From the monthly archives: "July 2008"

Part Dragonfly, Part Praying Mantis?
I found this very interesting insect in my backyard in Charleston, SC, on July 24, and it was ~1-1.5 inches long. When I found it, it was in the grass and looked like it had just ‘molted’/metamorphed because the wings were still kind of smooshed as if the bug had been crammed into a too-small container. I think it’s a praying mantis of some kind, but I couldn’t find any photos that looked like my critter! I know that mantids have wings, but these remind me of dragonfly wings in shape/coloration/vein pattern. And the kaleidoscopic eyes are something I’ve NEVER seen! Do you know what it is? Thanks,

Hi Kim,
This is a Mantidfly in the family Mantispidae, and probably in the genus Dicromantispa as evidenced by BugGuide. Despite their appearance, Mantidflies are not related to Mantids. We really love the close-up you have provided us. Your Mantidfly close-up photo looks like a glamorous Hollywood starlet portrait.

Query Damsel Flies mating followed by cannibalism
I was photographing these Eastern Forktail Damselflies (July 25th) and after mating the male appeared to be killing and eating the female. The wings actually fell off. I ‘Googled’ the query Damselfly Mating and Cannibalism and came to your site.
Marlene Walker
Huntsville, Ontario, Canada

Hi Marlene,
We are curious to hear from any experts regarding what we suspect is an unusual phenomenon. Postcoital Cannibalism is not that rare in the world of insects and arthropods since a male sperm donar will also provide a hearty meal for the female who now has the burdon of laying eggs. She needs her nourishment. The role reversal in your Damselfly image would seem to be an anomaly.

Correction: (09/03/2008)
Hello, I am a NY Dragonfly and Damselfly surveyor and am responding to the email below. The damselfly was identified as a male but it is in fact a female Eastern Forktail (Ischnura verticalis). While it is not common for a female to eat the male it is not unheard of. Dragonflies and damselflies are frequently seen eating other dragonflies and damselflies.
Annette Oliveira
Long Island, New York

Location is Hawthorne, CA – Volucella bombylans?
Dear Bugman,
I emailed you a while ago with a blurry photo of something I’d not seen before. Today I was able to get sharp shots of this bug and it’s prey. I’ve attached two of them in hopes that you will be able to tell me if it is a hoverfly. Thanks for your time! I’m in Hawthorne, California – please don’t send me directly to the Trash!!! Sincerely,
Anna Carreon

Hi Anna,
This is a species of Robber Fly known as a Bee Killer. It is Mallophora fautrix, which accoring to BugGuide, is the only species in the genus found in California. We received another photo a few days ago. Putting an unusual scientific name in your subject line was a good way to get our attention.

Hi Daniel,
Thanks for your information. A cousin of mine saw the posting of the Mallophora fautrix posted on your site and emailed me about it (I hadn’t been out to the site since the day before it was posted). What an interesting creature this is! I’d never seen one before, and my mother, who lives .3 miles away, is now in search of one in her back yard. She says she’s never seen one in her 77 years of life and she’s determined to see one in her next 77 years.

Broad Necked Root Borer
Dear Bugman!
My Boy Scouts and I found this insect outside my tent at Ockanickon Scout Reservation near Pipersville, Pennsylvania last week (07/08). It was about 2 inches long and what was fascinating was that it appeared to take a defensive posture and extended its “stinger” (propably not the right term but I am rather insect identification challenged!) I found your website and went through the beetle sections. I think it’s a Broad Necked Root Borer, but didn’t see any with the “stinger”. Your opinion, and an explanation of the “stinger” would be greatly appreciated and educational for the Scouts. This is an awesome website! Thank you,
JoAnn Campbell
Assistant Scoutmaster
Troop 140
Blairstown, NJ

Hi JoAnn,
Your Broad Necked Root Borer, Prionus laticollis, is a female, and the stinger is her ovipositor. She needs a means by which to deposit her eggs deep inside the wood.

is this some kind of Blister Beetle?
Hi, just found your web site – awesome bugs.
I am in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and found this beautiful bug on a poppy leaf this afternoon. The only thing that I can find that sort of resembles it is the blister beetle, however it has a dull plain back and only the head parts and some of the under belly are iridescent. Can you ID? Thanks

Hi D,
Your are correct. This is a Blister Beetle. We believe it is in the genus Lytta. We found a match on BugGuide, also from Canada, but it is not identified to the species level. We will contact Eric Eaton to see if he can comment.

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.

Hope your still working this site. I have a bug i found in Southern Alberta Canada, could be a *”Broad-toothed Stag Beetle”.* but i dont think it is. If you can, please let me know what this very flat `beetle` might be. see attached 4 pictures. they are not that great cause of bad lighting and he wouldnot stop moving 🙂 oh well. Thanks,

Hi Danny,
Your beetle is actually a Clown Beetle in the genus Hololepta, in the family Histeridae. You can find more photos on Bugguide.