From the monthly archives: "January 2009"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Unknown caterpillars
Mon, Jan 5, 2009 at 4:20 AM
I thought I picked two brown caterpillars with fake eyes from my mother’s penta plant in Sun City Florida yesterday. When I opened the jar to photograph them this morning, I had two browns and two greens, all with false eyes. I never kill bugs without knowing what they are but I can’t find these in my caterpillar book.
V Parsons
Central Florida

Tersa Sphinx Caterpillar: Brown Morph

Tersa Sphinx Caterpillar: Brown Morph

Dear V,
Both the green caterpillars and the brown caterpillars are the same species.  The Tersa Sphinx, like many other Sphinx Moths, have caterpillars in different colors.  These different morphs probably aid in the survival of the species.  Predators that notice the brown caterpillars may not notice the green individuals just inches away.  To see images of the adult moth and to read more about the Tersa Sphinx, Xylophanes tersa, you can search Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.

Tersa Sphinx Caterpillar: Green Morph

Tersa Sphinx Caterpillar: Green Morph

Thank you so much! I gave the caterpillars to a friend with a lot of penta and a six-year-old grandaughter who loves bugs — she’ll take good care of them 🙂

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

South African Grasshopper
Mon, Jan 5, 2009 at 7:43 AM
Photographed at Cape Point, SA. A photo is attached.
Brett
Cape Point, South Africa

Immature Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper

Immature Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper

Hi Brett,
This is an immature Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper, AKA Gaudy Grasshopper, AKA Bushlocust, in the family Pyrgomorphidae.  It may be Phymateus saxosus, but we are not certain.  Grasshoppers in this family feed on toxic milkweed and stores the toxic compounds in their bodies.  If injested, sickness or possibly even death may result.  The warning colors are a signal to not eat.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Australian Bug
Sun, Jan 4, 2009 at 4:25 PM
Hi There Bugman!!
I found your email address on a site and wondered if you could help with the identification of the attached bug he is 6 – 7″ long and very calm and happy to be on my porch – not sure if I like him there though!!!
Thankyou
Angie
Qld Australia

Goliath Stick Insect

Goliath Stick Insect

Hi Angie,
With not too much effort, we identified your Stick Insect as the Goliath Stick Insect, Eurycnemma goliath which feeds on the leaves of eucalyptus trees. We first located it on the Brisbane Insect Web Site, which incidates “Goliath Stick Insects are the master of camouflage. We notice that they have at least the following methods to hide themselves from predators;
1. Their bodies, colour and shape made them look like part of the plant.
2. When staying motionless, they always put their front legs in front of their head, to made themselves look more like part of the plant.
3. They usually feed at night, during the day time they just hang motionless on the plants.
4. They eat the whole leaf, usually they do not leave part of the leaf uneaten, like most grasshoppers do.
5. Even when they move, they simulate the swaying motion, like the movement caused by the wind blowing.
6. Their eggs, called ova, look like seeds, so the predators do not notice the insect by the seeds.
7. They discard their dropping, called frass, very far away so that the predators do not notice the insect.”
Then we found more information on raising it in captivity on the Microcosmos Website.  Also, we believe he is a she.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

White Witch Moth?
Mon, Jan 5, 2009 at 12:38 AM
This specimen was a passerby on the ship Skandi Neptune in the Gulf of Mexico Jan4/09. About 60 nautical miles from nearest land, Mississippi delta. Ship hasn’t been in port since Dec.10th.
Greg Rivers
28°12’57″N 088°33’30″W

Owl Moth

Owl Moth

Hi Greg,
The White Witch is a massive specimen with the largest wingspan of any butterfly or moth. We believe your specimen is an Owl Moth, Thysania zenobia, which can be viewed on the Moth Photographers Group Web Site.  Some of the Owlet Moths, including the Black Witch, are powerful fliers and it is possible they may fly or be blown far out to sea.  It is possible your ship picked up an extra passenger while sailing and not while docked.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Help with skippers
Sun, Jan 4, 2009 at 10:15 AM
Dears Bugman:
Try as I might, I’m just not confident in my ID’s of all those pesky little orange skippers in my garden and lawn. I’m getting pretty good at the rest of the butterflies, but those skippers–yeeeshh!

Grass Skipper 1

Grass Skipper 1

I think I’ve been able to ID sachems and Peck’s skippers, but I wouldn’t bet my reputation on it (what little reputation there is). Wonder if you could take a look at the attached pics and give me a clue. I’ve also attached pics of a couple interesting moths I couldn’t ID. All these photos were taken summer 2008. Much obliged! (P.S. love your site!)
John Meredig
Spencer County, Southwest Indiana

Grass Skipper 2

Grass Skipper 2

Dear John,
Your letter is quite amusing, and we are quite certain the peskiness you mention has more to do with trying to identify the species than it does with the behavior of the Skippers. We too are quite frustrated when attempting to identify species of Skippers, and we generally just lump them all together as Grass Skippers in the subfamily Hesperiinae, which Jeffrey Glassberg describes in Butterflies Through Binoculars The West as: “Generally smaller than spread-wing skippers, most grass skippers have a rapid darting flight. When landed, theri wings are kept completely closed (often), or with the HWs [hind wings] more or less completely open but with the FWs [fore wings] only partially opened, forming a V or U. Males usually have a black ‘stigma’ on the FW that contains specialized sex scales. The characteristics of the stigma are sometimes useful for identification.”

Grass Skipper 3

Grass Skipper 3

We are sorry we cannot assist you more with exact species identification and we hope our own reputation has not suffered adversely because of this. We are posting all of your Grass Skipper images in the hopes that our readership can assist in the identification, though we would not eliminate the possibility that they are all the same species. Your photos are quite excellent and we hope you consider sending us some other underrepresented butterfly species one at a time for possible posting consideration.

Grass Skippers 4

Grass Skippers 4

Update
Re: Help with skippers – Jan 4, 2009
Happy New Year Daniel:
Indeed, the little orange grass skippers can be frustrating. However, John’s excellent photos clearly show the very large, squarish, black stigma that is characteristic of a male Sachem (Atalopedes campestris). There’s always room for some uncertainty when dealing with grass skippers, but I am reasonably certain about this one. Regards.
Karl

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Mystery Tanzanian bug
Sun, Jan 4, 2009 at 10:07 AM
Mystery Tanzanian bug
Dear WTB,
I’m hoping someone can help me identify this splendid black and red specimen that was given to me as a Christmas present (yes really!) last week by the manager of the Sable Mountain safari lodge in the Selous game reserve, eastern Tanzania. He didn’t know what it is either, but he thought I might like it (!).
It was about 2 inches long in the body and has a strange curved mouthpart. Sorry the photo is blurry as it was camera shy and kept moving!
Sally
Selous game reserve, Tanzania

Red Spot Assassin Bug

Red Spot Assassin Bug

Hi Sally,
Your strikingly beautiful insect is a Red Spot Assassin Bug, Platymeris laevicollis, which we located on the Saint Louis Zoo Website, or a closely related species.  If mishandled, Assassin Bugs will deliver a painful bite.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination