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

Newly Emerged Poplar Sphinx?
Fri, May 29, 2009 at 8:09 PM
Hi–This morning there was quite a ruckus in our back yard, as the cat had apparently found a very newly-emerged Sphinx Moth. At first I thought it was a mouse or hummingbird (when I found it it was crawling on the cement, with the cat trying to pounce on it, much to my horror). I threw the cat inside and got some garden gloves and gently scooped him (her?) up and set him in the hanging fucshia for safety. I took pix throughout the day. It was still there around 6pm. I’m attaching 3 pix from this morning, afternoon, and evening. I think the markings on the right wing might be from the cat….
Kel Casey
Coronado, CA

Poplar Sphinx

Western Poplar Sphinx

Dear Kel,
There are two moths that may be confused that go by the common name Poplar Sphinx. Your moth is the Big Poplar Sphinx, Pachysphinx occidentalis, that is found in western North America. A similar and closely related species is the Modest Sphinx, Pachysphinx modesta, is sometimes called the Poplar Sphinx, but this is an eastern North American species. Here is what Bill Oehlke’s website has to say: “Pachysphinx modesta , the Poplar Sphinx or Modest Sphinx ranges through southern portions of all Canadian provinces and is found in the eastern half of the U.S. from Maine to northern Florida. James P. Tuttle has range maps showing it as far west as eastern Washington southward to extreme northeastern New Mexico. Most of the western specimens appear to be P. occidentalis , and I would not be surprised if there is some natural hybridization in the western states. “

Big Poplar Sphinx

Western Poplar Sphinx

BugGuide also has this information: “There is confusion regarding the common name. Holland’s 1904 publication, Covell’s Guide, and the recent Audubon Guide calls P. modesta the Big Poplar Sphinx but that name is used only for P. occidentalis by the Butterflies and Moths of North America site and several other sources. Since both species are called Big Poplar Sphinx by various sources, it would be less confusing if that name were not used at all, and replaced with either Modest Sphinx (for P. modesta ) or Western Poplar Sphinx (for P. occidentalis ).
The Modest Sphinx ( Pachysphinx modesta ) occurs coast to coast in North America, whereas the Western Poplar Sphinx ( P. occidentalis ) is restricted to western North America. “

Thanks so much. He was pretty big. I remember last year seeing a much smaller version of almost the same thing, so wasn’t sure. We do have a couple of poplar trees on and near our property.
I like the Latin name of Pachysphinx– translated to elephant sphinx?
Thanks again.
Kel

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Mallow/Hibiscus Sawfly Larva
Fri, May 29, 2009 at 6:47 AM
I found these larvae devouring our rose mallows and a few on our Malvaviscus. It’s the first year I’ve seen them. I didn’t see this type of sawfly larva on your site, so I’m sending photos of them and a photo of the damage they do to the leaf. Thanks again for all the hard work that goes into keeping up such a great site.
Tim
Memphis, TN

Hibiscus Sawfly Larva

Hibiscus Sawfly Larva

Hi Tim,
Thanks for sending us your photos of a Hibiscus Sawfly Larva, Atomacera decepta.  We are linking to the BugGuide information page on the species.

Hibiscus Sawfly Larva

Hibiscus Sawfly Larva

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Intruder Alert!
Thu, May 28, 2009 at 10:51 PM
I found this guy skulking alone on my living room ceiling this evening. It was a very warm day out today, one of the warmest so far this year in Portland, Oregon.
I don’t recognize him, nor to any of my friends.
For the moment, I have him in a holding cell. If he turns out to be a harmless bug, I’ll just release him in the back yard and let him go on his way. If he’s one of those destructive pests, with other friends hiding out in the woodwork (so to speak), he will face summary execution.
So, can you identify this invader?
Paranoid Portland Home Owner
Portland, Oregon

Soldier Beetle

Soldier Beetle

Dear PPHO,
This is a species of Soldier Beetle.  According to BugGuide, Soldier Beetle:  “Adults eat nectar, pollen and in some cases other insects, particularly aphids. Larvae are generally carnivorous and feed on small soft-bodied insects.  A few species feed on plant material such as grains potatoes and celery.   “We believe it is in the genus Cantharis which may be viewed on BugGuide.  The species Cantharis fidelis, which is reported from Oregon, looks quite similar to your beetle.  Soldier Beetles are often attracted to lights, which could explain the presence in your living room.  You may release your captive as it will not harm you nor your home.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Another Pair of Golden Backed Snipe Flies Mating
Golden Backed Snipe Flies Mating
Tue, Jun 9, 2009 at 5:16 PM
Leaving the house today, these two bugs were on my porch cushion. They were there for almost 1/2hour. They even gave me time to go get my camera , focus a few shots and get this great one! I emailed the pics to a friend as the “gold button” on the flies is truly a gold color- unlike the yellow color that comes off in the picture. The gold is what really attracted me to examine them closely. So, this evening, further intrigued, I hit the internet only to find your site within seconds, identifying the flies with ease, yelling to my husband, “THEY ARE GOLDEN BACKED SNIPE FLIES!!!” Gotta love the web!
A. Shafer
ExtremeNW NJ

Golden Backed Snipe Flies Mating

Golden Backed Snipe Flies Mating

Dear A.,
Thanks for sending in your photo of Golden Backed Snipe Flies mating. We will be adding your letter to the Bug of the Month posting since your photo is so much sharper than the original one we posted.

Golden Backed Snipe Flies Mating
Fri, May 29, 2009 at 5:33 AM
Good morning.
As I was walking from my car about 8am this morning, I chanced upon two bugs mating in the parking lot. They would hop a few feet away each time I got close but firmly refused to go get a room.
Thanks to your site, I was able to learn that the romantic couple is a pair of Golden Backed Snipe Flies. The gold on their backs is quite attractive!
Sorry for the quality of the photo. All I had was my cell phone.
Thank you for this site. It is great when we have a Cool Bug Alert and need to identify what the cool bug is. (In our family, we yell “Cool Bug Alert” and all come running to look. We then look up the bug and learn about them.)
Steph S.
Fairfax, VA

Golden Backed Snipe Flies Mating

Golden Backed Snipe Flies Mating

Dear Steph,
Thanks so much for your kind letter. We would love to hear that more people are using the Cool Bug Alert, since most alerts tend to have such a negative connotation in our modern world that is so full of the threat of terrorist attacks, abductions and contagious diseases. We are also quite happy to post your image of mating Golden Backed Snipe Flies. Since June is upon us, and it will be time to select a new Bug of the Month, we would like to select the Golden Backed Snipe Fly, Chrysopilus thoracicus, for the honor. According to BugGuide, the season for sightings is spring, more specifically “Spring. April-May (North Carolina)” though all of the submissions to our site have been from late May through June in more Northern locations. The May/June sighting calendar is also supported on BugGuide’s Data Page. We witnessed our own first sighting several years ago in Mill Creek Park in Youngstown Ohio in early June. BugGuide also indicates: “Life Cycle Details unknown. This fly is observed in early to mid-spring perched quietly on low vegetation in deciduous woodlands. “

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

What kind of moth or butterfly is this?
Fri, May 29, 2009 at 5:29 AM
My mom found this insect on our back porch this rainy afternoon, and we have never seen anything like it! Can you tell us what it might be? It has brown and red and white wings and a white and red body, and also VERY BIG! Thanks!
Tori
North Augusta, Ontario

Cecropia Moth

Cecropia Moth

Hi Tori,
Congratulations on your sighting of a Cecropia Moth, one of the largest North American moths.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Salticid kills Asilidae Foodchain
Sat, May 23, 2009 at 10:09 PM
Hi guys,
Got this picture today of a Jumping Spider catching a tiny Robberfly. The spider is one I have been trying to identify with the help of the University of Southern Queensland but there are over 500 species most of which have never been photographed so it is proving quite difficult. Hope you like the shot
aussietrev
Queensland, Australia

Jumping Spider eats Robber Fly

Jumping Spider eats Robber Fly

Hi Trevor,
We cannot believe how far we had to go back in our email inbox to retrieve your letter which we were too busy to post when we first noticed it.  Summer is approaching in the northern hemisphere and our mail is increasing to the point that we must virtually ignore much of it.  Thanks for sending us your awesome image of a Jumping Spider feeding upon a Robber Fly.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination