From the monthly archives: "August 2008"

is this an ichneumon perhap
My grandson and I found this on a Tamarack tree in the backyard of our home here in southwestern Quebec. He appears to be depositing something in the tree. We would really appreciate your opinion. Thanks
Rory and Billy

Hi Rory and Billy,
This is a Horntail or Wood Wasp. We believe it is Urocerus albicornis according to images posted to BugGuide. The larvae of Horntails are wood boring and they are the primary hosts for the parasitic Giant Ichneumons in the genus Megarhyssa. Your photo is truly stunning.

We found this in Merrill, Wisconsin over the Fourth of July weekend. I had a man at a wilderness conservation place look at it and he couldn’t even point me to anything close to what exactly it is. Unique little guy. It was neat to watch his scary mouth open the closer you got to him. We kept him for a little bit but then sent back out into nature. No harm done.
Merrill Wisconsin

Hi Merrill,
Over the years, we have received countless images of Dobsonflies, and many were quite interesting, but we have never seen a crazier image of a male Dobsonfly than yours. This image is priceless.

Please tell us what kind of bee this is….
We live in the Rocky Mtns just west of Denver. Elevation about 9000. Thanks,

Tachinid Fly

Are you sure? The tachinid on the site looks yellow where this one is so orange and this one hangs on the flowers like a bee…..

Ed. Note: On occasion, in an effort to respond to as many readers as possible, we reply with a general identification. We have also misidentified more specimens than we care to admit. This is a Tachinid Fly in the family Tachinidae. According to BugGuide, this is the: “second-largest family in the order Diptera (behind Tipulidae) 1,345 species in 303 genera in North America listed at Tachinidae of America North of Mexico by O’Hara and Wood.” We do not have every single scientific name committed to memory, and it takes time to looks them up, so we gave a general answer as to the family. Since many Tachinid Flies do not resemble the one in the photo, our reader was confused. Upon being questioned, we decided to give a more specific answer. The fly in the photo is in the subfamily Tachinae. It may be Adejeania vexatrix, but we are leaning towards Paradejeania rutilioides, the Spiny Tachinid Fly. We fear that exact species identification is beyond our means as this generally requires a specialist, known as a Dipterist, and a physical specimen to examine. We are artists, not dipterists.

This huge centipede was IN MY UNDERWEAR for over an hour…please help!
I was running errands with my sister. Stopped in for a bottle of water and noticed something kinda “pokey” down in my underwear. Got back in car. Dropped trou. Nothing. Drove home. Felt poking again. Dropped my pants and Hello…this was there. Did it bite me? Exactly *how* alarmed should I be? I am in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He appears to match more than one photo on your website. This experience has made me question the existence of God. I am looking into inpatient therapy. Seriously. I can’t stop scratching my whole body. Did it *have* to be in my panties? My cousin says it’s “punishment for former misdeeds”, but I’m not all that bad. My sister can’t stop laughing.
Katie Hastie
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Hi Katie,
Your letter is so amusing. We don’t want to appear insensitive to your trauma, but your letter did make us chuckle as well. Since you have provided a nice sense of scale for your specimen, we can tell you that your Centipede is not huge, as there are reports of 8 inch long Centipedes, especially from Texas and Oklahoma. We believe this is Scolopendra heros, and though all specimens don’t have red heads, it is commonly called the Red Headed Centipede. If your youngster had bitten you, you would know it since Centipedes have venom and the bite is reported to be quite painful. It probably just wanted to find a nice warm spot to curl up and rest a bit.

Oooh! Thanks Daniel,
I’d kinda been thinking it was scolopendra polymorpha, but hey – you would know! I appreciate your response. I’ve been researching it for hours now…the good news is: statistically I can’t imagine that something like this could possibly happen to me twice in a lifetime! I think truly I was okay until I picked yesterday’s cargo pants up off the bathroom floor and put them on. He must have been in there. It’s actually a miracle that he didn’t show himself while I was behind the wheel – that would have made for a nasty pileup and a ridiculous story for the cops. Great work and many thanks,

Comment: (08/30/2008) Centipede bite feels like . . . Maui-style
Aloha Daniel –
Please tell Katie in Santa Fe that the bite of a centipede is nothing like you’ve ever felt before. Yes, she was very lucky it did not bite her as she drove. This memory is from over 12 years ago. I was bitten by an 8″ chocolate/red ‘pede in Hawai`i in my bed about 1/2 hour after going to sleep. You feel like a hot poker has jabbed you. Worse than a bee or wasp sting. Yes, there is a toxin injected into the body. There are usually two parallel bites – about 3/8″ long & about 1/8 wide. Treat yourself for shock – Vitamin C, “Rescue Remedy” by Bach, and then for flu – echinacea & golden seal tabs. Poultice of baking soda on the bite – water w/ a drop of Rescue Remedy. Years later, my semi-feral cat rolled onto one and got bit between the shoulder blades. About 3-4 days later the cat wanted me to open the wounds and drain them. Was very patient and tolerant of me squeezing the toxin and infection out of him. Suggest to Katie to keep her bathroom drains covered up. They come up them into our homes that way. Keep a pair of cooking/bar-b-que tongs handy to grab them. The folk tale in the islands is that someone is jealous and is sending those emotions and thoughts to her. Just an FYI – Enjoy your weekend! Thanks for all you do!

Correction:  January 7, 2009
Thats actually not Scolopendra heros they are far larger and do not occur in NM. That is Scolopendra polymorpha sometimes referred to as the desert tiger centipede.

Update June 2, 2014:  A similar experience
Subject: desert centipede
June 1, 2014 4:46 pm
I just wanted to comment on the experience of the gal with a centipede in her pants.  It just happened to me too.  I left my jeans thrown over the edge of the bathtub last night and put them back on in the morning to do yard work.  When I came inside, I felt something picky on my thigh and, having read her story, peeled off my jeans.  There was a 4″ centipede on the thigh of my jeans!  It is no longer with us.  I generally enjoy bugs and teach my grandkids to watch and enjoy them, but centipedes are the exception to the rule!  I have drain covers in my bathtubs to try to keep out the centipedes but they are still managing to get into my house.  Any idea how?  Last month I watched a centipede and a triangular shaped bug doing battle in the same bathroom and that was interesting.  The dark colored bug actually looked like it injected something into the side of the centipede and it appear to kill the centipede.   Any idea what that bug might have been?
Signature: Santa Fe Mary

Dear Santa Fe Mary,
We have added your comment to the original posting.  Perhaps the Centipedes are seeking a warm location much like Scorpions crawling into shoes at night.  We cannot think of what the predator you saw might be.

Butterfly ID
Dear Bugman,
I was trekking in Kasauli (lesser Himalayas) and came across this large 4.5 – 5.5 inches across and was wondering if you could id it for me. Thank you very much. Regards,

Hi Sajneet,
This is one of the Dead Leaf Butterflies, perhaps Kallima inachus or a closely related species. When the wings are closed, the Dead Leaf Butterfly is very difficult to spot because of its leaflike markings. There is even a false petiole or leaf stalk formed by the tail of the lower wings.

Bee? Beetle? in Illinois
Hi there! I stumbled across your website while looking for something about this insect. I saw it on a flower (the picture included) and thought it was a beetle. I was out collecting some flowers this afternoon and saw a whole bunch of them on some blanket flowers. I looked closer and noticed some stripes underneath, looking a lot like a bee. The striped abdomen is hidden in this picture. It’s under the beetle-looking yellow and black part. I live near Rockford, IL. Any help you can give me would be very welcome. Thanks!

Hi Katherine,
Your beetle is a Pennsylvania Leatherwing, Chauliognathus pensylvanicus, also known as the Goldenrod Soldier Beetle. It is commonly found in the fall in the eastern US on flowers gathering pollen.