From the monthly archives: "July 2009"

Wood hornet?
July 31, 2009
This bug was flying around the lights in front of my house in Richmond, Virginia on the night of July 29, 2009. I think it could be a wood hornet and I think the whip-like tail could be an ovipositor (thanks to the information your website provided!) but I am not sure. If this is an ovipositor, why is it so long? It seemed as though the bug had very little control of it as it flew around the lights and banged into the side of the house!
Richmond, VA

Female Giant Ichneumon

Female Giant Ichneumon

Hi Steph,
Coincidentally, a few minutes ago we posted an image of a male Megarhyssa atrata, and in that response, we described the female.  Your photo is a female Giant Ichneumon, Megarhyssa atrata.  She does have an ovipositor.  Giant Ichneumons prey upon the larvae of Pigeon Horntails and other wood boring insects that infest dead and dying trees.  The female uses her long ovipositor to deposit eggs deep inside infested wood, “drilling” until she locates the tunnel of a wood boring grub.  That is where she lays the egg.
We have several nice images of Giant Ichnuemons ovipositing on our website, including this one from June 2008.  We have heard that Giant Ichneumons may be attracted to artificial lights at night.

Crane Fly? Damsel Fly? Really Off-Course Fly?
July 31, 2009
Hey there – Here’s a very interesting looking flying insect found yesterday, July 30th, at Massassauga Point Conservation Area, Prince Edward County, Ontario. Very sunny day, humid, temperatures around 28 Celsius. My wife works for the conservation authority and was in the field when she spotted it. I’ve done as much Internet searching as I can but cannot identify the insect. It was in a brushy, wooded area when the photo was taken, and when in flight its legs dangled much like a mud dobber, and it has orange antennae like a wood wasp, but it’s the tail end that has us stumped. It hovered much like a wasp when in flight.
Any help would be appreciated – thanks!
Glenn May-Anderson, Belleville, Ontario
Massassauga Point, Prince Edward County, Ontario

Male Megarhyssa atrata


Hi Glenn,
We receive many identification requests for female Giant Ichneumons in the genus Megarhyssa, but we receive very few images of the males.  This is a male Megarhyssa atrata.  The female has a three inch long ovipositor that is often mistaken for a stinger.  She uses her ovipositor to deposit eggs into dead and dying wood that is infested with wood boring larvae, the food for the larval Ichneumon.

Correction from Eric Eaton
August 4, 2009
Hi, Daniel:
… A couple other things:
The “Giant ichneumon:  male of the species” is incorrect.  The ichneumon in the image is not even in the same subfamily, and it is likely a female.
… Keep up the great job, Daniel:-)

Update:  Therion morio identified
August 19, 2013
We just received a new photo which we thought might be a male
Megarhyssa atrata, but our search for a matching photo led us to this old unidentified Ichneumon.  Searching BugGuide, we discovered it is Therion morio.

Strange Moth found in Michigan
July 31, 2009
I found this moth while on vacation in the upper peninsula of Michigan and had to photograph it. This was during the summer. Since the photos were taken a few years ago, I don’t remember the exact size, but I estimate it to be around 1.5 inches long. I’ve been trying to find it online and so far I think it’s either some kind of sphinx moth, or a silk moth, but I’m having trouble identifying it. Any ideas?
Crystal Falls, Michigan (Upper Peninsula)

One Eyed Sphinx

Twin Spotted Sphinx

Hi Kevin,
We just posted an image of a One Eyed Sphinx a few minutes ago, and this is a closely related species, the Twin Spotted Sphinx, Smerinthus jamaicensis.  Here is how Bill Oehlke distinguishes the two species from one another:  “Smerinthus jamaicensis closely resembles Smerinthus cerisyi, but jamaicensis is much smaller with larger blue patches on more vibrant and deeper purple in the lower wings. Also note the complete (i.e. outer margin to outer margin) off-white arc just below the forewing apex. In S. cerisyi the lower portion of the arc does not return to the outer margin.

Unknown Moth Found at My Work
July 31, 2009
Found in Forest Grove, Oregon today. Tried looking online, and failed. Is it local? Or could it have come from another country? We do get pallets of goods at my work from around the world it could have came with.
It has an open wingspan of 3 inches when fully opened.
Alex P
Forest Grove, Oregon

One Eyed Sphinx

One Eyed Sphinx

Dear Alex,
The One Eyed Sphinx, Smerinthus cerisyi, is a local species for you.  You may read more by visiting Bill Oehlke’s wonderful website.

“patchwork” colorful grasshopper
July 31, 2009
Please please forgive the poor photos–I only had my cellphone camera and couldn’t see the screen, etc. Mid-afternoon, in bunch grasses, July 30. Any idea what it might be? Thanks!
Michael (needs a better cellphone cam)
Santa Fe, NM

Painted Grasshopper:  Impressionist Rendition
Painted Grasshopper: Impressionist Rendition

Dear Michael,
Remember, you bought a cellphone and not a camera.  You should just buy a camera and forget about constant connectivity.  We believe this is a Painted Grasshopper, Dactylotum bicolor, based on your Impressionistic photograph.  For photographic comparison, we are going to link back to our own site and a previous posting because we are currently unable to link to that awesome website for identifying North American insects and spiders, BugGuide.

Thank you — that’s definitely the fellow I saw. I actually didn’t pick it up because I remembered that rule about bright colors and poison — although it’s probably aimed at predators that eat the fella, now that I think about it. Anyway, thanks.
As soon as I can I’m going to buy a WiMax/cellphone/SLR/HD videocam, as long as it’s no bigger than our hawkmoths (which are pretty big) and costs less than my car (which is 14 years old).

What is this? Is it a butterfly?
July 31, 2009
I have been wondering if this is just some kind of butterfly. I found this in my backyard. I thought it was just a leaf, but the only tree I have in my yard is a pine tree. It is summer time as well, so there are not many dead leaves around right now, which is what this looks like.
Do you have any ideas what this could be?
New Mexico

Achemon Sphinx

Achemon Sphinx

Hi Kristina,
This is a moth, not a butterfly.  It is an Achemon Sphinx, Eumorpha achemon, and you may read more about it on Bill Oehlke’s wonderful website.