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

Same colours as the German flag!
Mon, Mar 30, 2009 at 12:41 AM
Hi,
My backyard has heaps of these bugs. They tend to hide behind bark. I have never seen them fly. I always have a seed bell hanging from a tree to attract mostly rainbow lorrikeets. The bugs swarm over the bell when the birds have gone. What are they and most importantly are they a danger to plant and tree life ?
Regards Henry Janten
Deer Park Victoria Australia

Unknown Australian True Bug

Harlequin Bug from Australia

Dear Henry,
We didn’t have any luck identifying your True Bug in the order Hemiptera on the Brisbane Insect website. The behavior you describe is similar to North American Boxelder Bugs in the family Rhopalidae, the Scentless Plant Bugs. Other good candidates are the family Lygaeidae, the Seed Bugs or Largidae, the Bordered Plant Bugs. Hopefully one of our readers will write in with an identification.

Update: Unidentified True Bug from Australia
Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 9:20 AM
Daniel:
I believe this beautiful true bug is in the genus Dindymus (Pyrrhocoridae), probably D. versicolour . The common name in Australia is Harlequin Bug (sometimes Fire Bug), although that name also seems to be applied to several related species. They are considered a plant pest, particularly on fruit trees. As the species name suggests, they show considerable variation on color. Another possibility might be D. ventralis. Regards.
Karl
http://www.ento.csiro.au/aicn/name_s/b_1393.htm

Thanks Karl,
Seems we overlooked the Fire Bug on the Brisbane Insect Website because of the coloration not matching the photo we received.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Long, bright orange beetle with black wings
Sun, Mar 29, 2009 at 4:12 PM
I found a bunch of these orange and black beetles while airsofting in Arizona and I am not exactly sure what they are. They were in large groups in the grassy areas crawling on eachother. Is it a type of desert beetle?
JKAZ
Arizona, United States

Master Blister Beetles

Master Blister Beetles

Hi JKAZ,
Every year in the spring, we get numerous inquiries about Blister Beetles, especially from the desert areas of the Southwest. When Blister Beetles appear, it is often in prodigious numbers, and then suddenly, they vanish. This is a Master Blister Beetle, Lytta magister. It is well represented on BugGuide. This is one of the largest of the Blister Beetles. The adults eat foliage, flowers, pollen and fruit, and according the BugGuide: “Larvae live in bee nests.” Some species of Blister Beetles feed on grasshopper eggs. The beetles in the family Meloidae are known as Blister Beetles because they secrete hemolymph (blood) from their joints when handled, and the hemolymph contains cantharidin which can cause blisters. A European relative is the infamous Spanish Fly. Congratulations on having your letter and image chosen as our Bug of the Month for April 2009.


What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

blue green centipede
Sat, Mar 28, 2009 at 5:22 PM
I caught this wonderfull little guy in El Dorado Hills California while on a job. I have had him/her for nearly a year and feed it tiny crickets. Just buying more when i notice no more crickets in the cage,
I think it is a giant centipede but have not been able to find one of similar color that should be living in this part of the world.
Ryan
El Dorado Hills, California, USA

Multicolored Centipede

Multicolored Centipede

Hi Ryan,
Though El Dorado Hills is several hundred miles north of Los Angeles, we believe your beautiful centipede is a Multicolored Centipede, Scolopendra polymorpha.  Here is what Charles Hogue writes in Insects of the Los Angeles Basin:  “This is a fairly large enctipede, attaining a maximum length of 3 to 4 inches (7 to 10 cm).  It varies in color from clear or dark olive yellow to greenish brown; the rear borders of the back plates are mostly dark green.  Practically nothing is known about its biology, other than that its general habitat is the same as for most centipedes – secluded places in contact with logs, rocks or the ground.  The bite of this species may be painful.  Although there are no data on the effects of its poison on humans, it is probably harmless.  Contrary to popular belief, the sharp claws on the legs are not poisonous. although the last pair of legs is capable of pinching.”  BugGuide reports this species from several western states and has numerous photos that look very much like your specimen.

 

Multicolored Centipede

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Unknown bug pictures included
Sat, Mar 28, 2009 at 6:26 AM
We are finding these bugs at our house. A few weeks ago we found 2 very small bugs (babies) that flew into the house. They appeared to be attreacted to lampshades or light fixtures. We are now seeing larger ones outside hanging out on the outside of our sliding glass door and windows. This particular bug is 3/4 of an inch from tip of ‘tail’ to tip of anntenae. They look like ants with wings, but with long anttenae and a possible stinger from the back portion. It is straight and does not ever appear curved or fluid in movement. We are not seeing a tremendous amount, and only one at a time seems to be around.
Vickie
Maryland

Ichneumon:  genus Pimpla???

Ichneumon: genus Pimpla???

Hi Vickie,
This is an Ichneumon, a family of parasitic wasps that prey on a variety of host insects and arthropods.  Ichneumons will not harm you nor your home, and they are important biological controls for keeping insect populations in check.  We believe your example may be in the genus Pimpla as evidenced by images posted to BugGuide.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

the Party Millipides of Panama
Sat, Mar 28, 2009 at 4:26 AM
I just came back from Panama, where I spent the past five weeks with my fellow Animal Behavior and Zoology classmates from the Evergreen State College. We were out in some secondary tropical lowland forest near our home base, looking for anoles, when I found a patch of freaky-looking critters clumped together on the side of a large, living, lichen-enrobed tree in a swampy part of the forest. At first glance I didn’t even take them for arthropods; they looked like crazy armored flatworms. There were about nine adults, with four or five younger ones (about a third the size of the adults) scattered among them. I whipped out my trusty specimen container (don’t leave home without it!) and collected two adults and a little one.
When I got back to our quarters, I showed them to Pete, who runs ITEC (the Institute for Tropical Ecology and Conservation, our very cool laboratory/dormitory/home- away-from-home). He confirmed my suspicions that they were a millipede, although he didn’t know the species. He noted that he’d often seen them, and that every time he had, they were in large groups with adults and young, like I’d seen, and in the open on the sides of trees. I was intrigued, and kept my eyes out for them for the rest of the trip.
Bizarrely, I next ran into them on a trail in the cloud forests surrounded El Valle, the crater of an extinct volcano. This was a big group, numbering over sixty, and in this group there were big white patches of REALLY young ones, like the little pale ones pictured here. Again, they were in the open, during the day, on the side of a large dead tree. I collected more specimens to keep my two at home company (the young one had died, but the two adults were living seemingly very contentedly in a habitat of moss and dead wood I’d made for them in a beaker). Unfortunately, this batch did not survive the trip through Panama City and back home to ITEC.
I next came upon them on a small dead tree overhanging a stream at the mouth of La Gruta caves, where we were batwatching. The undersides of the largest of the tree branches were covered in patches of white young, ringed by adults. The colony extended to the outermost stalactites of the cave. The midsized juveniles were scattered among the adults on the tree, but not among the adults on the stalactites or on the fallen branches caught in the dead tree.
I collected adults, young, and juveniles, and, after some experimenting (which I’ll spare you, as this message is already beyond overlong, but hey, you asked for “as much narrative and information as possible”, and by gods you’re going to get it) discovered that the adults stuck by their young, even if there was a disadvantage in terms of food/shelter (both are kinda the same thing for these guys) in doing so. Furthermore, the millipedes preferred the company of adults that they had been captured near, even after being Randomized (which isn’t nearly as ominous as it sounds).
I can’t for the life of me figure out why this might be. They don’t give off any detectable chemical defense, so their only defense seems to be armor, which would do their soft, pale babies not very much good. So why group them all together in a big white honking advertisement to the local insectivore population? They live on their food source, so I don’t think that feeding them is a motivator. Frankly, I’m puzzled. Any ideas, or recommendations of people who might have ideas?

Millipedes from Panama

Millipedes from Panama

For that matter, I’m not entirely sure what these guys even ARE. I keyed them out in an ancient book on the milipides of Costa Rica and Panama while I was in ITEC, and came up with Platydesmus subovatus, but there were no pictures and, not being an entomologist by training, some of the subtleties of the anatomy described escaped me. When I came back to the ‘States and was able to check online, I became more certain that they belong in the order Platydesmida. Beyond that, though, I’m lost; they frankly look like little dun clones of Brachycybe, which are Andrognathids, but from what (very little) I’ve been able to discern, Brachycybe is a genus that is limited to the continental United States. There are other Andrognathids that look, from pictures, a lot less like these guys, though, and I have yet come across a picture of any Platydesmid (the eponymous other family within the order Platydesmidae), so I can’t tell if the really different-looking Andrognathids are just highl y derived (meaning that the sluggy looking dudes like Brachycybe and my little guys are potentially just the basal look for the Platydesmid order) or if I’ve actually got a sister taxon to Brachycybe. Or maybe they just converged to look like robotic leeches. I really don’t know.
There are gods only know how many species of millipede in the Neotropics; I don’t expect anyone to pin these guys down to species given two rather blurry photos, but if you could help me get down to genus or even family I would be greatly in your debt! If you need better photos, that could be arranged; the animals I collected from La Gruta (and those original two from my first encounter with this species) have accompanied me back to Washington State, where they’re living in a colony in a large hexagonal tank full of rotten Panamanian wood and moss.
Colin Eliphalet Bartlett
the mouth of La Gruta Cave, Isla Colon, Bocas del Toro Archipelago, Bocas del Toro Province, Republic of Panama

Millipedes from Panama

Millipedes from Panama

Dear Colin,
Thanks so much for your detailed account of your observations of these social Millipedes from Panama.  Sadly, we are uncertain of the exact identification, but we will post your letter and photo in the hopes that some Millipede expert will contact us.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Flying Burrowing Insect?
Wed, Mar 25, 2009 at 5:25 PM
Hi
Have recently found this insect making nests in the ground in our backyard. I have never seen this insect before and was wondering if you site could help me identify them. They look to be a cross between a small fly and a wasp but they are only about 5mm long. You can see in one of the photos the holes in the ground where they are burrowing. There are at least 10-15 different holes scattered around where they are coming in and out. They are not any trouble but just wondering what they might be so any help would be fantastic.
Regards Brett Holland
Perth, Western Australia

Homalictus Bee

Homalictus Bee

Dear Brett,
We believe you have a colony of Homalictus Bees.  According to the Which Native Bees Live in Your Area website:  “Although very small (most less than 8 mm long), the glittering Homalictus bees come in a dazzling array of colours. ‘Golden blue’, ‘coppery red’ and ‘green tinged with purple, red or gold’ are just a few of the colours listed by scientists. Homalictus bees dig intricate branching nests in the ground. Many females may live together in each nest, taking turns to guard the narrow nest entrance. One nest was found to be occupied by over 160 females! ” and “With glints of aqua blue, golden green and orange, these Homalictus bees make a stunning sight! Just 5 mm long , these bees are tiny living gems.”

Homalictus Bee

Homalictus Bee


What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination