From the monthly archives: "March 2008"

Hairy caterpillar waiting to be eaten by hatching ?wasps
Dear Daniel,
On several gum trees in our yard there are these batches of white eggs, each batch bearing a paralysed hairy caterpillar. I don’t know what the insects in the eggs are, but am assuming some type of wasp will hatch out. In the first photo there are two batches of eggs, with a crane fly that just happened to be resting there. Kind regards,

Hi Grev,
It is nice to get an image from one of our most consistant identifiers of Australian mysteries. You are correct about the wasps, but some of the details are wrong. These are pupae of Braconid Wasps, not eggs. The eggs were oviposited inside the caterpillar, and the larval wasps fed on the internal organs, sparing the vital organs for last to keep the caterpillar alive as long as possible. Then the pupae form on the outside. There is no paralysis with Braconids. The caterpillars are dead.

Hello, Bugman!
We took these pictures last summer at a resort in Mexico along the Riviera Maya. I have been unable to identify this butterfly. As you can see, part of his wing is missing. Please tell me!
Denise L. Burket

Hi Denise,
We have spent far too much time trying to identify your butterfly, with no success. We visited many comprehensive sites, but remain luckless. The best we can do is to say it is a Brushfooted Butterfly in the family Nymphalidae. Providing both an open winged and closed winged view seemed like a surefire tact for identification success. Perhaps one of our readers with some spare time and continue the search and provide an answer.

Update: Readers Find Answer…
(03/28/2008) Daniel – Unknown Mexican Brushfooted Butterfly
Hi Daniel:
Re: Unknown Mexican Brushfooted Butterfly (03/26/2008) I believe this is a red-ring in the Genus Pyrrhogyra. There are a few to choose from but I think I would go with the White-edged Red-ring (P. otolais); aka Otolais Red-ring and Double-banded Banner. There are a few good photos on the web, but you could try this one: Regards

Unknown Mexican Brushfooted Butterfly I.D.
Hello Daniel and Lisa,
Exhaustive web searching has led me to the genus Pyrrhogyra for this butterfly. The pics I’ve seen are all quite similar, so I won’t hazard a guess as to which species. The photos have been from Mexico and Central America. Keep up the great work! Bugophile-ly yours
Bev Donnelly

… and finally, from the Querant herself:
I think I found my butterfly! Look at all these pictures!

caterpillar picture attached
I saw this caterpillar in Anzo-Borrego Desert in southern California last week. Curious if you know what it is. Pictures attached.

Hi Paul,
With the desert wildflowers being so spectacular this year, there is plenty of food for plant eaters like caterpillars. We expect to get numerous queries regarding your species, the White Lined Sphinx or Striped Morning Sphinx, Hyles lineata. The caterpillars of this species are highly variable and become quite numerous at times. They were eaten by Native Americans and still are eaten by some adventuresome modern Americans as well.

Worst Bug Story
You have an amazing site; I have spent the last three hours looking it over. Before I share my awful bug story, I would like to suggest an idea to your readers who experience ladybug invasions. You mention that they can vacuum the ladybugs. Yet, why waste good ladybugs that are just trying to survive the winter? Gather them up (a bagless vacuum might work without killing them) and refrigerate them or store them in a cool place until you can release them outside in the spring — targeting, of course, prized shrubs that may be hosting some nasties that the ladybugs could eat.
Now, here is the story (which pales in comparison to the mystery plague and tampon stories listed on your page). Before the store closed down, my stepmother had a bad habit of shopping at a local IGA that frequently sold expired goods. She also never looked at the expiration dates. After one of these shopping trips, I opened up a “new” box of cereal (I forgot — or suppressed — which kind), poured a bowl, and started to eat. Very soon afterward, my family noticed several flying insects buzzing around the kitchen. They looked like quarter inch mayflies, but with shorter proportioned bodies. I thought that they were a bit strange, but I merrily continued to enjoy my cereal — until I happened to look closely at the bowl. The cereal was alive. I ran to the garbage disposal and spit out what I had in my mouth. When I had collected myself, I reopened the cereal box, and a swarm of the pests escaped. The box was very expired, though I am not sure that such is a good excuse for the cereal company. Larva and Flakes just doesn’t sound like a winner for General Mills. Needless to say, it was the last time that I confidently poured cereal without an inspection.

Dear Anonymous,
We hope the Reputation Defender Service Team doesn’t attack us for your letter mentioning General Mills or IGA. We haven’t posted a letter to the Worst Bug Story Ever page of our site in three and a half years, but your story grabbed our attention. Expiration dates are on products for a good reason. While this does not look good for the manufacturer, the burden of enforcement does lie with the retailer and the buyer. On a more positive note, a little additional protein is far less injurious than E. coli in spinich, Salmonella in peanut butter, tainted pet food from China, or the myriad chemical additives that have been approved by the FDA. Thank you for a thoroughly engaging letter and a tip on ladybugs.

Spider – kukulcania, southern house spider?
We saw this spider on the side of our apartment in Las Vegas, NV. We’re not entirely sure what it is, but the best we can identify is the perhaps Kukulcania hibernalis (or loxosceles, but we hope not!) You can see in the picture that it has big black hairs on the legs, and the legs start out as a beige/yellow and end with a darker brown/black at the “feet.” We couldn’t exactly identify a “violin” on the back, but we didn’t have much for a frame of reference; however, the kukulcania seems to have the squarish abdomen, while the recluse seems to have a larger, bulbous abdomen. We also didn’t observe the double row on 3 eyes that the recluse is said to have. Overall, the spider’s diameter including its legs and feet were about the size of soda can. We were about to give up and call this a violin spider/recluse, but then saw on page 9 of the Spiders the conversation about the kukulcania, and are happier with that identification in regards to correctness and the related degree of danger! We hope this picture will be a good addition to your pages, and thanks so much for having a great website to research through! Best wishes,
Trish M., Las Vegas NV

Hi Trish,
We disagree with both of your suggestions, but are unsure ourselves. We are thinking perhaps one of the Tengellid Spiders in the family Tengellidae based on images we found on BugGuide. Wikipedia has some information. We will try to get Eric Eaton’s opinion. If we are correct, this is a new family for What’s That Bug?

Correction: We Were Wrong and Trish was right!!!
Daniel: No, but if I hadn’t seen the thing before, I would have absolutely no idea where to begin! The image is of a male “crevice weaver” in the genus Kukulcania, family Filistatidae. Many folks mistake them for a brown recluse, which they do resemble at a cursory glance. Females look more like diminutive tarantulas and are darker in color. Crevice weavers are not dangerously venomous to people, but are common inhabitants of homes, usually on the exterior of the house, though.

Cool Moth
I live near Los Angeles, CA and saw this fella laying some eggs on a tire of a car the other day and thought I would take some pictures of it. It was sitting totally still and I wanted to see if I could get a closer look. I decided to see if I could get it to spread its wings a little so I took a little twig and touched its wing. To my surprise it spread its wings and started dancing about. It showed these really cool markings on it’s inner wing that looked like big eyes. The inner wings were brightly colored compared to the rest of its brown body. It was sure cool to see. I wanted to see what kind of moth it was and stumbled across your site. I am hoping you will be able answer my question. Best Regards,

Hi Mike,
We believe this is a One Eyed Sphinx, Smerinthus cerisyi, sometimes called Cerisy’s Sphinx. This species is found in California, but we thought it was limited to the more northern parts of the state. Your moth also resembles the Salicet Sphinx, Smerinthus saliceti, which is found in San Diego county and points south. Our money is on the former, the One Eyed Sphinx, but the two moths look remarkable similar. We may try to contact Bill Oehlke to see if he has a definitive answer.