From the monthly archives: "August 2008"

Need to know what this is
Photo taken in woods in northern Indiana. August 27, 2008 One inch or a little smaller in length. About ten on one plant. Don’t know what the plant is. Thanks Much,
John Hicks

Hi John,
Though it resembles a caterpillar, this is actually a Sawfly Larva known as a Butternut Woolly Worm, Eriocampa juglandis. According to BugGuide, they: “feed on leaves of Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) and Butternut (Juglans cinerea). Also reported on Carya spp. (Hickory).”

please identify
These seem to have moved into the base of my willow tree and i am worried that they might be harming the tree. can you tell me if i need to take measures to discurage them from my tree.

Your wasps are Cicada Killers and there is no need to worry about them harming your trees. Adult wasps feed on nectar and pollen and the female stings and paralyzes cicadas to provision a solitary underground nest for her young. Cicada Killers help control the Cicada population, and Cicadas may harm your trees by feeding on plant sap at the roots when they are immature. Additionally, the female damages twigs when laying eggs, so the presence of Cicada Killers may benefit your tree. We have gotten reports of large colonies of Cicada Killers frightening people, but they are rather benign insects, though the occasional sting is reported to be painful. While it is interesting that you have titled your photograph “Nasty New Freeloaders” we feel the name is unjustified.

What is this big juicy brown, vivid green and iridescent blue caterpillar?!
I live in Hokkaido in northern Japan, and yesterday I found a bush that is absolutely COVERED with these caterpillars. The leaves in the photo are about half my palm size and the caterpillar is as long and as thick as my thumb.
They are fleshy, not hairy, with two bright yellow, black and blue eye spots, and bright iridescent blue speckles all over them. I think they are a moth of some kind but can’t get any closer than that. Help!
Vicky in Hokkaido

hi Vicky,
This is most certainly a Sphinx Caterpillar or Hawk Moth Caterpillar in the family Sphingidae. We located a website of Sphingidae from Japan, but it is difficult to search and does not have caterpillar images. We have contacted Bill Oehlke to see if he recognizes the species. This is a gorgeous caterpillar.

Update: (08/27/2008)
Beautiful image, but I am not sure it is a Sphingid, as pose with posterior end raised is not typical of any Sphingidae as far as I know.
Bill Oehlke

Update: (08/27/2008)
Thank you for your very quick reply! You are right, it is gorgeous, but I have a surfeit of them – they are DEVOURING one of my bushes in my garden! My Japanese-reading son got out some bug books and he found out that it is an “Akebi Konoha” in Japanese, and its latin name is Adris tyrannus amurenseis, which as far as I can tell doesn’t have a common name. As I am ignorant about moth varieties this could well be a sphynx caterpillar…… On Googling a bit more and looking in the dictionary, we found that Akebi is the name of the plant it lives on, which is translated as a Chocolate Vine in English, and yes, that is what they are chomping on! So it seems to be a fairly specialised thing…. We found a Japanese site here, with photos of more caterpillars and the adult moth – DOES it have a common name? Thanks again for your help – I hate not knowing what things are, yet living in Japan it’s very hard for me to look stuff up intelligently and often the western websites don’t have the exact same things on them. I’m glad too that you found it interesting. They really are beautiful, if not a bit revolting en masse!
Vicky in Hokkaido

Hi Vicky,
We were incorrect about this being a Sphinx Moth. It is a Fruit Piercing Moth.

I live in northern KY. This bug was found on Northern KY University’s campus in May or June. He is probably about an inch long, flies and his antennae are long and hairy. What is he???

Hi Shannon,
But for the extreme hairiness of the antennae, your beetle is a near perfect match to the Six Banded Longhorn, Dryobius sexnotatus, pictured on BugGuide. BugGuide also indicates it is “Uncommon (2)and listed as rare and endangered on several websites.”

Update: (08/28/2008)
The longhorned beetle is identified correctly. Some images show how hairy the antennae are, and some images don’t. It is all in the lighting and resolution. I lived in Cincinnati (across the Ohio River from No. Kentucky U.) for eleven years, and never saw a Dryobius in all the time I spent in forested areas there.

Possible Cicada Killers and What’s Happening to Them?
My name is Lacie Blevins and I am from Mulvane, KS, just outside of Wichita, KS. My children and I were outside playing and noticed that we were able to find an usually large number of Cicada shells in our backyard, at least in my opinion considering we’d never seen quite that many in one area before. While looking for more Cicada shells, we noticed three dead insects, which my five-year-old daughter expertly [sarcasm] believed to be a dead bumblebee, and I a hornet, all underneath one of our trees; coincidentally, we found them under the tree with the highest number of cicada shells on and around it. After finding your website, I believe that they are Cicada Killers, but the size being reported didn’t seem to match what I found in my backyard. I have included a picture of one of the insects that I picked up out of my yard. Could you tell me if I have correctly identified the insect and what could be happening to them? I understand from your website that the Cicada Killer wasps are nothing to be afraid of, but can you tell me if there is something bigger and nastier out there that I should be worried about? Thanks,
Lacie Blevins

Hi Lacie,
Late August is about the end of the time of year you will be observing Cicada Killers, so it is possible they have just died of old age. It is also possible they have been attacked by some predator. Though we have never seen a photograph, it is possible they were attacked by one of the larger Robber Flies like a Bee Killer.