From the monthly archives: "February 2010"

February 23, 2010
Wondering what this is – common and latin name
chira Island, Costa Rica

Katydid: Ancistrocercus circumdatus

Dear david,
Our readership enjoys hearing details about the sightings that are submitted to our website.  For identification purposes, additional information is often quite helpful.  The spare wording of your letter (and that of your numerous other submissions) fails to engage our readership and doesn’t provide us with anything helpful except a location.  We will contact an expert in the Orthopterans, Piotr Naskrecki, to see if he can provide a response.

Hi Daniel,
This is a pair of Ancistrocercus circumdatus (Pseudophyllinae), a species
common in Guanacaste.

Ed. Note:
Technically, these Katydids are not mating, but since Piotr Naskrecki indicated that they are a pair, we are taking creative license and tagging them as Bug Love.

Hi Daniel,
Ok thank you for the feedback.  I didn’t want to be long winded as I don’t have too much to offer and I thought people wanted brief  listings, but I can add a few things I guess as to the area I found it in.  Can I update it online?

Yes you may.

Good Old Fashioned Weevil Lovin’
February 23, 2010
I found these guys on a day hike at Cuc Phuong National Park in Vietnam. It was around May 13th and the rainy season had not quite started yet.
Vietnam, Cuc Phuong National Park

Mating Weevils from Viet Nam

Hi Danielle,
We will attempt to identify these Weevils.  Can you tell us how large they were?

Tersa sphinx or other moth?
February 23, 2010
Okay, so at first I thought that I had readily identified this as a Tersa Sphinx, however they aren’t even listed here in Hawaii on the Insects of Hawaii website (not that it doesn’t mean they don’t exist here). So, then I decided to look a little further and realized that the Tersa Sphinx has black and white coloration on the lower wings. I went back outside to try to bother my newfound subject into showing me his/her wings, Took some effort, but to my surprise they were orangey pink not black and white. So now here I sit stumped and confused. It was approximately 1.5-2 inches long, and is sitting on a fire hose connection under the outside light. Could it possibly be Hippotion boerhaviae or maybe perhaps Hippotion rosetta? How are you supposed to be able to tell the difference in these moths? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Oahu, Hawaii

Hawkmoth: Hippotion species

Dear Tina,
We are nearly certain your moth is a Yam Hawkmoth, Theretra nessus, and it is depicted on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.  Bill only has one image of a living moth, and your moth has light markings on the thorax that differ from the identified image.  We checked a second website, and the Sphingidae of the Eastern Palaearctic has numerous living specimens, but again, they all lack the light stripe on your individual.  We are copying Bill Oehlke on this response in the hope that he can either confirm our identification, or provide a correct identification.  We hope you will also provide Bill with additional information as he is compiling comprehensive data on Sphingidae sightings, and he may also want to post your photos on his site.

Hawkmoth: Hippotion species

Bill Oehlke makes a correction
Here is message I sent to Tina:
Hi Tina,
Daniel Marlos asked me to have a look at your Sphingidae images from Hawaii.
There are no known resident populations of Hippotion species on Hawaii, but I agree that your pictures show either H. rosetta or H. boerhaviae
Sphingidae are known to fly great distances, but your specimen seems to be in very fine shape, not at all warn from a long flight.
I suspect it came in on one of the cruise ships. It may have alighted on one of the ships in the South Pacific, attracted by lights, and may have remained there for a trip to Hawaii.
It also may have come in on an imported shipment of potted plants. They don’t always get inspected as well as they should, and if the larva had already gone underground, it would have gone unnoticed until it emerged about fourteen days later as a moth in a new location. Also possible that someone found the larva or pupa while digging, wanted to see what it would become, put it in a jar, hopped on an airplane and flew to Hawaii.
While on vacation the moth emerged and you photographed it.
You are right, it is not Xylophanes tersa; nor do I think it is Theretra nessus.
Determining identifications for many look-alike Sphingidae species can be difficult. As your moth is an obvious stray or import, we do not know its origin. Sometimes seeng the hindwing helps, sometimes seeing the ventral surface works.
There aere some species so similar that DNA barcoding or analysis of genitalia are necessary to tell them apart.
Bill Oehlke

I wanted to say thank you so much for the quick responses. I did find Hippotion boerhaviae listed on the species index for Hawaiian insects on the insects of Hawaii website, though it does say that they are not native. I don’t know if they can be readily found here, but I am assuming that is what it means. As to Bill Oehlke using my photos for his website, I would be more than honored, and if he needed any additional data I would be more than willing to provide it as well. Again, thank you all for such speedy and informative responses.

Ed. Note
The Sphingidae of the Eastern Palaearctic website indicates:  “Adults can also travel long distances, either voluntary or involuntary. Bell & Scott (1937) once saw hundreds come on board a ship sailing between Aden (Yemen) and Bombay (India) during a cyclone.

Large brown and white spider and cocoon in the making
February 22, 2010
Hi- ….  The other picture was in the same place on the same trip. It was right on the edge of the swamp surrounded by a myriad of cypress trees. There were tons of these cocoons all over, and the leaves they were on were practically stripped (by the caterpillars, I’m guessing). I.D. would be appreciated!
Collier County, FL

Brazilian Skipper Pupa

Hi Sammy,
The horn at the end resembles the horn on a Sphingidae caterpillar, but we don’t believe your pupa is in that family.  We wish you were able to provide the food plant as that often assists in identification.  We will post this mystery and see if we get any assistance.

Hi- the plant he (or she) was on is called fireflag, or alligator flag.  Hope that helps.

It does not look like a sphingid to me.
Not even sure if the “horn” is on the front end or tail end.
Bill Oehlke

Karl identifies the pupa of a Brazilian Skipper
Hi Daniel and Sammy:
This looks like the pupa or chrysalis of a Brazilian Skipper (a.k.a. Larger Canna Leafroller), Calpodes ethlius, in the family Hesperiidae. There is a very similar photo on the Bugguide and the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has posted an extensive information page. According to the latter site, the larval host plants are Canna Lilies and related species (looks about right from this photo). It is primarily a Central and South American species but has become established in Florida, Texas, and southern Arizona. Somewhat unusually, the horn is actually at the head end. Regards.

Inadvertent Carnage
February 22, 2010
Hi, WTB,
I’ve been enjoying getting acquainted with your site over the past few days.  Thanks to “kkroeker” and to Eric Eaton for the ID of the Humphrey’s Grasshoppers.
Here’s a sad photo of totally innocent, inadvertent carnage.  I had spent a little bit of time one morning in a small meadow where I usually find something to shoot, and where I am always looking for walking sticks because of past success in finding them there (Southern Arizona, foothills of the Santa Rita Mountains, about 4,400 ft, mid-September).
After returning home and a quick change of clothes, I was getting back into my car when I was shocked and saddened to see this poor specimen on my car seat.  Apparently, he had hitched a ride on the back of my pants and suffered the 30 minute ride home under a couple hundred pounds of oblivion.
The poor thing was not quite finished, but all the kings horses and all the kings men …
I had pretty much forgotten about the incident until a few days later when I was washing the white canvas pants that I had been wearing that morning and found a fairly detailed, shroud-of-Turin-like stain below the left rear pocket.
This was an arthropod whose life ended prematurely.
Denny Schreffler

Walkingstick crushed during a car ride

Hi again Denny,
Thanks so much for sharing this poignant tragedy.  It reminds us of a letter we received several years ago from a person who inadvertently stepped on a pair of mating Oil Beetles.  We believe this might be Diapheromera covilleae, the Creosote Bush Walkingstick or Greasewood Walkingstick based on images posted to BugGuide.

spiny caterpillar
February 22, 2010
found this caterpillar on milkweed last summer in northern illinois forest preserve. Can you please identify it
Illinois, USA

Milkweed Tussock Moth Caterpillars

Dear renu,
These are Milkweed Tussock Moth Caterpillars, Euchaetes egle.  You may find more information on BugGuide.