From the monthly archives: "August 2009"

Butteryfly/Moth looking insect
August 2, 2009
I was camping over the weekend and came across this big moth/butteryfly type insect. It just stayed in that spot for hours then it left for sometime and then the next day it was back on a different spot on the cabin.
thanks
Labarr15
Old Forge, NY

Luna Moth

Luna Moth

Dear Labarr15,
Now that you know that this is a Luna Moth, you should be able to find enough information online to fill a book, one of those things that we really need to continue writing.

The Doombug
August 3, 2009
I work at a summer camp in eastern Nebraska near the Platte river. One morning one of the counselors discovered this on their front porch. None of us have any idea what it is, but we labeled it “The Doombug”. It was a little over two inches long (and completely terrifying to behold, if you ask me). Any ideas on what this thing is?
Christina
Eastern Nebraska

Male Dobsonfly

Male Dobsonfly

Hi Christina,
Doombug is far took bleak of a name for this spectacular male Dobsonfly, a harmless species despite its fierce appearance.

Gall or nest?
August 3, 2009
Hi guys!
I absolutely love your site, and tell all my friends about it! I found a very alien object clinging to a creosote bush behind my house, in Tucson AZ. It is a leafy sphere, about the size of a quarter. The leaves (which don’t look anything like those the creosote leaves) are arranged in whirls, like a grassy daisy, and there is a tiny hole in the center of each. Coming out of each hole are discarded exoskeletons, like those of the grain moth larvae you find in boxes of rice and pancake mix. They are probably only 4 or 5mm long. There is also a bit of silk strewn around the whole thing, which gives it a dewy, sticky look, but I haven’t touched it because I don’t want to be impregnated by some alien insectoid race. What kind of bug could construct such a crazy looking (and beautiful) nest? Or is it a gall of some sort? I am so very curious…
Thanks for your help!
Emily Rush
Tucson, Arizona, USA

Creosote Gall

Creosote Gall

Creosote gall
August 3, 2009
Hi!
Me again. After writing to you, I decided to google “creosote gall”. Don’t know why I didn’t do that first, I guess I was just excited to send you a pic of something you might not have seen before. Apparently my mystery alien sphere IS a gall, caused by, wonder of wonders, a creosote gall midge! I couldn’t find a picture of one though. Any help in this area?
Thanks again!
Emily Rush
Tucson, Arizona, USA

Hi Emily,
Thanks for sending us your photo of a Creosote Gall and doing the subsequent research.  BugGuide has images of the Creosote Gall filed under the species Asphondylia auripila with the information:  “Larvae form galls in creosote bush (Larrea tridentata),”
but if you go to the genus Asphondylia and browse, you will see some images of related Midges that probably look very similar to the Creosote Gall Midge. The only species on BugGuide with images of adults is Asphondylia solidanginis. Species in the same genus often have visual similarities and an expert is required to differentiate one from another.  Unlike the Oak Gall we just posted which was formed by a small wasp, the Creosote Gall is formed by a Midge that is in the order Diptera and is classified with the flies.  The Creosote Gall is a deformation of the plant with the leaves and stems stunted to form the Gall.  If you follow the taxonomy on BugGuide back to the Family Cecidomyiidae, you start to get a bit more information, including:  “Minute, delicate flies with long legs and usually relatively long antennae, and with reduced wing venation” and “more than 1,200 species in 170 genera in North America.” There are images of many different species on the Cicidomyiidae page of the Forestry Images website.  Some of the members of the family include the Skeletonweed Gall Midge and the St. John’s Wart Midge.  Those should give you some idea of what the Creosote Gall Midge looks like.  Again, thanks for sending us your photo.

Thanks Daniel!
I hope I can catch a midge in action. By the way, the root borer you posted is a Palo Verde beetle (Derobrachus geminatus). We have lot’s of them in Tucson- they’re HUGE, and they’re really active right now, during the monsoon. I like their fancy spiked collars! Here’s another!
Emily

Insect egg ball
July 31, 2009
Hi,
I keep finding these egg balls under an oak tree in my yard. Can you tell me what comes out of these? (The second picture shows their exits.) The wall material is paper thin and very brittle. They are about the size of a golf ball, beige, and bumpy.
Thank you.
Todd Shinn
Salisbury, NC

Oak Gall

Oak Gall

Hi Todd,
This is the Gall or Oak Apple formed by some species of Gall Wasp, a tiny wasp in the family Cynipidae.  The larval Gall Wasp creates the Gall as part of its growth process and the Galls do not harm the trees.
There are numerous species and according to BugGuide: Many different cynipid wasps form large, spherical galls on oak leaves, some of which are called “oak apples.” As with most galls, ID requires knowing the species of oak. It is also critical to look at the internal structure:  Even then, there are some very similar ones, and it may be necessary to examine the adult wasp that emerges.”  A British Website has a photo that matches your Gall, and it is identified as Biorhiza pallida, but we believe your new world species is not the same. According to BugGuide there are  “Over 750 species in North America in 49 genera” and “Small to minute, usually black, with characteristic shape: the abdomen is oval and somewhat compressed and shiny, the second tergum covers a good part of the abdomen. Each species makes a characteristic gall on a specific part of the plant. Many make galls on oaks. Most have a complex life cycle with a parthenogenetic generation and a sexual one. Each generation makes galls of a different appearance and on different parts of the plant. The recognized expert in this family is Charles Kinsey who died about 50 years ago after achieving worldwide fame for his studies of male and female sexuality.

Spiral antennae, brown body, yellow fangs, half inch tall
July 31, 2009
I was outside playing with my kids and happened to glance over at my husband’s truck and saw this bug. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life and I’m very curious to know what it is. I’m not going to lie, I was very afraid to get too close so I am hoping that my picture is clear enough to see details. The bug is probably a half an inch tall, brown with some yellow, and appears to have a hard shell.
Stephanie
Syracuse, New York

Summer Fishfly:  Disembodied Head

Summer Fishfly: Disembodied Head

Hi Stephanie,
This is the disembodied head of a Summer Fishfly, Chauliodes pectinicornis, which may be matched to an image on BugGuide.  The form of the pectinate antennae indicate that this was a male Summer Fishfly.  How it was disembodied is a curious question, and we suspect a predator like a bird or bat made a snack of the nutritious body.  Summer Fishflies have long bodies and an impressive wingspan.  What you saw only represents about 15% to 20% of the entire insect length.

Pictures of my friend Gardenia
July 31, 2009
Hi!
I hope you like the pictures I took in August ’08 of a Female Garden Spider that had made it’s home in my euonymous plant . Once I had identified her, I named her Gardenia, and she became a regular stop on my daily garden tour. I think she is eating a fly in these photos.
Brenda A
Waterdown, Ontario, Canada

Golden Orb-Weaver
Golden Orb-Weaver

Hi Brenda,
Thanks for sending us your photos of Argiope aurantia, a female Yellow Garden Spider or Golden Orb-Weaver as we call them in Los Angeles.
We think Gardenia is a very fitting name.  One of our gardeners, Raul, has been nicknamed Gardenia by the rest of the crew.  Thanks for indicating that your photos were taken last year as we thought it was a bit early to get photos of such a mature spider.