From the monthly archives: "January 2010"

Bee Fly or Kanye West Imitator?
January 26, 2010
Hi Daniel,
Here I am again with a bug I can’t identify. My first thought is that is was a bee, but maybe it’s a bee fly instead? It didn’t hover around between flowers like a regular honey bee, and when it left the plant, it flew fast and straight right past my ear. I didn’t notice a bee’s buzz when this happened. Any ideas?
Thanks, Anna
Hawthorne, California

Syrphid Fly

Hi Anna,
Though it very closely mimics a Honey Bee, your fly, Eristalinus taeniops, is actually a Syrphid Fly in the family Syrphidae.  Syrphid Flies are also known as Flower Flies or Hover Flies.  According to BugGuide, your Syrphid Fly has only been reported from California.

Syrphid Fly

Daniel,
As usual, thank you so very much.  I did look around at whatsthatbug.com and at bugguide.net and didn’t find anything.  Glad to know that I’m getting better at figuring out the difference between bees and their imitating fly counterparts.
Anna

what kind of moth is this?
January 25, 2010
on june 28th 2008 i was at my school when i saw a really neat moth. it looked as if it was hurt and as a result it could not fly away, and we took some pictures. it reminds me of a tiger moth or a leopard moth. it has an orange and white body with black dots along its orange back and white side, and white tip rear end, its uper legs are orange whith black and white lower legs. its head is furry and white with slim black anteneas, its upper wings are white with black spots and its lower wings are orange with black spots. the only moths i have seen that are this size are large plain brown ones so i am very curious about this.
Jolena J
northern alberta, canada

Salt Marsh Moth

Hi Jolena,
The reason this Salt Marsh Moth reminds you of a Tiger Moth is that the Salt Marsh Moth is in the Tiger Moth family Arctiidae.  The Salt Marsh Moth, Estigmene acrea, is found throughout North America except for Alaska and the Yukon, according to BugGuide.

Salt Marsh Moth

Invasion Phuket : The Next Wave – 26.01.10
January 26, 2010
Hi Daniel,
Greetings from Phuket once again and a belated Happy New Year for 2010.
I’m not sure if you remember, but I contacted you in December 2007 with regards to an infestation of Atticus Atlas (in the large and slightly scary larval stage) at one of the properties we manage.
Today we have another infestation at another property that we manage involving these hard to discern little chaps, please see the attachments.

Unidentified Caterpillars: Early Instar???

We would be most grateful for your identification skills so that we can establish if they are friend of foe. Needless to say – the Villa Owners are not too keen on them as their pools are becoming clogged with caterpillar droppings.

Caterpillar Droppings

Thanking you once again for your assistance.
With kind regards,
Mark.
Phuket Branch, Thailand

Unidentified Caterpillar

Hi Mark,
We fondly remember your Atlas Moth Caterpillar letter quite well.  This current request will take some research, and we may just post it as unidentified and turn our readership loose since we have two pressing letters to write this morning to local city councilmembers.  We would like to request some additional information, mainly, the species of tree that the caterpillars are feeding upon.  It looks like it might be some species of fig.  That would greatly assist in the identification process.  Also, in one image, there are a great number of Caterpillars.  Is that a grouping of smaller, younger individuals?  We cannot find a match on the caterpillar page of the Thai Bugs website.

Unidentified Caterpillar

Update from Karl
Hi Daniel and Mark:
The host tree looks like a fig, possibly Ficus retusa, and I am fairly certain the caterpillars are Bombycidae (Silkworm Moths). Beyond that it gets difficult but I think the most likely candidate genera are Trilocha or Ocinara, both of which feed on fig trees and are common in southeast Asia. These genera are very closely related and may even be synonymous, at least for some species. The thoracic swelling that is evident, particularly in the smaller individuals, is common among Bombycidae larvae. The smaller ones also appear to have a caudal horn, another common feature. I don’t see a horn in the other photos but the angles are wrong and, in any event, these horns typically get shorter or disappear as the larvae grow. The head region of the larger individuals looks similar to another related species, the Domestic Silkworm Moth (Bombyx mori), which does not occur in the wild.  If I had to guess I would go with either O. albicollis or T. varians, which may in fact be color variations of the same species, according to some sources. Reference photos of larvae are difficult to find and the adults would likely be easier to identify, so perhaps you could submit another photo when they emerge. Regards.
Karl

Dear Daniel,
Thanks for the information.
My team are currently trying to identify the tree in question. As soon as we get a handle on it we’ll let you know.
In terms of treatment, do you have any recommendations ? As you know, I’m loathe to terrorise them with a toxic, chemical bath. If we leave them alone, will they eventually go of their own volition ?
Thanks again for your superb help.
With kind regards,
Mark.

Hi Mark,
If this is the first year that they appeared, it is probably just a seasonal population explosion.  They will probably mature shortly and then their population will return to its normal numbers.  We would refrain from extreme chemical measures.

Hi again Daniel,
My on site team have given it their best guess as a Ficus benghalensis.
Please see the link below.
With kind regards,
Mark.

Cheers, Daniel.
Music to my ears.
Have a great day and all the best,
Mark.

Is this a Shield Bug?
January 26, 2010
Image 1.I first thought this was a Shield Bug, but am not so sure especially the hind legs?
Image2. Large 2inch beetle?
Image3. What type of Assasin bug could this be?
Many Thanks
Jeff Keyes
Jeff @sportsmancreek.org
Grafton New South Wales Australia

Bess Beetle

Hi Jeff,
We have already chastised you for sending us three images and a list instead of a more descriptive letter, but your submission has provided us with one of our more entertaining links in a long time.  First we will identify your beetle, which is a Passalid Beetle.  In North America, they are also called Patent Leather Beetles or Bess Beetles, and they live in colonies in rotted wood where mated pairs care for and communicate with their young.  According to the Rainforest Insects of Australia website:  “Passalid beetles are found particularly in wet tropical and subtropical forests where they feed on decaying wood.
Many are large and shiny black with ‘waists’ between front and back sections.
They are of particular interest because they live in semi-social family groups, with parents caring for and feeding their young.
The young larvae lets its parents know where it is by rubbing hind and mid legs together to produce a sound.
The adults (which rub hind wings against abdomens in reply) then chew up wood for the larva to feed on.
Their presence in a log can often be detected by the presence of large piles of sawdust collecting beneath the log.
The Csiro entomology site of Australian insects lists two species, Pharochilus rugiceps, the Common Passalid Beetle, and the Giant Passalid Beetle, Mastachilus quaestionis.  Alas, we are unable to tell you which species you have submitted.

And now for that interesting link we promised.  Upon trying to research a species name for an Australian Passalid Beetle, we located a page with an Xray of a human chest and the title:  “Bronchial beetle  D J Serisier, M Singh, S D Bowler + Author Affiliations  Department of Respiratory Medicine, Mater Adult Hospital, South Brisbane, Queensland 4101, Australia”  The accompanying text reads: A 74 year old man presented to hospital after waking with chest discomfort and haemoptysis, and left lung collapse was seen on the chest radiograph (fig 1). Twelve years earlier he had undergone laryngectomy and postoperative radiotherapy for laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma and had a permanent stoma. He had a smoking history of 35 pack years. New endobronchial malignancy was suspected, but bronchoscopy revealed the cause of his left sided airway obstruction to be a 4 cm beetle (fig 2)! Chest radiographs taken after removal of the beetle demonstrated lung re-expansion. The beetle was later identified as a Passalid beetle, species aulacocyclus, a species that resides in rotting logs. After posting an image of the beetle, the story continues with: During the day preceding his symptoms the patient had been working in his yard, chain sawing trees. It is likely that the beetle became attached to his clothing and that night crawled through his open tracheostomy while he was sleeping, becoming wedged in his left main bronchus. He subsequently awoke with the sensation of ‘something scratching in my chest’, a description only fully appreciated in retrospect.  …  Our patient has been advised to cover his stoma while sleeping. Although further unexpected Passalid beetle inhalation is highly unlikely, there are many other ‘creepy-crawlies’ to beware in subtropical Australia!” Though we cannot positively identify which species of Passalid Beetle you have submitted, we have been highly entertained.  We also followed up on the species mentioned in the Bronchial Beetle story, and found and Oz Insect page on Aulacocyclus edentulus.

Dear Daniel.
Firstly, chastisement accepted and respected! I am amazed that my email got through as I live in a fairly remote area and my laptop is powered by the sun. I have a wildlife refuge and am putting together a composite list of all creatures great and small. Please check out www.sportsmancreek.org and the corresponding blog site http:// sportsmancreek.wordpress.com/ which I update as much as possible. The internet is such a powerful tool and your found link to my beetle is totally amazing! And yes, I have heard them communicating under bark of Ironbark trees. Thanks, again for your interest and prompt response.
Kind Regards
Jeff Keyes.

Hi again Jeff,
Thanks so much for providing information on your conservation website.  It has long been a fantasy here at What’s That Bug? to apply for a grant to go to Australia since there are such amazing contributions to the website from down under, and there are also a wealth of Australian websites devoted to insects.  Your own project at Sportsman Creek is a noble effort and we wish you all the luck with the project.  Here in Los Angeles, our editorial staff is fighting its own battle to save the highly endangered and fragile California Black Walnut Woodland ecosystem, and our biggest problem is that the few remaining areas of this natural habitat are in highly desirable real estate areas, and speculation developers tend to have greater capital than preservationists do.  We want sun powered laptops.

Dear Daniel.
I appreciate the encouraging words. It, seems developers worldwide do have the “whip-hand”, for the present. I have over 40 logging trucks per day trundle their booty to the mills passing the front gate! However, we must persevere in seeking answers to long asked questions. If you guys make to Australia, there is an Open Invitation to Sportsman Creek wildlife refuge.
Kind Regards
Jeff

Is this a Shield Bug?
January 26, 2010
Image 1.I first thought this was a Shield Bug, but am not so sure especially the hind legs?
Image2. Large 2inch beetle?
Image3. What type of Assasin bug could this be?
Many Thanks
Jeff Keyes
Jeff @sportsmancreek.org
Grafton New South Wales Australia

Clown Bug

Dear Jeff,
Generally, we only like to post one species of insect, or at least only closely related species in the same posting, and we prefer that letters be more than a list, as information that is provided is often very helpful for identification purposes.  Detailed letters are also much more entertaining than reading a list.  With that said, your first and third images are both in the same family, Coreidae, commonly called the Leaf Footed Bugs or Big Legged Bugs.  In the case of your specimens, Big Legged Bugs seems more appropriate.  We suspect that your two images might be the same species, as nymphs are often more brightly colored than adults which are winged.  We researched this on the Brisbane Insect website and we believe you have submitted photos of a Clown Bug in the adult and late instar nymph forms.  The Clown Bug, Amorbus robustus, is also called the Eucalyptus Tip Bug.  Your photos are beautiful.

Clown Bug nymph

Eggplant tortoise beetles?!
January 25, 2010
Hi,
Last summer I started finding these tortoise beetles in central Oklahoma. They are translucent green, about the size of a pea, and have a smooth “shell”. I think that they might be eggplant tortoise beetles, but I’m not sure. Thanks for the help.
Josh Kouri

Eggplant Tortoise Beetles

Hi Josh,
We believe you have correctly identified the Eggplant Tortoise Beetle, Gratiana pallidula, though your letter did not indicate the plant that the specimens were feeding upon.  Often a food plant is a critical factor in the correct identification of an insect.  According to BugGuide, the Eggplant Tortoise Beetle feeds upon “several species of Solanum (tomato family: Solanaceae).

Eggplant Tortoise Beetle

Sorry, I wasn’t sure what species of plant they were found on. I did some research on the Solanum family and was able to identify the plant the beetles were feeding on as  /Solanum elaeagnifolium, /the Silverleaf Nightshade. Hope that helps,
Josh

Thanks Josh,
That is consistent with the preferred host plants for the Eggplant Tortoise Beetle and tends to confirm the identification.