From the monthly archives: "November 2008"

Is this a scarab beetle?
Fri, Nov 28, 2008 at 8:48 AM
Dear Folks,
Could you please help me identify the beetle in the attached pictures? The closest match I could find was a scarab beetle. For the past few weeks (November) our cats have been bringing these into the house. I can’t remember ever having seen them outside in the garden and I thought I was pretty familiar with most of the larger insects we have here in southwest Oregon.
They are a little over 1 inch long with a lot of what looks like fur on their underside and legs. I am sorry the pictures are so poor; we only have one of those point and shoot cameras without any setting to take close-ups of less than 3 feet.
Your site is where I go first whenever I come upon an unknown insect. I’m immensely grateful for the work you’ve put into this. Thank you so very much.
Elizabeth Hunter
Grants Pass Oregon

Rain Beetle

Rain Beetle

Hi Elizabeth,
Until today, we would have begun our response with “Yes this is a Scarab Beetle” and then gone on to further classify it as a Rain Beetle. We have just learned, upon visiting BugGuide, that Rain Beetles are no longer considered to be in the family Scarabaeidae, but have been classified into their own family, Pleocomidae . Only male Rain Beetles can fly. The female Rain Beetle remains buried deep underground in a burrow and must wait for a male Rain Beetle to locate her so they can mate. According to BugGuide, there is a single genus, Pleocoma, in the family Pleocomidae, and the genus has 34 species that range in: “Western Coastal North America, from Southern Washington to northern Baja California, Mexico and Utah. ” The individual species of Rain Beetle often has a very limited range. Rain Beetle Grubs feed underground on the roots of oaks and conifers. We are thrilled to have your images and letter for our archives, and we will be creating a new beetle category for Rain Beetles and moving the earlier postings out of the Scarab Beetle category.

Rain Beetle

Rain Beetle

Dear Daniel,
Thank you so much for your answer; I hadn’t really expected a response as I am sure you must be besieged with questions. This made my day!
The next time one of the cats presents me with a Rain Beetle I will try to get better pictures.
Thanks again for the terrific site.
Best regards,
Elizabeth

Milbert’s Tortoiseshell
Fri, Nov 28, 2008 at 6:43 AM
Hello Bugman:
As another Canadian winter settles in I take cheer in organizing the mountain of photos that accumulate during our short but brilliant summers. Here is another one of my favourite North American butterflies, the Milbert’s Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis milberti). Not only are they strikingly beautiful, they are also very widespread (most of Canada south of the tundra, and northern and western USA, particularly the mountain states). This adult was photographed in a high alpine meadow in the southern Alberta Rockies, and the larvae are from southeastern Manitoba. Our winters are long up here and one of the sure signs of spring is the re-emergence of these creatures in early spring. They are around all summer and one of the last to disappear in late autumn, when the adults go into hibernation. Another endearing feature; the caterpillars feed almost exclusively on stinging nettle! Regards.
Karl

Milbert's Tortoiseshell

Milbert's Tortoiseshell

Hi Karl,
Thank you for sending your excellent photos of two phases in the metamorphosis of the Milbert’s Tortoiseshell as well as the detailed information on the species.  This is an excellent addition to our archive.

Milbert's Tortoiseshell Caterpillars

Milbert's Tortoiseshell Caterpillars

Possible trapdoor spider?
Thu, Nov 27, 2008 at 3:06 PM
Hi there,
I found this specimen on my porch in the last stages of life. It is black and appears to have a light brown bulbous sac at one end. Also, it looks like it has ten legs. Is it a trapdoor spider perhaps?
Many thanks,
Patrick Cates
Echo Park, Los Angeles, CA 90026

California Trapdoor Spider

California Trapdoor Spider

Hi Patrick,
Greetings from Mount Washington, across the Los Angeles River.  This is a male California Trapdoor Spider, Bothriocyrtum californicum.  Thanks to human expansion into their habitat, they are becoming increasingly rarer in the Los Angeles area.  During the rainy season, we would encounter male California Trapdoor Spiders searching for the burrows of prospective mates in the hills of Glassell Park when we lived there, and in our current location in Mount Washington.  Your proximity to Elyssian Park is probably a contributing factor to this encounter.  Charles Hogue, in his book Insects of the Los Angeles Basin, wrote:  “The spider prefers to build its nest on sunny south-facing dry hillsides, which in the spring bear a thick covering of short grasses and low herbs.  Such areas are becoming increasingly rare in the basin … .”  Just today, we pitched an article idea for our local newsletter entitled “Look What Crawled Out in the Rain” with the intention of writing about both the California Trapdoor Spider and the Potato Bug.

Garden Bug: Good or Evil?
Thu, Nov 27, 2008 at 2:29 PM
We have a number of these in the front garden. They seem to like the roses and the Mexican Heather. The long proboscis makes it look like some kind of sap-sucking guy, or … is it some kind of assassin bug? I couldn’t find it here, or in any of the common bug guides. So, should I be letting these guys run free, or should I be squishing ’em?
Bug Hunter
Los Angeles, California

Leaf Footed Bug:  genus Leptoglossus

Leaf Footed Bug: genus Leptoglossus

Dear Bug Hunter,
This is a Leaf Footed Bug or Big Legged Bug in the genus Leptoglossus.  We believe, based on a description on BugGuide, that this is Leptoglossus brevirostris.  BugGuide does not have images of the species, has this description:  “Reduced irregular yellow-white cross-stripe is mostly confined to veins.”  We have seen members of the genus Leptoglossus in Los Angeles feeding on pomegranates and tomatoes, sucking the juices from the fruit and leaving unsightly blemishes.

Guenee’s Emerald, Chlorocoma melocrossa
Thu, Nov 27, 2008 at 6:08 PM
Hi guys,
Have been having a bit of a problem tracking this guy down but near as I can find is Guenee’s Emerald, Chlorocoma melocrossa, one of the geometridae but unlike the examples I have seen on the net this one has no wing markings.
Taken in the Capricornia Region, Queensland
aussietrev
Capricornia Region, Queensland

Guenee's Emerald from Australia

Guenee's Emerald from Australia

Hi Trevor,
The Emeralds are a very distinctive group of Geometrid Moths.  Thanks for allowing our readership to see what one of the Australian species looks like.

Looks like a bumblebee crossed with a lobster
Wed, Nov 26, 2008 at 9:02 PM
Bugman,
My husband found this bug outside our sliding glass door tonight. We live in the San Francisco Bay Area. We get a lot of wildlife in our yard, and I’ve seen quite a few interesting bugs, including black widows, wolf spiders, and lots of bees. In fact, at first I thought that this bug was a bumblebee, but then I noticed the head, which looks completely different. The bug is about 3 inches long and appears not to have any wings. I couldn’t find any pictures online to identify it. Any idea what it is? Thanks!
ER
Northern California – San Francisco Bay Area

Potato Bug

Potato Bug

Hi ER,
Potato Bugs or Jerusalem Crickets like the one in your photo are one of our most frequently requested identifications, so much so that we only post a fraction of the letters we receive.  We get so many requests that along with House Centipedes, Potato Bugs are at the top of the Top Ten list.  We really like your description, and your photo is quite good, so we thought it was time to have a new photo of a Potato Bug on our Homepage, especially since they are frequently seen after rains in the Western part of the country.