From the monthly archives: "July 2008"

Spiny caterpillar on azalea bush
I found these caterpillars on my azalea bush this morning. There were probably 15 of them. I have never seen them before. As I was putting them in a container, one fell on my hand and I had a burning sensation on the area. Are these poisonous? I live in St. Petersburg FL. Thanks for your help.

Hi Donna,
There may be slight pain and irritation from contact with the spines of the Io Moth Caterpillar, Automeris io. The adult moth is a lovely “eyed” Saturniid.

Land Planaria
I came across this planarian during one of my hike up Bukit Timah Hill, Singapore. Any idea what is its name? Sincerely,
Vincent Tan

Hi Vincent,
A cursory search online did not produce any matches for your gaudily striped Flatworm from Singapore. Perhaps one of our readers will have better luck than we have had with the identification. One would think that such distinctive markings would have been noticed and noted.

Update: (07/29/2008) ID for Unknown Striped Flatworm from Singapore
Hi Daniel,
What a gorgeous terrestrial planarian! There is a very nice shot of this same species at: If the ID there is correct, then this is probably Bipalium rauchi von Graff, 1899. Best,
Susan H.

Hi Susan,
It is so wonderful to be able to post a photo in the morning, then go to work in order to be able to pay the mortgage, endure an earthquake, and then return home to find an identification in the mailbox. Thanks heaps.

Update: (07/29/2008) Unknown Striped Flatworm a P.S.
The generic name now seems to have been changed to Diversibipalium , thus the species would be Diversibipalium rauchi (von Graff, 1899).

Another Reader’s Update: (07/29/2008) Unknown Planarian on your site
You have a picture of an unknown flatworm from Singapore on your page from 7/27/08. I just wanted to throw in my two cents. I saw a similar looking creature on flickr and someone replied leaving a comment saying it was in the genus Bipalium. So, I googled the genus and came across this website: It lists different picture names in alphabetical order. Under Bipalium is a picture that nearly exactly matches the flatworm on your site. The link to the flickr picture: The third comment lists a possible species level ID as well as a few sources. Don’t know if this is what you’re looking for, but I hope it helps. Thanks,

Is this a Goilden Digger Wasp?
This fellow had a thing for the flowers on our red onion plants today. This gave me the opportunity to take several pretty sharp photos. Feel free to share. I enjoy your website quite a bit, Thanks!
John Baumann
Spokane, WA

Hi John,
Your Great Golden Digger Wasp identification is quite accurate.

Arizona Beetle on Creosote Bush
The attached picture was taken in an area called Cascabel in Cochise County, Arizona. The area is approximately 30 miles north of the town of Benson, at an elevation of 3500 feet above sea level. The bugs were quite numerous on several creosote bushes. Please identify. Thanks,
Bob Evans
Beetle on Creosote Bush, Cascabel, Arizona

Hi Bob,
Your beetle is a Blister Beetle in the family Meloidae. It closely resembles an unidentified beetle in the genus Pyrota from Texas that was posted to BugGuide, but it is not an exact match. We will contact Eric Eaton for assistance.

Update: (07/28/2008) From Eric Eaton
Hope your lecture at the Getty went well! … Your identifications of the blister beetles are correct to genus. There is no easy way to determine species without having a collection to compare to, or the specimen in hand to run through a “key.” Lots of individual variation in color (and pattern in the case of Pyrota) makes ID impossible from an image alone. … I think that covers all your questions. Keep up the great work.

Flat-Headed Wood Borer
Hey Bugman,
I found a specimen of what I believe to be Buprestis rufipes, the Flat-Headed Wood Borer. This guy flew onto my shirt while I was in a park near Olney, Maryland. He is about 3/4 in long, and has spectacular grey, prisim eyes that are not visible in these pictures. Hope this will be a nice addition to your excellent website. From a fellow insect lover,
Drew Villeneuve

Hi Drew,
Thanks for your gorgeous photo of a Red Legged Buprestis.

phymatodes testaceus??
we need your help! We live near Chattanooga, TN and found this bug flying in our back yard. It has amazing colors- metallic green and orange. When it flies it’s wings are a very bright green and when it turns to the side, you can see the flashes of orange. What is this beautiful bug? I’ve lived in this area all of my life and never seen anything like this. We visited another website(after looking through yours) to try to find a closer match and thought it was phymatodes testaceus- I don’t know what the common name is from the mumbo- jumbo, but some kind of borer??? Thanks,
The Ushers

Hi Ushers,
You are correct about this being a Borer Beetle, but you have the wrong species. The correct species is even more of a tongue twister: Plinthocoelium suaveolens. While we understand that the Linnean binomial system of naming living things is not conducive to speaking in normal conversational English, it can be impressive when these polysyllabic words are casually inserted in day to day conversations. It is unfortunate that this gorgeous insect does not seem to have a common name. BugGuide indicates that: “Larvae are trunk and root borers of Tupelo ( Nyssa ), Bumelia , and Mulberry ( Morus )” so either Tupelo Tree Borer or Mulberry Borer would seem appropriate. We will see if Eric Eaton can shed any light on the noticeable lack of a common name here. If Will Smith could get the word “jiggy” added to the vernacular and then getting it placed in Webster’s compendium of words, we see no reason that What’s That Bug can’t coin the common name Tupelo Tree Borer for this beauty. Just before posting, we did find that the much less smooth sounding common names of Texas Bumelia Borer and Eastern Bumelia Borer are used for two subspecies. Thanks for your beautiful photo and thought provoking letter that has allowed us to digress and wax poetic.

Update: (07/28/2008)
Hope your lecture at the Getty went well! I do like your suggestion for a common name for Plinthocoelium suaveolens. Such a beautiful insect really should have one….You might petition the Entomological Society of America committee on common names….I could be tempted to do so on your behalf, actually.