From the monthly archives: "March 2008"

really sharp waved sphinx(?) pics with better angle on head
We encountered what I think is a waved sphinx moth in Honolulu Hawaii the other day. I’ve attached a few pictures that are considerably sharper than the ones on your site – might help future people identify – especially the dark markings around the head, which are much more prominent when seen from the side. This was quite an experience for our 5-year old, who discovered it, and learned that it hisses (loudly) when irritated. Love your website! Aloha

Hi David,
We disagree with your identification. We believe this to be a Gray Privet Hawkmoth, Psilogramma menephron, which unlike the Waved Sphinx, can be found on the Hawaiian Islands. Check out Bill Oehlke’s site for additional information.

Osmeterium Down Under
Hello Mr Bugman,
My kids found this fellow on our lemon tree, just north of Brisbane, in Queensland, Australia. When I went to pick it up, the bright pink protuberances gave me such a fright that I nearly dropped it! The smell was more floral than offensive but took ages to wash off, and we were fascinated by the aggression with which this rather large caterpillar fought against contact. Of course, we went searching on the net, and learned about the osmeterium, but couldn’t quite identify the caterpillar. It looks somewhat like your US species of swallowtails or is it some type of moth? I thoroughly enjoyed your beautiful website.

Hi Kamara,
It is surprising that once armed with a powerful vocabulary word like osmeterium, that you were unable to properly identify this Orchard Swallowtail Caterpillar, Papilio aegeus, which is sometimes called the Large Citrus Butterfly or just Orchard Butterfly.

Strange dinosaur bug in Carmichael CA —–What could it be?????????????
I found this winged bug sitting on my car’s window this afternoon. It immediately caught my attention because -seriously- it looked reptilian. It’s colors were dark green, yellow and it had orange legs. It really looked like it had scales. It’s neck and antenna are long and it has a long tail too that I thought at first was a stinger. But the longer we looked at each other the more I started to doubt that that’s what it was. Anyway, as soon as I saw this little guy, I thought of you and ran back upstairs to get my camera. I’m sending you several images of it. Sadly, the image from the side is blurry -my camera just couldn’t focus. But I’m sending it anyway because you can still see the arch of it’s long tail. I know you guys can’t answer every email but please answer mine? This bug is just so pretty! And I really want to know what it is. The way it moved was just so graceful! It’s long neck seemed so flexible when it would bend and it’s little head was just so…let’s just say that it was checking me out as much as I was checking it out! It was so cool. Please help me identify it? Thanks so much! I love your site!!!!!!!
Jen in Carmichael CA

Hi Jen,
It is true that we cannot answer every email. We are not proud to admit it, but when we get swarms of emails, and our real lives cannot allow us the luxury to post to the internet, we delete many emails without even opening them. No subject in the subject line will most certainly wind up in the trash. You, on the otherhand, know how to catch our attention. How could we even try to ignore a letter that starts with “Strange dinosaur bug in Carmichael CA —–What could it be?????????????”? The answer is we just can’t. Another big pet peeve of ours is not including a location, and your letter even included that in the subject line. Catching our attention when we are scanning letters can be likened to a one sentence pitch for a movie script. You need to grab our attention and intrigue us. You Jen, did just that. Before we even opened the email and read it, we started to wonder just what bug you thought looked like a dinosaur. Well, this is a female Snake Fly. The tail is her ovipositor. Snakeflies are Neuropterans, and there are some other monstrous members in the order. Just take a look at our Dobsonfly page. Snakeflies are in the suborder Raphidiodea. Thanks for a descriptive letter that is fun to read, a catchy subject line, and a nice photo to complete the package. This is our favorite type of letter to post.

Almost a fairy?
Hi bugman,
Found your site whilst trying to identify this magnificent moth(?) which we pictured in our sunlounge in Orlando Florida. It must have been about 6 inches long and looked just like a fairy. You can even make out a kind of human face if you look closely! We have never seen one before or since. Could you please tell me what it is? Many thanks.

Hi Roy,
We received our first Luna Moth photo of the year on March 5 and it is still on our homepage. Also typing in a description on our search engine should have led you to the proper answer. We really like your letter because of the fairy moth description, and we hope it will help others properly identify their first Luna Moth.

What is going on here?
This creature landed on my window long enough for me to take the picture and then flew off for parts unknown. What captured the wasp? I overexposed the print for more detail.
Lauren Birthisel
Fort Worth, Texas

Hi Lauren,
We do not have the necessary skills to count wing veins nor antennae segments to exactly identify the insects in your photo, and the angle is an unusual one for comparison to usual photographs. We would wager this is a Robber Fly, but are not confident enough to take the ID any further. We will try to contact Eric Eaton to get his opinion on both the fly and wasp.

Update: (03/26/2008)
Hi, Daniel:
The fly is a robber fly in the genus Mallophora. The victim is a paper wasp in the genus Polistes.

Grizzly Bee?
This thing has been flying around a dedicated area of a guava tree outside my window all day without taking a rest. It has to be 2 inches long… What is it? I live in San Diego, CA.

Hi TN,
This is one of our favorite harbingers of spring in Southern California, the male Valley Carpenter Bee. The golden male bees with green eyes fly for a short period of time in the spring and they have a rapid aggressive flight. The black female bees look like a different species. they have a more plodding flight and they are longer lived.