From the monthly archives: "August 2009"

Big waspy stingy looking bug
August 28, 2009
Hi ‘bugman’,
While taking my kids to a nearby beach on Lake Erie, we came across many ground burrows of these “Big waspy stingy looking bugs”, as my 8 year twins called them. I think they may be some type of Scoliid wasps, judging from the pictures on your site. We were wondering if there was any need to fear them, they seemed docile enough. They were about 2-21/2 inches long.Thanks for looking at our letter.
Joe S.
western Erie county, PA

Cicada Killer

Cicada Killer

Hi Joe,
Thanks so much for indicating in your letter that these Cicada Killers Wasps seemed docile.  Female Cicada Killers are much more intent on supplying their underground burrows with paralyzed Cicadas than with stinging humans.  Though a female Cicada Killer might sting a human, we have never received a substantiated report of them doing so.  Male Cicada Killers that cannot sting are often aggressive about defending territory, but they are perfectly harmless.  Your photos are wonderful.

Cicada Killer

Cicada Killer

What kind of moth is this?
August 28, 2009
I found this cute moth in a shady spot outside. it has red on its wings.
what kind of moth is it?
Ducky and Red Bear
NM

Underwing Moth

Underwing Moth

Dear Ducky and Red Bear,
This is an Underwing Moth in the genus Catocala, but we have difficult distinguishing individual species.  Perhaps a reader can supply a species identification.  We believe it might be The Sweetheart, Calocala amatrix, based on images posted to BugGuide.

Zephyr Eyed Silkmoth pic
August 29, 2009
Thanks for the caterpillar ID! I have a nice pic of a silkmoth in full, angry display. Can you pass it along to BugGuide? He says on the site that he doesn’t have a pic of one displaying.
Mike
Edgewood, New Mexico, 7000′ pinion forest

Zephyr Eyed Silkmoth

Zephyr Eyed Silkmoth

Hi Mike,
Thanks for sending us a photo of the adult Zephyr Eyed Silkmoth, Automeris zephyria, to accompany the caterpillar images your sent us the other day.  Here at What’s That Bug? our editorial staff posts all of the letters and images to our site individually, while BugGuide has postings initiated by the readership.  Right now, the time it would take us to submit a posting to BugGuide on your behalf would prevent us from posting letters to our own site, depriving our readership of several new letters and depriving our own querants from seeing their letters online.  If time permits in the future, we will try to post your letter to BugGuide, but for now, it will be on the internet at our own site.

caterpillar ID
August 28, 2009
Hello again! I found this amazing caterpillar climbing on a wall more than 100′ from any vegetation. It is ~3″ long, and as you can see will curl into a ball if disturbed. As I discovered, those spines are not for show! I bumped it and got a strong burning/stinging sensation at the site.
Mike
Edgewood New Mexico, 7000′ pinion forest

Zephyr Eyed Silkmoth Caterpillar

Zephyr Eyed Silkmoth Caterpillar

Dear Mike,
As we have stated so many times in the past, we haven’t the time to even read all of the emails we receive, and we tend to open emails with subject lines that catch our attention.  We had been thinking that we haven’t posted any images of the fabulous Eyed Silkmoth caterpillars from the genus Automeris that have limited ranges in the Southwest.  This is the caterpillar of a Zephyr Eyed Silkmoth, Automeris zephyria, and it is only reported from the mountains of New Mexico.  The caterpillars feed on the leaves of willows.  You can see more images on BugGuide, but nothing as spectacular as the defensive ball your specimen has rolled into.  The spines of the Zephyr Eyed Silkmoth Caterpillar are mildly poisonous.  You need not fear for your health because of the sting, but the discomfort may last a few days.  We are copying Bill Oehlke on this response so he can add you sighting to the comprehensive data he is compiling.  We suspect he might also want to post your wonderful photos on his own website.

Zephyr Eyed Silkmoth Caterpillar:  Defensive Posture

Zephyr Eyed Silkmoth Caterpillar: Defensive Posture

Colorful Moth
August 28, 2009
What kind of moth is this? I took the picture in August 2008 in northern Utah, Heber City area up on the mountain.
Toby Cramer
Northern Utah, Heber City area

Great Tiger Moth

Great Tiger Moth

Hi Toby,
We don’t get many photos of the Great Tiger Moth, Arctia caja, which is known as the Garden Tiger Moth in Europe.  This is a species that might need conservation since according to BugGuide it is:  “uncommon to rare in North America; European numbers have been declining in recent years
”  BugGuide also indicates:  “This species, formerly common throughout the UK, has steadily declined over the past 20 years, with numbers falling by around 30%. There has been a general movement away from the south and toward the north, with climate change believed to be a contributing factor. Warm, wet winters and warm springs are followed by a decrease in the number of tiger moths the following summer (Conrad et al, 2002).  Arctia caja was a favourite with early European collectors, who selectively bred it to create unusual colours and forms.”

August 28, 2009
This morning I noticed that Angelfish Boris and Media Luna laid eggs again.  Their last two spawnings had a very high mortality rate.  The spawning from approximately two weeks ago only has two fry.  The spawning from about four weeks ago has about 13.  Once the fry become free swimming, they start to die.  The most recent hatching was one of the largest hatchings, but within a week, there was a great die-off.  It is possible that the time I introduced two generations to the nursery tank together, there was a similar die-off, and I accused the elder siblings of killing their younger brethren.  I currently have 13 fry in the nursery aquarium and two in a bowl inside the nursery aquarium.  I will transfer the 13 to the grow out aquarium after taking the largest fry in there to Tropical Imports to trade for frozen brine shrimp.

Update
September 19, 2009
Much has happened since the August posting.  I never removed the fry from the community aquarium and all were eaten.  The two fry in the bowl were raised in the nursery aquarium alone after their 13 older siblings were moved to the larger aquarium.  The two fry that were alone grew quickly.  Last week they too were moved to the community aquarium after I took the the 10 largest youngsters to Tropical Imports to exchange for food about two weeks ago.  Lefty and Digitalis are still with their most recent spawning, but I think Digitalis is filling with eggs, so I should catch the fry and remove them to the grow out aquarium.  First, I have to catch the largest fry and take them to Tropical Imports.  The largest individual I had, I gave to Daryl next door to add to his aquarium.  Yesterday, Boris and Media Luna laid eggs on a leaf of a new plant I bought two weeks ago.  I have also begun to use a product to remove algae, and it is working.  The product is called Algaefix.