From the monthly archives: "January 2010"

Colorful fly
January 31, 2010
I spent a while trying to get a good shot of this fly that was warming itself in Costa Rica. Any idea what it is? It was about twice the size of a common housefly.
Santa Elena cloud forest, Costa Rica

Tachinid Fly

Hi Miles,
As we said in a previously email to you, often exact species identification of tropical species is quite difficult with online resources, and an expert in the family would be necessary.  With that said, we are relatively certain that this is a Tachinid Fly in the family Tachinidae.  Tachinid Flies are internal parasites whose hosts are a variety of insects and other arthropods.  Caterpillars are the most common hosts.

Dead leaf mimic
January 31, 2010
Hi, I got a photo of this dead leaf mimic in Monteverde, Costa Rica during a night walk. Can you tell me what it is exactly please?
Costa Rica

Katydid, possibly Mimetica species

Hi Miles,
Often the identification of tropical insects can be very difficult, and the best we are able to do is the family level, or even merely the level of order.  Interestingly, back in 2008, we received an image that was taken in Panama in the 1970s of a Katydid that was identified by Piotr Naskrecki, an expert in the family, as Mimetica crenulata.  Your Katydid looks very similar to that individual, and we believe it may be in the same genus.  While the image of Mimetica crenulata has an undulating wing edge, your specimen has what appears to be the petiole, or place where the leaf would be attached to the plant as part of its very effective mimicry.  We will attempt to contact Piotr Naskrecki to verify that identification.  More searching led us to a photo online on the Ecolibrary website, but no species name was provided.

Piotr Responds
Hi Daniel,
This is probably a female of Mimetica incisa.

milkweed bug???
January 30, 2010
I was in Tucson in October of 2009, and the Desert Milkweed was in bloom. On one occasion I got a photo of a bee on the flowers, and on another I caught this bug. In all my searching, it appears to be a Milkweed Bug, but the colors are wrong. I see descriptions of all kinds but nowhere do I see either picture or description for this coloring. Do I have the wrong identity?
Chris in Florida
Phoenix, Arizona

Blood Colored Milkweed Bug

Hi Chris,
You are correct about this being a Milkweed Bug, but it isn’t one of the more commonly encountered species.  This is the first photo we have received in nearly ten years of a Blood Colored Milkweed Bug, Oncopeltus sanguineolentus.  According to BugGuide:  “Range  Apparent host plant is restricted to w. AZ, se. CA, and s. NV. in the U.S.  Food  Seems to have a strong affinity for Rush or Desert Milkweed – Asclepias subulata – as all photos of the bug are on that species of milkweed (so far)…  A. subulata occurs in se CA, s. NV, and w. AZ.
”  Thanks so much for adding to our species archive.

Costa Rica Spider
January 30, 2010
This spider was found in a cabin in the jungle in the southeastern corner of Costa Rica, near Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. S/he appeared in the evening around 7 pm, and was just sitting on the wall when I turned on the light. When I used the glass and paper method to move her, I noticed s/he moved kind of like a crab: sideways rather than forwards. S/he was fearful rather than aggressive in response to my trapping efforts. For scale, I left the white light switch panel in the photo, which was probably 5 or 5 1/2″ across. I have never seen anything like this spider and I have been unable to figure out what it might be based on anything I’ve seen online. I later asked a local about the photo and I was told that these spiders are seen when trees are cut down. I would appreciate any information you can share that might help me identify this spider.
Anne Bunner
Costa Rica

Tailless Whipscorpion

Hi Anne,
Though it is an Arachnid, your Tailless Whipscorpion is neither a spider nor a scorpion.  Tailless Whipscorpions, despite having a frightening appearance, are perfectly harmless since they have no venom.  They are shy nocturnal hunters that prey upon cockroaches and other night crawlers.

Metallic green beetle from Australia
January 30, 2010
Dear Bugman,
I was photographing birds in a flowering tree this week and I noticed 2 of these pretty beetles. When I got too close to one, it flew off and hovered near by and settled on another flower bunch. I live in a rainforest area of tropical far north Queensland and it is our summer / rainy season. I would appreciate any help in identifying it. I didn’t realize there were so many pretty bugs out there! Thanks in advance.
Cheers, Jenny
Lake Eacham, Far North Queensland, Australia

Green Scarab Beetle

Hi Jenny,
We did a really quick web search and we were unable to identify the species of Green Metallic Scarab you have found.  We believe it is in the subfamily Cetoniinae, the Fruit and Flower Chafers.  It is possible that it is not native to Australia, because it is so distinctive, we thought species identification would be easy.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to provide us with additional information.

Karl supplies some possible identifications
Hi Daniel and Jenny:
I am also a little perplexed that such a distinctive beetle should be so hard to identify. I was able to find several images of very similar Australian beetles on the web but most of them were either unidentified or labeled as Christmas beetles. I assume the latter were either misnamed, or that common name applies to other beetles besides the true Christmas beetles in the genus Anoplognathus. I think this beetle may be a flower chafer in the Tribe Schizorhinini (Cetoniinae), probably in one of three genera (although there could be others): Ischiopsopha, Lomaptera or Mycterophallus. The closest matches I could find were Mycterophallus duboulayi and Lomaptera duboulayi (these are likely the same species as there is considerable confusion and synonymy among all three of these genera). It could also be a migrant from nearby Papua New Guinea, where the Schizorhinini are diverse and abundant. The Papua Insects Foundation has posted many spectacular photos of Schizorhinini from the Indonesian side of the island. Eons ago I had the good fortune of spending several years in PNG and I recall seeing thousands of very similar looking beetles, albeit dismembered and stitched into beautiful pieces of body ornamentation, particularly headbands. Regards.

Strange, spider/crab-like insect. Poisonous?
January 30, 2010
Many of them appear late at night on hills near our beaches. A long time ago a doctor told me it was an assasin bug that transmits the Chaga’s Disease, but after looking up some pictures of the actual bug, I’ve had my doubts. What is it? Is it poisonous or harmless?
Adelie Penguin
South America


Dear Adelie,
South America is a large continent.  This is a harmless Harvestman in the order Opiliones.  They are Arachnids and despite the resemblance to spiders which have venom, Harvestmen are perfectly harmless as they have no venom.  Harvestmen are also known as Daddy Long Legs.


Phew, thank goodness. I have no reason to fear it anymore. If you need more details regarding its geographical location, it was found specifically in Chile, Valparaiso region. This one sure is different from other Daddy Long Legs, though. I mean, I’ve seen pictures of them before but none showed one with a body as big as this one’s. Well, we learn new things everyday, I guess!
Again, thank you very much.