From the monthly archives: "June 2008"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Is this a Red Legged Purse Spider (sphodros rufipes)?
My daughter found this spider in an old cemetary that we visit at Memorial Day time. My daughter was sure she had found some rare spider, and I guess maybe she did. We live in Southwestern Kansas, and I don’t think they are very common here After convincing her that she did not need to keep the spider for a pet, she released it. Before releasing it, she took a picture of it, but it was a little too far away, and the crop turned out a little fuzzy. But looking at other pictures in this category, I believe it is a red legged purse spider. What do you think? . Thank you,

Hi Krista,
Your identification of a Red Legged Purseweb Spider is correct.

(06/02/2008) red legged purseweb spider
Thank you for providing such an excellent identification site for insects and spiders! While putting more native plants into our yard in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, my daughter found this magnificent spider with violet-black body and bright red legs. Everyone in the family came to see it. Even as an astute field biologist myself, I had never seen a spider like this. After some internet searching, I found the ID on your site. You mentioned it as an “endangered” species. Is that a federal listing or state listing? Do you know it’s listing in Missouri? We live in the river hills of the Mississippi river in what once was historically Beech-Tupelo mesophytic forest. We still have a few beech trees and tulip poplar is still common. Is there only one species of this kind (Atypus bicolor) or does the common name refer to several different species? Would you say that the one we have in Southeast Missouri is the endangered species? Any idea about its habitat preferences? I’d like to be able to find it again and take some photographs and video. Thanks again
Steven Juhlin

Hi Scott,
Your letter arrived the same day as a letter with a photo from Krista in Kansas, so we are posting them together. The endangered species status is something we researched back in 2003 when we received the first image of a Red Legged Purseweb Spider submitted to our site. Since then we have received many more. Wikipedia indicates it is a southern species that has been found as far north as Indiana and Missouri, so you are probably among the northernmost sightings, though since Wikipedia cites What’s That Bug? as a source, we may have perpetuated a myth. Wikipedia also indicates it is endangered throughout most of its range due to Fire Ants. Perhaps the spiders are migrating north to escape the warmth loving Fire Ants. The Purseweb Spiders of Kentucky website indicates: “The Red-Legged Purseweb Spider ( Sphodros rufipes , which may occur in Kentucky) has historically appeared on U.S. endangered species lists, but some scientists believe that it may not be a rare spider.” The bottom line is that virtually everything on the planet is endangered right now, but some more than others. We would hazard to guess that the Red Legged Purseweb Spider is more endangered than many.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Cicada North Carolina
Just looking at the Cicada’s on your site and realized you did not have a picture of the Cicada from Asheville, North Carolina that’s been “bugging” us this year, I am having a lot of fun with these bugs.
Nadine Maltz

Hi Nadine,
We have numerous images of Periodical Cicadas, Magicicada septendecim, also known as the 17 Year Locust. This is a member of Brood XIV and it is the second image of the species we have received this year. The first was from Ohio.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Black Spikey Caterpillar
Dear What’s That Bug,
My son and I found this black spikey caterpillar in the backyard eating some cottonwood leaves. It is mostly black with a lot of tiny white dots, tiny white hairs, and long black spikes all over its body. It also has five pairs of orange feet and rust colored spots down the middle of its back. We think it looks similar to a mourning cloak caterpillar that we saw on your site. Is that what it is? Thank you

Hi Damon,
You are correct in your identification of this Mourning Cloak Caterpillar.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

How about this one?
Grazing on deciduous leaves in a remote canyon (5,000 feet) in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Dave Martz

Hi Dave,
This is a Spotted Tussock Moth Caterpillar, Lophocampa maculata.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Bee-Like Beetle
Photographed in central Greece, May 2008. Behaved like a bee, too, buzzing and visiting flowers, but those sure look like elytra

Hi David,
We agree that those elytra indicate a beetle, but we are not certain what beetle. Our first guess is one of the Hairy Flower Scarabs in the Tribe Trichiini as shown on BugGuide. We will check if Eric Eaton has an opinion.

Update: (06/02/2008)
Hi, Daniel:
I suspect it is some kind of buprestid, but I agree that an ID may be impossible without more images to work from.

Update: February 16, 2011
Wildabug has provided us with a brief comment that places this beetle in the family Glaphyridae, the Bumble Bee Scarab Beetles.  We found a nice web page called the Scarabs of the Levant that profiles these fascinating beetles.  Here is an excerpt:  “Except for a few species, life histories of the glaphyrids are poorly documented. Adults are often brightly colored, densely setose, active diurnally, and strong fliers. Many species have colored setal bands on the abdomen and resemble various Hymenoptera (bumble bees and metallic bees). They are frequenting flowers (often red Ranuncolacee and Tulipa) and foliage. Larval are free living in ground or sandy areas (riparian and coastal dunes) where immature stages feed on the rooths or on decaying leaf litter and detritus that is layered in the sand.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Squished at 55 mph
Hi Bugaholics!
I was driving home from work the other day, and a breathtakingly beautiful beetle hit my windshield. I thought I’d been hit by a rock! The poor critter dropped into the area where the windshield wipers attach, and bedazzled me for the rest of the ride home. Unfortunately, he/she was a bit … um … disassembled. I tried to put various parts basically back into place without much luck. Surely this is a good specimen for the carnage section. So, what the heck kind of beetle is it? Wildlife has always interested me, and I have always been fascinated by bugs; but I’ve never seen this type before.

Hi Raven,
We are sorry to disappoint you, but unintentional insecticide does not belong on our unnecessary carnage pages which are reserved of conscious killing. We don’t hold you responsible for not breaking for this poor, misdirected Rainbow Scarab that flew directly into your path of travel, unless of course you were distracted by talking on the cell phone. We are thrilled to post your photo to our beetle section and our homepage. The Rainbow Scarab, Phanaeus vindex, is actually a Dung Beetle.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination