From the monthly archives: "February 2010"

walking stick
February 6, 2010
hallo! I saw this walking stick at night in the primary rainforrest in ecuador in the yasuni national park

Walkingstick:  Pseudophasma species

Hi there Janosch,
We will try to identify this interesting species of Walkingstick, and we are enlisting the assistance of our readership as well.  It has some unusual distinguishing features, like the red head and joints, and the bulbous tip of the abdomen.

There are many wonderful images on the Biodiversity Photography Phasmida Western Ecuador website, but alas, none of them match your interesting specimen.  We believe we found your species, Orephoetes peruana, on the Insects of Ecuador website.  We verified that on the Phasmids in Cyberspace website.

Update: January 4, 2011
In trying to identify another Ecuadorean Walkingstick, we stumbled upon Insects.Org which identifies this Walkingstick as
Pseudophasma spp.

Grey larva/caterpillar crawling out of soil after rain.
February 6, 2010
We had these little guys swarm out of our recently weeded soil after it rained. They are about 1 to 1.5 inches long, grey with black short stripes, with a four-pronged tail they looks like a faux-face. Could they be some sort of beetle grub?
Mary Jane
Los Angeles, CA

Leather Jackets

Hi Mary Jane,
These are the larvae of Crane Flies, and they are called Leather Jackets.  You didn’t indicate what part of Los Angeles this happened, but we received reports in January of Leather Jackets in large numbers from Van Nuys and Canoga Park.  We then received a comment that they might be the invasive introduced European Crane Flies, Tipula paludosa and Tipula oleracea.  We are not qualified to make the species call on your Leather Jackets, which might be an invasive introduced species, or they may simply be one of the numerous native Crane Flies.  We may try to contact Chen Young who runs the Crane Flies of Pennsylvania website to see if he can determine if they are native or exotic.

Wow, thanks!  I live close to the Highland Park/Eagle Rock area of Los Angeles.  We did have quite a few crane flies over the summer. It was creepy having so many (hundreds) crawl out of the soil.
Thanks for your time!

Chen Young responds
February 6, 2010
Hi Daniel,
Good to hear from you.  I have looked both of the images and none of them are the introduced European crane flies.  Noticed the middle lobes of the larvae are very dark and sharp which is not the character for the European crane flies.  The middle two lobes of the European crane fly larvae are soft and flesh like.  I don’t have an image with me now at home but I will send you one Monday when I get to work at the museum.  By the way, we are having a big snow storm and everything is closed for that matter thus I don’t think I will venture out to the museum  to get the image.
As for adult flies you can also check here for comparison of the two species.  These two species have also been reported recently in Michigan, New York, New England states, and Utah.  It will eventually in Pennsylvania.
Okay, I will send you image of the European crane flies on Monday.

An Australian Grub?
February 5, 2010
Hello Bugman, it’s funny, just as you identified my Palm Planthopper, I came across another mystery on my walk. It’s about half an inch in length, and looks a bit like a cross between a pillbug anf a colourful grub.
PS. I contacted Dr Fletcher from Orange Agricultural Institute about the Planthopper, and as a consequence he added my photo of it to their website:
“Lovely pictures of Magia subocellata (Family Lophopidae). This species (and one other species of Magia) is native to North Queensland. It was found a couple of years ago in the tropical palm collection at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney and may well have spread to your area from there.”
Ridou Ridou
Sydney, Australia

Giant Scale Insect

Hi again Ridou Ridou,
We didn’t do quite as well with this submission.  We are nearly certain this is a Caterpillar in the family Limacodidae, which in the U.S. are known as Slug Caterpillars.  Many of them have stinging spines.  The Brisbane Insect website, which has a few species posted, though none resemble your example, indicates they are called Cup Moths because of the shape of their cocoons, and the caterpillars that sting are known as Spitfires, our new favorite insect name.  Your individual is most probably not one of the stinging species.

Giant Scale Insect

Eric Eaton Disagrees
I’m thinking the “cup moth caterpillar” from Australia is actually some kind of giant scale insect, but I have no idea which one.  I could also be totally wrong, but I think it is worth checking into.

Thanks Eric,
WE will research this tomorrow.

Giant Scale Insect

Lack of any kind of insect (Alaska)
February 5, 2010
We are here temporarily (Fairbanks AK), and I have not seen one insect of any kind in three months! It’s really creepy! Not even a house related “bug”. Just one spiderweb. Now even dust bunnies make me jump, as I’m like someone waiting for a balloon to pop. I suppose I’ll pay for this later when the mosquitoes hatch, but it’s sure fun to look at your website for now….
J Sugino

Dear J,
We are sorry to hear about the dearth of insects in Alaska, and your subsequent withdrawals, but it is currently winter there.  We are happy to hear you are getting some pleasure from our website, and we assure you that come spring, you will undoubtedly be graced with some Alaskan insect wildlife.

catapillar found in Haiti
February 5, 2010
A friend of mine is working relief in Haiti right now. They came across this little caterpillar when he said all of the locals helping him jumped back after spotting it. He can’t speak the same language to find out why. But he wants to know if this is a harmful caterpillar at all.
Thanks for your time. Ryan Zwicker.

Sphinx Caterpillar: Erinnyis species???

Hi Ryan,
If you can submit additional photos from different angles, it may facilitate a more exact identification.  This is most certainly the caterpillar of a Sphinx Moth in the family Sphingidae, and it is perfectly harmless.  Sphinx Moth Caterpillars are frequently called Hornworms because many species have a caudal horn.  We went to Bill Oehlke’s website, where we always go for Sphinx identifications, and we searched the species index for Haiti.  Though we could not find an exact match, the form and markings of this caterpillar most closely approximate species in the genus Erinnyis.  There is much variability in these caterpillars with regards to coloration, and many species have both brown and green forms as well as other variations.  Some possibilities from Bill Oehlke’s website are Erinnyis alope, Erinnyis crameri, and Erinnyis ello.  We will contact Bill Oehlke to see if he can be more conclusive.

Hi Daniel,
I just wanted to say thank you for the response. Seeing how my friend is doing relief work i’m not sure he will be able to provide any more pictures of one. He only had the one i know of. The information you provided was great, my wife and i spent quite a bit of time looking last night trying to figure it out, but we don’t have any knowledge of bugs in any form so we thought we’d ask people who do when we came across your website. Thanks again for the help. If anything else comes of it we’d love to know. If the little guy is harmless, we’re still not sure why the locals jumped back, other then it just being a bug. lol.
Thanks again, We really appreciate it.

black florida grasshopper with orange and yellow spots!!
February 5, 2010
Last June I went on vacation in Florida (St. Augustine). While I was there I found this enormous grass hopper. It was about three inches long and very bulky. It was shiny black with orange and yellow spots running down its back, orange stripes on its belly, and orange highlights on its head and thorax. I don’t think that it was fully grown because it had stubby little wings, like those of a nymph. Also, it had no antennae, so I’m wondering it maybe a bird or something attacked it. Thanks for any I.D. you can provide.
Josh Kouri

Eastern Lubber Grasshopper

Hi Josh,
There are two distinct color variations of the Eastern Lubber Grasshopper, Romalea microptera, and this black variation is one.  The other is yellow and orange with some darker markings.

Eastern Lubber Grasshopper