From the yearly archives: "2009"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Winter Critters
December 30, 2009
I took a walk in the woods this month in western New York and found many little critters on top of the snow. I would appreciate any help you might be able to give in identifying. The trails are on a 600-acre wetland preserve and most of the pictures were taken in mixed woods of pine, hemlock, cherry, maple, oak, etc. that surround a very slow-moving marshy pond.
All of the pictures can be found on my blog (which links to bigger versions on Flickr): http://winterwoman.net/2009/12/23/snow-critters/
There were some spiders, too… Can you help with them?
Thanks in advance for your help!
Jennifer Schlick
Wetland preserve, western New York State on Dec 22, 2009

Gall Wasp

Gall Wasp

Hi Jennifer,
While the creatures in your photographs are all similar in that they were discovered in the snow, taxonomically (and that is how we try to organize on our website) they are unrelated.  We are going to split them up and post them independently of one another.  We are most curious about the first image, which is obviously a Hymenopteran, but not an ant.  We did a web search of “wingless wasp in snow” and were led to a BugGuide page on Gall Wasps.  Interestingly, there was an individual found in Massachusetts also walking on the snow in January 2008.  It was identified as being in the family Cynipidae, but the species was not identified.  Gall Wasps are most difficult to identify to the species level.  The posting contained this comment from Richard Vernier:  “More accurately a so-called ‘agamous’ female. Just like palaearctic Biorrhiza pallida, this winter generation contains only females, who lay eggs inside winter buds of oak-trees, after having grown-up at the roots of the same host plant.
”  Encyclopedia.com has a link to a UTube video of a Gall Wasp walking on the snow in Japan.  We also recommend the Snow Critters web page.

Wow.  You’re my hero.  thanks a billion.  Now I’m going to have to write a blog post about the wonderful folks over at What’s that Bug!!!

Here’s my blog post:
http://winterwoman.net/2009/12/31/whats-that-bug/
Thanks again!

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Ed. Note:
Choosing the Bug of the Month each month is a unilateral decision we make based on currency and interest.  We are so thrilled with the web dialog that sprang up around this posting of the Florida Deepdigger Scarab Beetles, and since Floridians should be encountering them through January, and since there seems to be a dearth of information about them on the web, the decision this month was quite easy.

Beetle Mound Builders
December 30, 2009
Hi Bugman. I’ve got some kind of beetle building mounds all over the property. They do about 25 mounds a day. They might be dung beetles but I don’t know (I tried to match them up with pics online).
My concern is knowing if they are destructive (besides the annoying mounds). I want to do a large vegie garden and so I’m concerned both about the beetles and about insecticide.
A neighbor (I’m new here) said they live in the ground and only build their mounds during the winter but I don’t know if that is correct. I did first notice the mounds when it turned cold here.
They seem to do most of their work at night though I think they build during the day too.
The beetles are about the size of a quarter, maybe a little bigger. They are shiny black, almost bluish when I shine a light on them at night. They have long back legs.
I’ve enclosed a picture of the beetle, the mound and the series of mounds built in just one day.
Would appreciate identifying the type of beetle, knowing whether or not it is destructive and if so what is the best way to control this little lawn beast.
Thanik you.
bugged
Tampa FL

Florida Deepdigger Scarab Beetle

Florida Deepdigger Scarab Beetle

Dear bugged,
We believe this is a Florida Deepdigger Scarab Beetle, Peltotrupes profundus, a species of Earth Boring Dung Beetle, though we are going to request a second opinion from Eric Eaton.  BugGuide only has two images posted from the genus and indicates they are endemic to Florida.  We are also going to try to locate information on the mounds, and we are not sure if the Florida Deepdigger Scarab Beetle is really the party that is constructing them.

Mound

It is a most interesting question.  Is your soil sandy? because BugGuide indicates they are found in sand scrub.  Is the soil consistent with the coloration of the mounds?  The Soil Science Society of America Journal has an online article entitled Soil Mixing by Scarab Beetles and Pocket Gophers in North-Central Florida, but there are no images.

Mounds

Mounds

Aren’t you guys wonderful! I just happened upon your website while trying to investigate this bug. Your info is very appreciated.
Yes, the soil here is quite sandy. There is a layer of some top soil but then it turns to an orangey/yellowish/reddish sand, the color of the mounds. I believe it gets darker red further down as the previous owner had some pvc pipe set up as ballards so when I removed them I had soil borings to examine.
Also, my neighbor was told, when digging his drainfield, that this type of sand is excellent for drainage. This area of Tampa is actually Temple Terrace, named for the then new hybrid temple oranges grown here. My property sits on an old orange grove, so there might be a bit of manure still in the top soil (just a guess; I don’t know).
What is strange is that these mound builders prefer just a few properties near my house, but a block away I don’t see them at all. There is one empty lot here, about an acre in size, and it looks like a moonscape of mounds.
Interesting the conversation at http://bugguide.net/node/view/39946 as it mentions that December is their active season, just now when I am experiencing the little critters.
Thank you so much for your good information. Please do let me know if you find out otherwise or additional from Mr. Eaton.

Eric Eaton forwards identification request to two experts
Daniel:
Florida + scarab = Eric is clueless.  LOL!  I’m sending a copy of my reply here to two eminent authorities on scarab beetles.  Then I will learn something, too!  Sorry I can’t be of more immediate help.
Eric

Arthur Evans forwards identification request to another expert
Paul,
Would you please take a look at the pushups illustrated in the link below and let us all know what you think it is? Many thanks!
Happy holidays to everyone!
Cheers, ART

Confirmation from Paul E. Skelley
Fellow travelers,
You’ve all had it correct. It is Peltotrupes profudus making the mounds. As a new commer to Florida, I am not surprised by Mr. ‘Bugged’ concerns. We get his exact questions several times every year.
The short answer they are really no problem at all. The mounding is temporary, and actually benefitial to the type of grasses we must grow in Florida. As with many related beetles, Peltotrupes is somewhat colonial. Where you find one, you may find many, and yet, none across the road. Some of this may have to do with their habits of provisioning their burrows with dead plant matter, acorns, etc. In fact, I believe there is a study or two that link these beetles with oaks and deep sand. I have never heard of any case of these beetles actually damaging a lawn or garden plants. Their eye-sore, nuisance mounds are easily knocked over and are washed away with a couple rains. Golf course grounds people will argue about the mounds being a problem, but the beetles pose no other problems that we are aware of.
As for control, I would not waste my time or money. The mound is spoils of a narrow burrow that goes straight down. These burrows are known to be 10 ft. deep and there is no way to put enough pesticide in the soil to kill the larvae in the bottom of the burrows. For a bit of fun, if you can quickly scrape the mound away and find an open burrow, then take a straight grass stalk or other long thin object and stick it down the hole. I occasionaly do this with my kids and have seen 3 ft. grass stalks simply disappear down the hole.
Inspite of them being hard to kill with pesticides, habitat destruction and mis-management are destroying many populations of these beetles. Plus, I have not seen them in heavily managed – irrigated lawns and suspect these yards do not provide the conditions or food needed for the beetles.
This is a non-pestiferous endemic part of native Florida, Mr. Bugged should be proud to have such an interesting insect in his yard. I wish I had them where I lived, but I live in an area with more clay in the soils.
Feel free to drop me additional questions if needed, Happy New Year!
Paul E. Skelley, Collections Manager
Florida State Collection of Arthropods

What a wonderful reply from Paul. Please thank him for me. Now of course I feel terrible (& poorer) for having applied insecticide which I will stop immediately and just hose down the mounds.
Thank you Daniel for your good work in this matter.
[no longer] bugged
ps, Paul is exactly correct where he references the preferred environment as there is deep sand here and I’ve a number of oak trees.
I’m very pleased to have this information and hope I did not damage the colony terribly with the poisoning I did prematurely.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

yellow caterpillar in Tropical Australia
December 29, 2009
Dear Bugman,
I live in Tropical North Queensland, Australia and it is currently the wet season (Summer). I found this little critter eating a Camilla bush and was wondering what beautiful butterfly he is going to turn into? Kind regards,
GG
Cairns, Australia

Bee Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Bee Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Dear GG,
We are nearly certain this is the caterpillar of the Bee Hawkmoth, Cephonodes hylas.  We posted a photo of another caterpillar also from Australia a few weeks ago.  You may also compare to the caterpillar images on the Sphingidae of the Eastern Palaearctic website.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Mexican Moths (or butterflies)
December 29, 2009
One a cruise this August leaving Puerto Vallarta, Mexico the ships lights were drawing a large number of moths miles out to sea. One was 6-7″ across and extraordinarily “hairy” (2 photos). The other was about 3″ across the wings and with nice geometric patters (1 photo). I am submitting 2 for identification help.
Thank You
Kevin Schick
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Black Witch

Black Witch

Hi again Kevin,
Your larger moth is a Black Witch, a common species in Mexico.  In the autumn, individuals often fly north and they have been reported from Canada.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Mexican Moths (or butterflies)
December 29, 2009
One a cruise this August leaving Puerto Vallarta, Mexico the ships lights were drawing a large number of moths miles out to sea. One was 6-7″ across and extraordinarily “hairy” (2 photos). The other was about 3″ across the wings and with nice geometric patters (1 photo). I am submitting 2 for identification help.
Thank You
Kevin Schick
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Satellite Sphinx

Satellite Sphinx

Hi Kevin,
Your smaller moth is a Satellite Sphinx, Eumorpha satellitia.  You can read more about it on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.  The species ranges from the southern portions of the U.S. down to South America.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Thank You!
I just wanted to thank WTB for identifying a bug I had crawling up my bedroom wall about a month ago. It was a Western Conifer Seed Bug. After I knew what it was, I hopped onto WTB and found tons of useful info on my bug. Since I found him, I’ve kept him in a container (with plenty of airholes), and I’ve named him Axel. All he needs is water during the winter, and in the spring, I plan to release him on some conifer trees next to my house. Ever since finding the WTB page, I’ve been on here for 2-3 hours every day just looking at all the great pics of all the different bugs you have, I have to say that WTB is a truly amazing website and I cannot believe how much info you guys put out there. Thanks WTB, I am no longer a scaredy-cat about bugs! Thanks again for doing such a great job!
Jenn Kendall
West Brookfield, MA

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination