Butterflies of Europe and North Africa and the UK Moths page. Lime refers to a favored larval food plant, the Linden Tree which is commonly called a Lime Tree.

please identify this bug
Please identify this bug. We saw it on a bike path next to the New River in Virginia today.
Ashby Hopkins

Here are more pictures. I thought it might be a Coach Beetle at first, but it did not have long antenae. Thank you,
Jim Hopkins

Hi Ashby and Jim,
This is a Hellgrammite, the aquatic larva of the Dobsonfly. The winged adult males have frighteningly large mandibles, but they are docile and harmless. The females, on the other hand, will use their smaller mandibles to bite, but a harmless pinch is all that will result.

Wasp eating Monarch caterpillar
I finally found out what was killing my Monarch caterpillars, can you please identify him, I think it is a type of paper wasp. I just moved to southwest Florida and am on my 3d generation of Monarchs in a little garden planted just for them. This little caterpillar was getting ready to form into a Chrysalis on the fence when the Wasp got him. I have found the remnants of them before, but have not caught the culprit. While I love my little caterpillar farm, I won’t get rid of the wasps because I don’t think I can support all of the caterpillars the Monarchs lay on my milkweed. We have a population of Monarchs here year round. I will let nature take its course in my garden. Great site, I love it and have learned quite a bit! Also enclosed is a Potter wasp that changed the color of his pots based on his foundation. Great site, I love it and have learned quite a bit!
Fort Myers Florida

Hi Terry,
Good call on the Paper Wasp. It looks like Polistes annularis as pictured on BugGuide. Regarding the Potter Wasp, we doubt that this was a designer choice based on reading Martha Stewart. More likely the mud that was available at the time had a different coloration. This might be Zeta argillaceum, also pictured on BugGuide, but your photo isn’t detailed enough to be certain.