From the monthly archives: "July 2008"

Attention … Bee-like robber fly
Hi Bugman:
I was photographing damselflies this past weekend when this robber fly flew past my face and landed on a nearby leaf. Obviously it was interested in damselflies as well. I don’t think there is a common name for this creature other than bee-like, beeish or bumblebee robber fly in the genus Laphria. I believe this is L. janus, but perhaps you could confirm this for me. The photo was taken along a forest trail in an aspen parkland area of southwest Manitoba. Thanks, and regards.

Hi Karl,
Your Bee-Like Robber Fly is in the genus Laphria, and it doesn’t exactly match any of the species on BugGuide. We tried searching for photos of Laphria janus online but our intermittant connectivity problem returned. When our connectivity returned, we found some support to your identification and we agree this is Laphria janus. A Robber Fly webpage makes this observation: “Note the contrast in the hair color from thorax to abdomen. And note the thoracic hair is not in a triangular and elongate arrangement and it is not spread over the whole thorax. Also note the heavy golden beard and mystax of the female. “

Big hornet on a cicadia
I just witnesses this crazy bug in the hornet family???? On top of his lunch traveling all over the patio. Want to know what that bug is? He eventually gave up and flew off and left the dead cicada. Thanks for helping.
Holli at Swain’s swimming patio.

Cicada Killer
Ed. Note: For many letters that we do not plan to post, we give a very brief answer in email only, which was the case here. This prompted the following confused response.

Huh???? Did I send this to the correct email???

We don’t understand this latest question. you sent a photo to our website and requested an identification. Your insect is a Cicada Killer. That is the common name, but if you prefer the Linnean binomial, it is Sphecius speciosus.
Ed. note: We hope our response cleared up the confusion, though a lack of a location on this letter should have prompted us to just hit delete. Perhaps the confused reader considers Swain’s swimming patio to be a location that would mean something to us. At any rate, the utter disregard for grammatical conventions in these communications created an uncontrollable urge on our part to share them with our loyal public.

Cool Bug Pics
The Borer and Bee Killer are both from my yard in Seguin TX

Hi Renee,
We see you have labled your photo of Plinthocoelium suaveolens with the common name Texas Bumelia Borer. We posted another image of this species yesterday and lamented its lack of a universally accepted common name. We would propose Tupelo Tree Borer after another host tree.

Colorful Beetle
I found this colorful beetle, which at first glance appears to be a super laybird beetle, on swamp milkweed in a garden in Milwaukee, WI on July 19, 2008. Two views.

Hi Bob,
You actually had your answer in your question. You knew it was a beetle and you knew it was on swamp milkweed, and it is a Swamp Milkweed Beetle, Labidomera clivicollis.

In the interest of sharing – picture from Ingomar, Mississippi
This may end up in the trash, and that’s OK. I don’t need an explanation of what he is – they are all over the place in Virginia where I live. This is my reminder to never leave home without a camera. The attached picture has not been altered; this guy was hanging out on the front porch of my cousin’s home in Ingomar, Mississippi. In 2005 I spent a week with her while she was undergoing cancer treatment. The backdrop is a plaque on the wall beside the front door just below a porch light, and was a gift from another cousin so the picture has even more sentimental value. It just happens to be the same color and similar pattern as the garden spider’s head. Three years later we both still use this picture as our Windows desktop wallpaper. Date: October 11, 2005 Place: Ingomar, Mississippi

Hi Lynne,
This photo of Argiope aurantia, the Golden Orb Weaver, or Yellow Garden Spider, or Black and Yellow Argiope, or Writing Spider, or Yellow Garden Orbweaver, is just the type of quirky photo that appeals to our aesthetic. If we ever do another calendar, it would be exactly the type of image we would select. Though we get many technically gorgeous photos for our site, we really prefer those that cross the line from mere identification documents to artistic representations. We can only wonder how many traveling sales persons, proselytizers and neighbors turned away in horror at the front door.