From the yearly archives: "2009"

Looks like giant fly
August 27, 2009
Keep seeing these all over my neighborhood.
Curiously, Sarah
Lansdowne, PA

Annual Cicada

Annual Cicada

Hi Sarah,
We have gotten multiple requests recently to have these giant flies identified.  This is actually an Annual Cicada, most likely Tibicen canicularis, but they are frequently called Dogday Harvestflies.  According to BugGuide:  “Explanation of Names  DOG-DAY: a reference to the hot “dog days” of late summer when this species is heard singing; at this time in the northern hemisphere the Dog Star (Sirius) becomes visible above the horizon in the Big Dog constellation (Canis Major)  CANICULARIS: from the Latin “canicula” (a little dog, the Dog Star, Sirius)  HARVESTFLY: another reference to the late season song of this species, heard during harvest time.”

Huntsman Spider or Fishing Spider?
August 26, 2009
Hello. I live in Charleston, SC, and noticed this spider crawling up the side of the house. Biggest spider that I have ever seen around here, hands down. At first, I thought it was a wolf spider, then thought it might be a Fishing Spider. Now wonder if its not a Huntsman Spider. Can you tell me for sure what it is? And is it aggressive? Poisonous? Thanks in advance.
freekoffhisleash
Charleston, SC

Fishing Spider

Fishing Spider

Dear freekoffhisleash,
Your spider is a Fishing Spider in the genus Dolomedes, most likely Dolomedes tenebrosus.  You may compare your photo to the ones posted on BugGuide.

KY: Black wasp with showy yellow antennae
August 26, 2009
This wasp has been around my house for the past few weeks, but its the first time I’ve ever seen this species anywhere. It looks significantly larger than the common red wasp here. Reminds me of a tarantula hawk but maybe slightly smaller. I looked through pictures of the local spider wasps but couldn’t find a match–looks more similar to that one from Australia except the wings look darker. Has very quick, jerky movement and exhibits wing shaking or flickering. It appears to be foraging for possibly other insects the way it is crawling all over these vines in the picture. It is very aggressive and has chased and pursued me hundreds of yards–so I’m lucky to have finally snapped these pictures at a safe distance. Body is completely black, Wings are black and s hiny with brown terminal ends, and the antennae are slightly mustard yellow and can curl. The passionflower with the posterior view is exactly 1″ from base to top (excluding the spikes on top of the bud) for scale, but I can’t tell if the wasp is forshortened by perspective due to its angle because it “looks” longer than that to me. It’s a different bud than the one with the side view of the wasp–I wasn’t able to find that bud again.
I’m not too crazy about this thing because of its aggressiveness, but I’d like to know more. If it is invasive or dangerous I might try to eradicate it, but if it is something rare or less dangerous that it looks, I might try to leave it be!
Jeff
Louisa, KY, USA

Spider Wasp: Entypus unifasciatus

Spider Wasp: Entypus unifasciatus

Dear Jeff,
We are excited to be getting photos of a magnificent new species for our website.  You are correct that this is a Spider Wasp in the family Pompilidae.  The species is Entypus unifasciatus and it doesn’t have a common name.  BugGuide has a considerable amount of information on this species.

Spider Wasp: Entypus unifasciatus

Spider Wasp: Entypus unifasciatus

BugGuide indicates: Life Cycle There is one generation per year. Males emerge first. By late August/early September most females are worn. By mid- to late September most female are very worn, with most of the apical area of the wing being tattered away. Life cycle probably more drawn out in far south, but there is very little difference. Most individuals do not persist into October. … Parasitoid of spiders, including wolf spiders (Lycosidae). … Females dig a burrow that ends in a terminal chamber off of the side of a mammal burrow or large crack in the ground. The serrations on the hind tibiae are used to aid the movement of soil out of the burrow entrance. The position in which the egg is laid is unknown. Larvae feed on one large spider and, as in all Pompilids that have one generation per year, overwinter as pupae.” We hope knowing a bit about this magnificent wasp will keep you from trying to eradicate it.

Spider Wasp: Entypus unifasciatus

Spider Wasp: Entypus unifasciatus

Mystery Fly
August 26, 2009
Hi, I’ve noticed some mysterious flies around my yard, and I’ve been unable to identify them. They don’t seem interested in the normal waste and rot that many regular flies like, and seem to be solitary. They have ferocious looking piercing mouthparts, and their overall shape reminds me of a military helicopter. Maybe that’s just me, though. I’ve been trying for weeks to get a picture, and they’ve eluded me — until this morning, when I found a dead one tangled in an old spider web. It’s slightly dessicated, but I believe there’s enough detail for an ID. I hope.
Chrissy
Trenton, NJ

Picture Winged Fly

Picture Winged Fly

Hi Chrissy,
We are happy your perseverance paid off.  According to BugGuide, the Picture Winged Fly, Delphinia picta:  “Breeds in decaying organic matter, such as compost.

Green Walking Stick?
August 25, 2009
I found this “little” bugger by a pool in the DFW area of Texas. He very calmly sat there for 10 minutes while I went to fetch my camera. It was about 6 inches long.
Katie F.
Texas

Brunner's Mantis

Brunner’s Mantis

Hi Katie,
We are quite excited to have received your letter at this point in time as we are currently working on the Bug Love section of our book that is devoted to mating insects.  This is a female Brunner’s Mantis, Brunneria borealis. We first posted a photo of a Brunner’s Mantis in September 2005.  According to BugGuide, it is also known as a Walkingstick Mantis (hence your question) or a Northern Grass Mantid which is a bit odd since it ranges in:  “Southeastern United States: North Carolina west to Texas.
”  The reason your letter has us excited is that BugGuide indicates Brunner’s Mantis:  “reproduces by parthanogenesis; males are unknown.”  This of course demands considerable more research on our part.  Parthenogenesis is virgin birth, and a female Brunner’s Mantis is able to produce an ootheca with viable eggs without ever contacting another member of her species.  There was a study on Brunner’s Mantis in 1948 by Michael James Denham White entitled The Chromosomes of the Parthenogenetic Mantid Brunneria borealis in Evolution, vol. 2 (1948), pp. 90-3 and we are trying to get a copy of that paper.   White’s interest in parthenogenesis continued in his study of a South African grasshopper, Moraba (later Warramaba) virgo.  An online biography on MJD White states:  “In an earlier study in Austin on the mantid Brunneria borealis White had described an exclusive parthenogenetic reproduction system and had pondered on the genetic consequences of parthenogenesis for a number of years. He sent off a short note to the Australian Journal of Science about his discovery, which was published in August 1962. White enthusiastically took Ken Key, his taxonomist colleague, to look at the all-female population. Key was initially skeptical that this would prove to be a valid species. However, he was soon convinced that no males were present and provided a suitable taxonomic place for the species, with a joint publication in the Australian Journal of Zoology in 1963.”  The biography makes a point about White’s pronunciation of the word “femalllllllllle” during his lectures.

Parthenogenic reproduction, though rare in insects, is not unique to the Brunner’s Mantis.  Many Aphids undergo both sexual and asexual reproduction at certain seasons and under certain conditions, but the fact that there are no known male Brunner’s Mantis specimens brings up some unusual questions.  We wonder if DNA analysis would reveal that all individuals are identical and originating with an Eve, much the way the DNA of plants started from cuttings are all identical.  Every single Sterling Silver rose is genetically identical since they have all been started from cuttings of the original specimen hybridized in 1957 by Gladys Fisher when she crossed Peace with an unnamed seedling.  The interesting case of the Brunner’s Mantis begs the question if there were ever males of the species.  It is possible that once the females developed the ability to reproduce without insemination, the then useless males vanished.  Without males to change the DNA with each generation, there can be no natural evolution or variation.

Strange bug on my Porch in AZ
August 26, 2009
Hello, I live in south eastern Arizona, and we recently bought this house. We have these strange bugs coming around the back porch when we turn the light on. I have no idea what they are and thought you might be able to help. We are wondering if there is anything to worry about with these. Thanks, Chris
Chris in AZ
Sierra Vista Arizona

Mesquite Girdler

Mesquite Girdler

Hi Chris,
We absolutely love our new server which we just started using this week.  It was a fine investment.  It enabled us to quickly search our own archive to identify your Mesquite Girdler, Oncideres rhodosticta.  We recall spending quite a bit of time in the past trying to identify this beetle, and we eventually requested assistance from Eric Eaton.
We quickly located our September 2007 posting, and now that we have the scientific name, we can link to the BugGuide page as well.  Here is the information Eric Eaton provided us in the past:  “Females climb out on a mesquite twig and chew a deep groove around the diameter. Each female then lays an egg beyond the scar. The girdling kills the twig beyond the scar and the larval offspring bores in that dying wood. This, and other species of longhorned beetles, effectively prune trees and shrubs in this manner, literally shaping the forests and woodlands where they live. Eric