From the monthly archives: "August 2008"

Parasitic invasion of chrysalis
A friend gave me a beautiful chrysalis yesterday to watch and photograph. This morning the container to swarming with little flying insects. I moved it outside and found two holes in the chrysalis that the bugs were emerging from. What are the flying insects, and have they probably attacked whatever moth or butterfly was forming in the coccoon? Thank you very much for any information.
Cindy Donegan

Hi Cindy,
Your distinctive Monarch Butterfly Chrysalis has been parasitized by minute Chalcid Wasps. According to BugGuide, there are over 2200 North American species, but since you did not provide us with a location, there may be more or less where you made this observation. BugGuide also states: “They are used as pest controls because they parasitize mainly the orders that contain many common pests: Lepidoptera, Diptera, Coleoptera and Homoptera.”

(Image attached!) Tiny green spider with interesting markings! Georgetown, Ohio
(If you have already opened and read my first message, I offer my sincerest apologies. I did not attach the image in the previous message.)
I found this spider on a tomato plant in my backyard today. I realize the photograph is not as high-resolution as it could be, but this spider was only half the size of a grain of rice so it was somewhat difficult to get a good shot with my six megapixel camera. It’s like nothing I’ve seen before, and the yellow and red pattern on its back was astounding in its symmetry and seemed unusually detailed for an insect of this size. The closest thing I could find to it on your site was a spider referred to as Araneus Cingulatus, but, while somewhat similar in color and markings, varies in its size, shape, and type of pattern. Any info on this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Alan K.

Hi Alan,
People are always sending us emails and forgetting to attach the images. This is an Orb Weaver, and it looks to be Araneus cingulatus based on an image posted to BugGuide.

spider in the underwear drawer
Hello Bugman,
We found this little beast peeking out of one of our dresser drawers last night. It saw us coming a mile away, so we failed to catch it. Presumably he makes his home in the dresser. It’s about 1″ across (including legs). From pictures I can find on the internet, I think it looks a little like a red jumping spider, but the body and legs are lighter in color and more variegated. What do you think? We live in Los Angeles, CA. Thanks,

Hi Malia,
We think that thanks to this Jumping Spider, your drawers are free from bugs. This is a Jumping Spider in the genus Phidippus. It may be Phidippus clarus which is highly variable, or perhaps Phidippus johnsoni, another highly variable species, or it may be another species in this highly variable genus.

Bug ID help Requested
Hi there,
These were observed last month, on the leaf undersides of a birch sapling, in S.W. Hillsboro County ,New Hampshire . Are they maybe Aphids ??. There were large groups of them on the underside of many leaves. Hoping you can help me, as I have spent countless hours searching your site, the internet and even the book "Field Guide to Insects of N.A." by Eaton and Kaufman, which I bought last weekend. I took some fairly accurate measurements of them, on a ( US ) one cent for size comparison. Small bug is on Lincoln ‘s chin. Measurements from Precision 7X Magnifier with Measuring Plate. Large Bug: .075 long x .050 wide (1.9mm x 1.27mm) Small Bug: .050 long x .025 wide (1.27mm x .635mm) I still am not sure if these are aphids. By the way, WTB is a really great site !!
Thanks for any help or insight you can provide.
Dick B.

Hi Dick,
Other than knowing that these are Hemipterans, we are stumped. We have contacted Eric Eaton for assistance. Your photos are quite detailed, and your written account is quite thorough, so we are fully confident that Eric will either provide the answer, of know who to contact for the answer.

Update: (08/26/2008)
Hi, Daniel:
The tiny hemipterans are, in all likelihood, nymphs of a lacebug, family Tingidae. I’ll get a friend of mine, who is a lacebug expert, to confirm this. The image with multiple individuals is clearly a collection of shed exoskeletons left behind after molting:-) Many insects seem to have synchronous molts like this. Keep up the great work, don’t be afraid to refer folks over to Bugguide, as we’ve got lots of people who can ID stuff, do it pretty quickly, and correctly most of the time. We will accept images of insects from elsewhere, too, they just would not stay in the guide permanently. Might relieve some of your burden?

Confirmation: (08/26/2008)
Here is Laura Miller’s answer. She is a leading authority on lacebugs.

Hi Eric,
Good to hear from you. I don’t understand exactly what you want me to do about the “reply to all”. But I can tell you the answer here anyway. They sure are lace bug nymphs and the second set of pictures are lace bug exuvia. If he is seeing them on birch, they’re either Corythucha heidemanni or C. pallipes but at least I’m sure they’re Corythucha sp. Cheers,

Mating Colias Butterflies and a not-so-Common Wood Nymph
Hi Bugman,
Thanks for your great site! You’ve helped me identify lots of critters through your pictures and links from my yard here in Western PA, east of Pittsburgh. I sent you two pictures of mating Colias Butterflies and one picture of a very elusive guest that had me stumped both by its appearance and behavior. The Common Wood Nymph would not let me get near enough to take a good picture. As I approached it would flit away and hide on the underside of a downspout out of range. As I moved away, it would return to the flowers. It did this five or six times, finally flitting to a large white pine and hiding itself thoroughly on the underside of a branch. I could see the eye spots, but there was no way that I had the equipment to take the photo. If I left and took my eyes off the thing, I’d never find it again. I have lived in this area most of my life and have never seen this distinctive butterfly. How common are they really? Or are they just “common” elsewhere than here? Thanks for all your help!

We believe your mating Sulphur Butterflies are Clouded Sulphurs, Colias philodice, but it is possible they are another species in the genus. Wood Nymphs, like many butterflies, may be very numerous in one area, and a mile away they may never be seen. Insects often have very localized populations.

What’s this bug?
Can you identify what this hornet? is? I’m from the UK. Thanks for your help.

Hi Rob,
This is not a hornet. It is a fly. More specifically, it is a Hover Fly in the family Syrphidae, tribe Volucellini and genus/species Volucella inanis, which we located after a bit of research. In the U.S. there is a space between the words hover and fly, but the UK website that identified your specimen does not include the space. In the US, since this is a true fly, the word fly is given autonomy in the common name to distinguish a true fly from other flying insects like butterflies, dragonflies or dobsonflies. Many Hover Flies, which are also called Flower Flies, mimic bees and wasps. This could be a protective mimicry when they are feeding since they cannot sting, but the insects they mimic can. Larvae of this fly are scavengers in bumble-bee or wasp nests.