From the monthly archives: "October 2007"

Hello, Daniel!
Well, I was thrilled to think I photographed my first-ever painted lady. I’m puzzled, however, because t his pretty butterfly, found yesterday, in a Connecticut garden, does not quite match painted lady pictures shown on your site. A variation, perhaps? Many thanks!
Susan B. Naumann

Hi Susan,
This is a different species of Lady, the American Painted Lady, Vanessa virginiensis. BugGuide has an excellent upper wing comparison with the cosmopolitan Painted Lady, Vanessa cardui. There are two large “eyespots” on the under surface of the lower wing of the American Painted Lady.

Alaskan Backyard ‘Bugs’
Hi! You guys are my new heros! I love the site and I don’t know how I’ve missed it before! I am going to be a regular viewer from now on! Without going through ALL your pix I thought you might like these to do with what you will. I am an amateur bug enthusiast (with only a BFA) that has been fortunate enough to periodically get gigs designing exhibits revolving around arthropods. (LA Zoo’s ‘Spider City’ is one of my designs, as is Santa Barbara Zoo’s ‘EEW’ (not my title)). Another exhibit that you may find amusing (it’s my personal favorite) can be found at . It’s cool (in more ways than one) to be able to design from my little studio on the bluffs overlooking Kachemak bay here in Homer, Alaska, then head down to the float plane pond to look for fresh water invertebrates then cruise over to the beach to check out the intertidal inverts. With a tidal range of 27 feet there is some cool stuff there for sure. The ones I find most interesting are the terrestrial inverts (collembolids, rove beetles and pseudoscorpions etc) that make their home at around the mean tide line so that they are submered in salt water (albeit in airbubbles in cracks and old barnacle shells) for 6 hours or more a day! But I ramble on… Anyway, keep up the amazing work! Cheers!
DeWaine Tollefsrud
Tipulid “Crane fly”, Nicrophorus sp., Caddis Fly, Rat-Tail Maggot” Such an ugly common name for Syrphid young

Rat Tailed Maggot Leatherback

Hi DeWaine,
Thanks for the awesome letter. We don’t normally like posting so many different kinds of insects with one letter as it complicates our archiving process, but we are making an exception in your case. We are fond of the common name for Cranefly Larvae, which is Leatherbacks. The Caddisfly Nymph, both in and out if its case, is a nice addition to our site.

Caddisfly Nymph Burying Beetle

What in the world is this???
Hello – I am currently deployed to Basra, Iraq and I found this “moth” on the back of our truck yesterday. We noticed it in the morning and didn’t mess with it. When we came back to our vehicle several hours later in the day (after driving and making several stops), it was STILL there. We checked to see if it was alive and it moved. We just took some pictures of it and left it alone. Can you tell me what this is???? THANKS!

Hi Raja,
This is an Oleander Hawkmoth, a sphinx moth found in many parts of the world including the Mediterranean, Hawaii, and the Middle East. The larval food plant is the oleander.

Red Bugs From Kazakhstan
My husband and I recently returned from Kazakhstan, having spent the summer over there. We saw these bugs everywhere (northern and southern parts of the country). This particular photo is from a park in the former capital of Almaty. Can you tell us what they are? These seem to have two different patterns – are they they same thing? Thanks!

Hi Amy,
These are Firebugs, or Fire Bugs, Pyrrhocoris apterus, a True Bug that is found throughout much of Europe and Western Asia. Since it is a True Bug, it has incomplete metamorphosis with the immature insect resembling the adult, but without wings. You photo shows both immature and adult Firebugs.

thought you might enjoy this image
i took it the other day next to my front door. feel free if you’d like to use it.

this one is from my nursery about a month ago. my camera battery died before they finished which is a real shame, because she turned on him and ate him.
pete veilleux
oakland , ca

Hi Pete,
We love both of your photos. The disobedient Preying Mantis and the “No Hunting” sign is exactly the type of image that we would include in a future calendar if we ever manage to produce another. Your mating Mantid image is also quite stunning, especially in light of the information you provided.

Sleepy Orange butterfly
I have a question concerning the wing structure on a Sleepy Orange butterfly. I am sending you 3 photos for consideration. I took some photos of a Sleepy Orange several weeks ago and notice that a little piece was missing from the end of it’s hind wing. I didn’t think too much about it at the time because I thought the little bit of yellow showing through was the color of the fore wing. I don’t think this is the case at all. Not until I recently photographed another Sleepy Orange and looked closely at the picture did I begin to question whether or not the hind wing was a two-layer wing. The second picture shows, what looks like a separating of the hind wing in little layers like old paint flaking off, revealing the layer underneath. What do you think? Is this wing perhaps a two layer laminate wing (if that’s the right way to describe it). When I went back to look at the older folders more closely, I notice in the 3rd picture a little piece of wing sticking out from the side. That’s where the little piece was missing. It would be interesting to know about the hind wing being a dual layer. Wonder if you peeled away the top layer would it reveal a bright yellow wing underneath the outer layer? It would be interesting to know. I have never notice this separating of the wing before. It looks too that it separated right where the little brown markings are on the hind wing. Maybe this is not what you do. Maybe you just identify them. If you accept the challenge of finding out, will you let me know? I would greatly appreciate it. Curious,
Patrick Crone

Hi Patrick,
While your theory is fascinating, it is not the case. All Lepidopterans, butterflies and moths, have scales on their membraneous wings. The phenomenon you observed is a damaged wing with a missing and or partially detached portion, and the coloration of the upper surface showing when the wings are closed. By the way, we are thrilled to have your images of the Sleepy Orange, Abaeis nicippe.

(10/20/2007) Another question about Sleepy Orange
I have another question about the Sleepy Orange butterfly. I was determined to get a shot of the wings open on the Sleepy Orange, Abaeis nicippe. I am really confused and need your help. Sleepy Oranges are hard to catch with their wings spread out so you can see the inside color of the wings. I have been trying really hard to get a shot when it flies away. After many tries, I managed to get a small glimpse of one as seen in the first photo. Today I was taking pictures of a Sleepy Orange and stayed with it to see if I could get a better shot of the wings open as it flew away to the next flower. I got a better shot of the whole wings and noticed the black border was different on this one. What’s going on? Is there a difference between the male and female? Which is which? The outside of both are the same though. Please help me. Just when I think I am understanding what’s right, I get thrown another curve ball. I’d really appreciate your help. Confused,
Patrick Crone

Hi again Patrick,
Our reference book, Butterflies Through Binoculars: The West by Jeffrey Glassberg, indicates that there is seasonal variablity in the Sleepy Orange. Additionally, there is often much variation between individual specimens. You might try to contact your nearest natural history museum to see if you can view their Sleepy Orange specimens to get some idea of the individual variation. We are not sure if there is an easy way to distinguish the sexes from one another. BugGuide does have an image posted that is identified as a male and female, and there is a difference in their wing markings similar to the difference your photograph indicates.