From the monthly archives: "February 2008"

Golden tortoise beetle
Hi there!
I am from the Philippines and I love insect photography. These last couple of weeks, I have been taking photos of golden tortoise beetles. Some are here: in this set. I don’t know the exact name of this kind of tortoise beetle. Those spots on the edge of their shell make them different from these beetles: Could you help me find out the exact species name? Thanks in advance.
Best regards, Maria Jesusa Laakso

Hi Maria,
Your Tortoise Beetles are beautiful. There are certain species in the U.S. that are metallic in coloration and they are sometimes called Goldbugs. Tortoise Beetles belong to the tribe Cassidini. We located another image of your species on Flicker, but without a scientific name. One click away we identified Aspidomorpha miliaris on a Tortoise Beetle page. It is also called the Spotted Tortoise Beetle and the Fool’s Gold Beetle. It is great that you have also included an image of the spiny larvae of the Spotted Tortoise Beetle

Antheraea mylitta
Dear Experts from Whatsthatbug,
what a great webpage! I often enjoy the nice pictures and comments – it is such an explosive mixture of interesting details and beauty, congratulations! It is also a very nice and important medium for the evidentation of where the species occur… For the nice insert from 10.10.07 written by Ibrahim TMC, Kasargod, Kerala – I have another proposal; though the colour is really very much like that of A. yamamai from Japan or Russian Far East (specially in females, I am close to confuse the specimens too), what is quite surprising indeed – it should be an Antheraea mylitta female, with regard to the much bigger eyespots on the wings; a very fascinating species, similar to A. yamamai, but with the caterpillars spinning a much larger, splendid egg-shaped cocoon hanging on a strong peduncle from a twig. (Some subspecies are cultivated for silk in the region.) On the other hand, the information about A. yamamai occuring in India (as introduced species, like in Slovenia where I come from, since 1865) can be found in several sources of Lepidopterological literature – and I am wondering very much how it should be able to survive in a tropical climate, as coming originally from a quite winter-cold region (northern Japan) – except, maybe, in high mountains… (They overwinter as eggs and can only have one generation per year – needing therefore a colder climate.) Do You have any additional information about the Indian A. yamamai population and where they occur? (Attached is a photo of A. yamamai from Slovenia, making love on the window, the female is on the right.) Many Thanks in advance and nicest wishes to You and to Ibrahim, from Berlin,
Bostjan Dvorak

Hi Bostjan,
Thanks for your wonderful letter with all of its information. Sadly, we have no additional information on the image from India, and we no longer have contact information on Ibrahim or his moth. We are thrilled to have your image of mating Antheraea yamamai.

acherontia styx?
Hi there … are these acherontia styx caterpillars? Thanks!

Hi Dawn,
Please provide a location.

Thanks for your reply! I really like your website, by the way. I’m from Singapore. I found these lovelies chomping away on my jasmine plant. Have kept them aside safely (I have 5 cats) with lots of leaves to keep them happy. Any tips on how to look after these caterpillars, especially when they pupate (do they need to burrow beneath soil or hang from a branch?) Thanks so much for any information you can provide. Regards,

Hi Dawn,
Thanks so much for the additional information. Hawkmoths in the genus Acherontia are called the Death’s Head Hawkmoths. Your specimens are in the genus Acherontia, but we are not certain if they are Acherontia lachesis or Acherontia styx medusa, both of which can be found in Singapore. Thanks for your contribution.

Eating Insects
I guess that you would post this in your eating insects forum. I spent 8+ years in Japan. I learned (on my own) to enjoy insects as edible fare. The giant department stores there often sold large insects as pets. One type often sold was the larvae and adults of the giant Japanese Rhinoserious beetle (Tripoxylus Dichotomous) I used to buy the larvae (they look like humongouse garden grubs) and would boil them in water, before placing them in jars of alcohol to preserve them. (boiling them helps keep their natural white color when you pickle them.) Well, while boiling them, they smelled so good that I decided to eat some! Here’s what I did: After boiling, I would slice them open and remove the central gut with its digested wood. Then I would cut off the too-crunchy head and six legs. The remaining white body I would dip in hot, melted butter with lemon juice, and enjoy! Yum! The flavor is like a cross between escargot and frog-legs…a sweet, earthy flavor. I also enjoyed the sweet, white bodies of Brood-X, 2004 Periodical cicadas, just after they’re emerging from their underground nymphal shells. I would collect these and sauteé them in garlic butter. Cicadas are extremely clean insects, only drinking tree-juices, and have wonderful sweet flesh.
OK, heres another treat I enjoyed while living in Japan: Dragonfly thoraxes! There were billions of dragonflies flitting around all the ponds there and I netted dozens and dozens of them for my meals. Pop-off the heads, legs, wings, and abdomens, and the thorax is nothing but powerful wing-muscle meat…Extremely delicious and flavorful. Sauteé these in butter and enjoy the sweet, tender flesh which is true red-meat.
I have tried other commonly-eaten insects but don’t really like them: Grasshoppers have an ugly taste, as their guts are filled with their meals and their "spit" which is untasty to me. Ants tend to be sour, what with their formic acid and all. Caterpillars have a wierd taste, like the smell of brand-new rubber garden-hoses. However, Japanese silk-worm moth larvae are good, with their almost tea-like flavor. Remove the heads and six true-legs for a softer-fare. I DO recommend Tenebrio (domestic meal-worm beetle larvae and the larger "super-worm" Tenebriads) as they eat clean grains fed to them and have a sweet grainy taste. Delicious, cooked or sauteéd. Cut off their heads and legs to remove some of the "crunch". I have tried eating tarantulas too. But to me, only the ‘thorax’ portion is edible. The abdomen is filled with the silk-glands and these are too chewy with their liquid silk formula. The taste is quite earthy, but different from their 6-legged relatives. Very "escargot" in flavor, use the same butter formula to cook: Butter, Shallots, garlic, parsley, salt ‘n’ pepper to taste. Insects are quite edible if you can get over the "yuk factor" that is instilled in almost every American!

Hi Fred,
Thanks so much for your informative letter. If food prices continue to rise, eating insects might seem much more desireable.

I went on vacation with my family this past September (2007) and when we returned to our campsite we found this caterpillar on our picnic table. Could you tell me what kind it is? Best regards,
Amy Vonderchek
Trumansburg, NY

Hi Amy,
If this is not a Spiny Oak Slug Caterpillar, Euclea delphinii, then it is a closely related species in the same genus. Slug Caterpillars are stinging caterpillars and they must be handled with caution.

Hi Bugman,
I work for Russell Cave and we try to get pictures of all critters that we see here and make a photo album out of them. I have 2 caterpillars that I can not identify. I have looked at your site and found some similar but no luck. Could you please help. Thank you very much,

Hi Mary,
Though we don’t receive as many letters in February as we do in the summer, we are a bit behind in responding. Your green caterpillar is a Nason’s Slug Caterpillar, Natada nasoni. Handle with care since Slug Caterpillars have stinging spines. Your other caterpillar appears to be one of the Noctuid Moths, a very large family of moths. We did a cursory search on BugGuide, but properly identifying this caterpillar might take hours, and still prove unsuccessful.