Blue Bug with Orange Head
Wed, Jun 24, 2009 at 5:00 PM
Found this flying through my garage tonight at sunset in southern Ontario, Canada. Wrongly identified it quickly on the net as a Pine False Webworm, but the wings clearly indicate that it is something else. 2nd one I’ve seen in the area in 2 days and am wondering if there is an invasive species to be concerned about.
We are a bit puzzled by your specimen, so we are contacting Julian Donahue, a specialist in the Arctiid Moths. This looks like a member of the genus Ctenucha (pronounced “ten U ka”) but BugGuide only list the Virginia Ctenucha, Ctenucha virginica from your area. It more closely resembles the Veined Ctenucha, Ctenucha venosa, but the Butterflies and Moths of North America lists its range as being nearly 1000 miles south and west of Ontario. Hopefully, Julian will give us a prompt reply. The fly in your one photo is a Spiny Tachinid Fly, Paradejeania rutilioides. According to BugGuide, adults take nectar and larvae are internal parasites of Tiger Moth Caterpillars.
Expert Comment from Julian Donahue
It’s Ctenucha venosa, alright, a species of the Southwest and Mexico.
Are you sure it’s from Ontario, Canada, and not Ontario, California (I don’t know of any California records, but it is more likely to have been accidentally imported here than to Canada).
If it is really from Canada, pass the photo and details on to Dr. Don Lafontaine, the noctuoid specialist at the Canadian National Collection in Ottawa–he would be greatly interested in Canadian records of this species.
Could it be that this unusual sighting is yet another sign of global warming?????
More Expert Commentary
Hi Daniel & Jason –
As Julian points out, this is definitely a noteworthy record if it is from Ontario; the nearest documented records of venosa are from northeastern Kansas. Since this conspicuous species is not known to occur between Kansas and Ontario, where the fauna is quite well-known, it is highly unlikely that this is a natural range expansion as might be the case with ‘global warming’; it more likely represents an accidental introduction by way of plant material (the larvae feed on grasses and sedges). I occasionally identify C. virginica cocoons attached to shipped nusrsery plants – this may be a similar case.
Jason, since this would be the first documented record of this species for Canada and well outside its known range, could you please provide me with the exact locality and date? Even better would be one or more specimens sent here, also with collecting data – I can give you more info if you are able to do this.
PS – the tachinid fly in the photo is Hystricia abrupta, a widespread species in northeastern North America; Paradejeania rutilioides is a much larger, differently patterned species that occurs in the southwestern US
B. Christian Schmidt, Ph.D.
Entomologist, Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids & Nematodes/.