From the monthly archives: "August 2008"

Moth ID please
Hi Bug man.
My 7 year old son turned me on to your site. I’ve been a bug collector all my life and it seems he’s following in my footsteps. I travel quite a bit and am required to pack a net. "Dad, you’ve got a net, right?" Last month I was on a fishing trip in Guerro Vincente Mexico. The fishing was on the slow side so I started checking some lights in and around the village. I found plenty of Satellite Sphinxes and some that appeared to be Carolina Sphinx. This one however has me stumped. It came to a light late at night at laundro mat. It is 5 3/8" in wing span. Any ideas? Also, I missed a larger moth that had "Atlas" type upper wings and was as flighty as a Black Witch. I’m still bummed. Thanks a million for teaching Josef so much in this field. Keep up the good work. I noticed your site doesn’t have: Elm, Waved, Abbots, Wild Cherry, Ash, Pandora, Laurel, Blind Eye, Cersey’s andTwin Spotted Sphinxes. ‘Want’ em?
Tim Borski

Hi Tim,
We quickly located your beautiful moth, Dysdaemonia boreas, on the World’s Largest Saturniidae Site, an amazing private access website with a membership. Dysdaemonia boreas is found in much of Mexico, Central America and South America. We located another image on a public access website, the Moths of Belize. We are going to copy Bill Oehlke on our reply as he may want your location information to add to his comprehensive sighting data. The other large Saturniid you describe may be one of the Rothschildia species. Regarding the missing Sphinx Moths you mentioned, we currently have 7 Sphinx Moth pages, and some of the species you mention are represented on our site. If you find any totally lacking, or underrepresented, please send us photos and data, like time of year, location, and anecdotal information our readership may find amusing.

I have spent hours searching the Internet and your site and the Holland book you recommended. Two of the attached pictures are of a moth with its wings open and closed; I though perhaps it could be a pine moth. The other picture (sorry it is a little fuzzy) is of a beautiful moth 3-4 inches in size. Any help is appreciated. These are taken near Prescott, Arizona in a pine forest. Love your site.
Jane Shrum

Hi Jane,
The moth with the open and closed wing view looks like a Pandora Moth, Coloradia pandora, which can be found on BugGuide. There are several other very similar looking species in the same genus also found in Arizona, but our money is on the Pandora Moth.

Black and tan Praying Mantis from southwest Texas
Until yesterday, I didn’t even know the Praying Mantis had any other color than green. We were on a hilltop 15 miles north of Brackettville, Tx which is in the southwest part of the state and I saw this little guy. His colors made me think of desert camo. Then I find your site and see all the many many varieties of Praying Mantis and I’m amazed! I didn’t see my guy on your site, although the Carolina Mantid on your page was similar in coloring. What’s that bug?
Genie Robinson
Brackettville, TX

Hi Genie,
Based on BugGuide, we believe this is a female Carolina Mantis, Stagmomantis carolina. We don’t believe your specimen is fully mature due to the small size of her wings. The female Carolina Mantis does not have fully developed, functional wings, but mature specimens have more noticeable wings than are represented in your photograph.

a wasp?
Several days ago I noticed caterpillars eating one of my patio plants…Today I witnessed something very interesting: a wasp-like insect appeared, flew under the leaf, pushed one of the caterpillars off to the ground, picked it up and then ate it! It needed little more than five minutes. By the time I got the camera, the caterpillar looked like a wasabi-pea (see the picture). Few hours later there was only one caterpillar left, and I won’t be surprised if it’s gone by tomorrow. I did google search and I think my little garden helper is a golden paper wasp. Am I right? Thanks:)
Monika, Fullerton, CA
PS. great site;)

Hi Monika,
Except for one detail, your account is very accurate. This is Polistes aurifer, and though BugGuide does not list a common name, the species name is analyzed as being: “Latin for ‘bearer of gold’ from aurum- ‘gold’ + fer- ‘that which bears, carries, wears’.” Wasps in the genus Polistes are known as Paper Wasps because of the nest which is composed of individual cells for developing wasps. Our very old version of Charles Hogue’s Insects of the Los Angeles Basin lists a common name of Golden Polistes, and still had it listed as a subspecies with the name Polistes fuscatus aurifer. Golden Paper Wasp is a very appropriate name for this wasp. Your inacuracy is that the adult wasps do not eat caterpillar. They feed on nectar and juice from fruits. Charles Hogue writes: “Adult wasps gather caterpillars, which they skin and chew before feeding them to the grub-like larvae developing in the cells.”

What’s my bug (caterpillar)
Hello you intelligent bug lovers!
On behalf of Yulee Elementary School in Yulee, FL, thanks for making this informative and colorful site. One of my co-workers has asked me to identify this species. She has it co-inhabiting a jar w/ oleander larvae. I have looked at all the submitted photos but still can’t decide what this is. Can you help? If you respond you’ll be informing almost 900 3rd-5th graders and their teachers. You may inspire a new generation of bug lovers. ps any hints on how we can feed it would also be appreciated.
Mary Austin-Harris,
Yulee, Florida

Hi Mary,
There was no way we were going to pass up the opportunity to educate almost 900 elementary school students and their teachers. This is an Imperial Moth Caterpillar, Eacles imperialis. According to BugGuide, they: “feed on leaves of Bald Cypress, basswood, birch, cedar, elm, hickory, Honeylocust, maple, oak, pine, Sassafras (Sassafras albidum ), Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), sycamore, walnut. “