From the monthly archives: "June 2008"

caterpillars? in Florida
We live in Orlando, Florida and my husband found these caterpillars (?) on our Key Lime Tree. Can you tell us what kind they are? They had amazing long red forked tongues. We are a crowd of bug lovers but we have never seen these and they made us a bit nervous with the long forked tongue. Thank you for any information.
Andrea K

Hi Andrea,
These are Giant Swallowtail Caterpillars, Papilio cresphontes. It is widely accepted that they mimic bird droppings to avoid getting eaten. The red forked “tongue” is a scent organ knows as the Osmetrium. Giant Swallowtail Caterpillars are harmless and develop into beautiful butterflies.

zoomed in pic of moth
Hi bugman,
I wrote a week ago asking what kind of moth this was. I was looking at the pic I emailed in and noticed I couldn’t zoom in very much before it got blurry. So I cropped the original (I was too lazy to get my hard drive out and get the original the first time.) So here is a better zoom in of it. Like I said before we found it in our front yard on a rose bush, and we live in Turkey, close to Adana. I thought it was such a beautiful moth. Thanks,

Hi Steph,
Thanks for resending your photo of an Oleander Hawk Moth, Deilephila nerii or Daphnis nerii. This truly beautiful moth has an extensive range due to the use of its larval food plant, the Oleander, in landscaping. Bill Oehlke has the following information posted to his awesome website: “primarily associated with ‘the southern Mediterranean region, North Africa and the Middle East to Afghanistan (Ebert, 1969). Along the Mediterranean, there is no clear distinction between resident and migrant populations. Permanent populations exist in suitable locations in Sicily, Crete and Cyprus; however, over a number of favourable years further colonies may be established in those islands and also in southern Italy and southern Greece, all of which die out during a hard winter.’ and ‘Extra-limital range. From Afghanistan eastward to south-east Asia and the Philippines; as a migrant, it penetrates northwards into central Europe and central southern Asia. In 1974, this species was recorded as having established itself in Hawaii (Beardsley, 1979).’ “

What kind of bug is this?
Hello Bugman!
Me and my family went on vacation to the mountains this weekend. The kids found this beautiful specimen while playing in the backyard. I was wondering if you could identify it for us (and maybe point us to more pictures of the same species in the Internet). We live in the Dominican Republic on the Caribbean. This bug was found at 4,000 feet high playing in the grass among the pine trees. Is the color red normal from this area? Is the back horn used to sting? Is this a male or female variety? Where can we find more pics and info on this bug? Cheers,

hi Alberich,
We are going to start guessing here. We know that this is a member of the order Orthoptera that contains crickets, grasshoppers and katydids. We believe it is in the suborder Ensifera, the Longhorned Orthopterans. It might be a Shield Backed Katydid in the subfamily Tettigoniinae, or a Spiny Predatory Katydid in the subfamily Subfamily Listroscelidinae, or perhaps some other group found in the tropics but not in the U.S.A. She is a female, as evidenced by her long, swordlike ovipositor. At any rate, she is magnificent. Often it is difficult to get a positive identification on tropical species because of limited information available online. We will post your photo and hopefully get an answer.

Update: (07/03/2008) Katydid IDs from Piotr Naskrecki
I have been looking at the page with unidentified katydids (Katydids 2), and thought I could help with some ID’s. From top to bottom they are: Dominican Republic Polyancistrine – Polyancistrus loripes

underwing caterpillars?
Dear Bugman,
We LOVE your site and use it regularly. We also have it linked on our greenhouse/nursery website to encourage our customers to i.d. and learn about bugs rather than freaking out, pouring chemicals on them and otherwise engaging in Unnecessary Carnage. Your site is a fantastic resource — educational and entertaining! So anyhoo, the lumps on this pin oak tree were spotted this afternoon by one of our fellow treehuggers. Upon closer examination, we all had to rub our eyes a couple of times to be sure we weren’t seeing things and confirmed that they were two pinky finger-sized caterpillars perfectly matched to the smooth gray bark of the immature pin oak. When they were still they looked just like part of the tree trunk, and we had to touch them before they began slowly making their way down to the bottom of the trunk headfirst. They had a soft fringe all the way around their bodies — I wish my photo was clearer. They were the coolest dang bugs I’ve seen in a long time. The closest thing I can find on your site is an underwing caterpillar, but the one you have matches a corkier bark. Are their different species that match different trees? Oh yeah, we’re a few miles south of Lawrence, Kansas, as the moth flies. If you can help us out between photograms, we’d be much obliged. Your friend,

Dear Plantlady,
We agree with your assessment that these well camouflaged caterpillars are Underwing Caterpillars in the genus Catocala, but we are at a loss for the exact species. BugGuide has over twenty images of Underwing Caterpillars posted.

Correction: (06/29/2008)
The pair of “underwing caterpillars” are actually two larvae of the “large tolype” moth, Tolype velleda. Very striking, aren’t they!
Eric Eaton

Ferocious bee
Hi Bugman!
Today I was examining my squashes when I saw this strange-looking bee. It has long antennae like a long horned bee, but its body doesn’t really look like one. It was traveling from squash flower to squash flower, but instead of drinking the nectar, it looked like it just wanted to sit in them. The bee itself looks oddly moody and temperamental, and it definitely acted aggressive whenever I tried to take a close-up shot of it. After taking the pictures I sent you, I tried to stick my camera into the flower to get a really nice shot, and I know that any insect would have been a bit annoyed, but this one, when I wasn’t even very close, launched itself out of the flower and body slammed my lens! I was pretty shaken after that, and I haven’t been able to find the bee since. But I would really appreciate finding out what type of bee it is, since I’ve never seen one before (I live in the San Francisco Bay area). Thanks,

Hi Brandon,
We believe this bee is in the genus Peponapis, known as Squash Bees. Squash Bees are Long Horned Bees in the tribe Eucerini, hence the resemblance.

Update: 906/29/2008)
Your identification of the squash bee is correct, and it is a male bee. Peponapis pruinosa is the likely species.
Eric Eaton

need help!
I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota..and the past two weeks we have been infested with these bug in the back yard. They have not made it inside the house yet, thank goodness! It pinched my husband the other night while he was outside and it latched on to my Westie’s nose, and sent her barking and crying! >Can you help me? We have asked all of our neighbors and no one has ever seen anything like this in our area. What is this thing? And how do I get rid of it? Thanks,

Hi Heather,
This is a Stag Beetle. We are not certain what species, and we will enlist the assistance of Eric Eaton with a more exact identification. You must have a plentiful larval food source in your immediate vicinity. The grubs eat rotting wood, so perhaps a dead rotting tree or a neglected firewood pile is the source of the Stag Beetle population explosion.

Update: (06/29/2008) About the Stag beetle
Dear Heather, I know it’s not great to get pinched, and I am sorry that happened to your husband and your dog, but please don’t try to eliminate your stag beetles, they are a vital part of the forest ecosystem. Probably where your house is now used to be forest not too long ago, or perhaps you are near the edge of forest still. It sounds as if this year there is a surge in the population of stag beetles, and right now the adults are all hatching out, but very soon they will all disperse to find other dead wood, and you won’t be bothered by them any more. Stag Beetles are impressive, and to me they are some of the aristocrats of the beetle world. Best to you,

Update: (06/29/2008)
Dear Daniel:
The stag beetle is either a female or “minor” male of the “pinching beetle,” Lucanus capreolus. Am I going to hell because I laughed at the poor doggie? I can’t imagine an “infestation” of stag beetles, but simply turning off the outdoor lighting would help. They are attracted to lights at night. In the absence of that attraction they will probably fly elsewhere to look for mates.
Eric Eaton

Thank you so much for your response and your assistance. Now that we know what they are, and that they are not a threat or anything, we will let them be and hopefully they will move on soon on their own. No one will be going to hell for laughing at the fact that my poor puppy (only 12 weeks old) got “pinched.” It was quite the sight and we laughed too. 🙂 Thanks again!

Correction: (07/04/2008) Forwarded by Eric Eaton
Hi Eric!
I had a look at What’s That Bug , and would like to suggest that this entry Stag Beetle is probably a Lucanus placidus. Once I had an interesting correspondence regarding this species from Minnesota as well, and posted the lot in the bugguide. Interesting to know that it is you running this site, I used to visit when I had a lot a stag beetle emails, this before the emergence of the bugguide! All the best,