From the monthly archives: "May 2009"

Who was spying on my photo session
Mon, May 25, 2009 at 1:51 PM
I found this spider crawling on the ground next to me while taking photos of a big ol’ wolf spider. I went ahead and gathered him up to get him in on the photo shoot. He didn’t seem quite as content sitting on top of the rock as the larger wolf spider, camera shy I guess. Obviously I cant seem to figure out what it is, the guides on the net seem to be pretty lacking. The closest I can gather is this is another species of wolf spider, some characteristics look similar but not distinct enough for me to tell.
Scott
Northern Michigan, USA

Nursery Web Spider

Nursery Web Spider

Hi Scott,
Though the markings are atypical, we suspected that this was a Nursery Web Spider.  Upon looking through the images posted to BugGuide, we located an individual with nearly identical markings identified as Pisaurina mira.  The Nursery Web Spider, which is related to the Dolomedes Fishing Spiders, is a beautiful and fascinating species.

beetle like bug with pincers and orange fan like antenna
Mon, May 25, 2009 at 12:36 PM
I found this insect in my back garden in England UK. I have never seen anything like this before. Its body length was about 1.5 inches long and It had very large wings. Its face looked see through with large black bulging eye and pincers.It looked like it had a face.it had a fury neck and a hard shell body. could you please let me know what insect this is. I would be very grateful.
Tanni Celep UK
Birmingham,England,Uk

Cockchafer

Cockchafer

Hi Tanni,
Your beetle is a type of Scarab known as a Cockchafer, Melolontha melolontha, also known as a May Bug.  According to David A Kendall on the Insect & Other Arthropods website:  “Adult chafers eat the leaves and flowers of many deciduous trees, shrubs and other plants, but rarely cause any serious damage in the UK. ”  According to the UK Safari website:  “Cockchafers tend to swarm around trees and bushes, as they feed on the leaves.  The wing cases of the adult beetles are covered in tiny grey hairs, giving them a dusty appearance.  They’re quite clumsy in flight.  Often colliding into things as they wobble about in the air. Their wings also make a loud buzzing sound.
The cockchafer has a three year life cycle. After mating the female digs down about 20cm into the soil to lay between 10 and 20 eggs.  The eggs hatch after 21 days and the larvae remain in the soil for a further two years feeding on plant roots. … Cockchafers are sometimes called ‘May Bugs’ because of the month they appear.  In Suffolk they’re also known as ‘Billy Witches’. “

Luna Moth
Mon, May 25, 2009 at 9:39 AM
Hello, This morning 5.25.09 I was making my bed and opened my blinds that shows out to our front deck when I did I saw a bug that looked like a leaf.. so i took a picture and did some research and turns out it was the Canadian Luna Moth… I live in Maryland, does anyone know if it is common to see them here?? And this white moth was close by to it, is it a baby?? or a different moth.
Ashley A
Maryland

Luna Moth

Luna Moth

Dear Ashley,
Luna Moths range over much of eastern North America, from Florida to Canada, and as far west as Texas and Oklahoma.  They are quite common in some parts of their range, and quite scarce in others.  Maryland is part of the range, but as to whether they are common in your area is a matter that must be verified by local statistics.  Luna Moths reach their adult size after emerging from the cocoon and expanding their wings.  They do not grow as adults.  The growth is accomplished during the caterpillar stage.  The white moth is not a baby Luna Moth.

Looks like a dragonfly, with wasp-like markings
Sun, May 24, 2009 at 6:31 PM
I saw this insect on the side of my house, it was roughly 2 inches long with a similar wingspread. I’m assuming it’s some kind of dragonfly, based on the mouth, wings, and body. I’ve never seen one with markings like this though, it reminds me of a wasp, with striking yellow-on-black. I also don’t recall seeing a dragonfly with antennae ever before. Any idea what this guy is?
Kyle, Hatfield MA
Hatfield, MA

Male Giant Ichenumon

Male Giant Ichenumon

Dear Kyle,
This is a male Giant Ichneumon in the genus Megarhyssa.  Giant Ichneumons are parasitoids that are closely related to wasps, but they do not sting.  Your photo is of particular significance because of its high quality and also because we very infrequently receive images of male Giant Ichneumons.  In July 2007, we received a wonderful image of several males awaiting the emergence of a female.   BugGuide has a photo of a male Megarhyssa atrata, the species we believe you have photographed, and the posting contains a significant commentary posing the possibility that it might be a related species, Megarhyssa macrurus, also a possibility in your case.  Most of the images we receive of Giant Ichneumons are of females, and a large number are ovipositing.  The female has an ovipositor that can be as long as four inches, and many of our readers mistake this for a stinger.  The female uses her ovipositor to deposit eggs deep inside dead and dying wood that contains wood boring grubs, often the larvae of the Pigeon Horntail.

Update:  April 8, 2014
We are frequently asked if Giant Ichneumons can sting, and we always reply that they cannot.  We just found a fascinating article.  According to Icheumon Wasps by Lloyd Eighme on Skagit.wsu:  “It might frighten you, but if you could watch it long enough you would be amazed at what it does. It lands on the bark of a tree and crawls up and down, tapping with its long antennae, obviously searching for something. Eventually it finds the spot it is looking for and begins to drill into the bark with its long needle-like ovipositor. It has detected the larva of a horntail wasp chewing its tunnel in the wood an inch or more below the surface of the bark. The ovipositor is made up of three stiff threads, hardened by minerals, that fit together with a groove in the center. Vibrating those sharppointed threads forces them into the bark and sapwood of the tree to contact the horntail grub in its tunnel. An egg is forced down the ovipositor to parasitize the grub. If the ichneumon parasite larva killed its host, they would both die, trapped in the solid wood which the parasite is unable to chew. It only feeds on the nonvital organs like the fat body until its host has nearly completed its life cycle and has chewed its way out near the surface of the bark. Then it kills and consumes its host grub and completes its own life cycle to emerge as another giant ichneumon wasp in the genus Megarhyssa (mega=large; rhyssa=tail) to start over again. You can see both Megarhyssa and its horntail wasp host in the MG collection.
People often ask if the ichneumon wasps will sting them with their needle-like ovipositors. The wasps are interested only in laying eggs in caterpillars or other insects, but if you handle a live one it may try to sting you in self-defense. Small ones could not likely penetrate your skin, but larger ones might be able to

2″ Long Colorful Beetle
Sun, May 24, 2009 at 11:15 PM
Found it in my sunny driveway, I live in southern Vermont and have never seen anything like this before. Definitely the most attractive looking bug I’ve ever seen
Spragels Bigels
Southern Vermont

Dicerca divercata???

Dicerca divaricata???

Dear Spragels Bigels,
This is one of the Metallic Wood Boring Beetles in the family Buprestidae, sometimes called Jewel Beetles.  We believe it is in the genus Dicerca, probably Dicerca divaricata.  If your specimen is really 2 inches long, it is a trophey.  Most specimens posted to BugGuide are less than an inch long, and the largest example there is 1 1/2 inches long.  We would not rule out that this may be a Poplar Borer, Dicerca tenebrica, which is also pictured on BugGuide.  Again, your 2 inch long specimen would be unusually large.

white & black beetle/grasshopper?
Sun, May 24, 2009 at 10:32 AM
we live in south louisiana….we have some very unusual bugs but this is 1 tops em……it was on my car…..it is black & white….it has a thorn on each side of its neck ….very long feelers…..the underneath of its legs look like hearts….please lemme know what yall think it could be…..it is pretty vicous,,,,
Layla Pinell
Montegut , Louisiana

Cottonwood Borer

Cottonwood Borer

Hi Layla,
This is a Cottonwood Borer, Plectrodera scalator, and there is little likelihood that it would be confused with any other insect since it is so distinctive.  BugGuide lists its range as “Eastern and Central United States. In east, found north of Washington, DC. (Apparently absent from Carolinas, Florida) ” typically near riverbanks and other places where its host trees willows and cottonwood grow.  Almost all of our reports have been from Oklahoma and Texas.