From the monthly archives: "May 2010"

Large water spider on dock
May 31, 2010
We see these big ones all summer long on the riverside docks. Can you tell what kind it is? i always try to save them, but occasionally family members will kill, claiming to have suffered awful bites. i don’t know, I was never bitten by one, so I wonder what they are….For size reference, it is sitting on a 2×6 board. Very fast, too. This one was doing something with it’s legs, so they look funny in some of the pics but it was unharmed 🙂
Fairfield, Maine, USA

Fishing Spider

Hi Frank,
Your spider is a Fishing Spider in the genus Dolomedes, probably Dolomedes scriptus based on images posted to BugGuide.  Fishing Spiders are perfectly harmless, though they might be capable of biting a person.  That is not something we have ever received a report about.  Fishing Spiders are generally found near water, and they are capable of running across the water’s surface and even diving beneath the water and remaining for short periods of time.  Some Fishing Spiders are able to catch small fish.

Grasshopper Identification
May 30, 2010
After a lot of useless search on the net, I’m going to post the picture of this grasshopper for identification. It’s commonly found in the months of August and September. Mainly feed on plant “Urochloa maxima” in family Poaceae.
Any help in identification will be highly appreciate.
Pakistan, NWFP

Pradka Grasshopper from Pakistan

Dear Birdy,
We need to research your beautiful Grasshopper.  Meanwhile, we will post the image in the hope that one of our readers is able to assist in the identification.

Karl provides an identification
June 1, 2010
Hi Daniel and Birdy:
I am almost certain that this lovely grasshopper belongs to the genus Heiroglyphus (Acrididae). The most characteristic feature of the genus is the 3 or 4 grooves (sulci) that run vertically along the sides of the pronotum, joining across the top. These sulci are usually but not always lined in black. I looked at several keys and the only species that has this particular arrangement of lined and unlined sulci is H. nigrorepletus. The black lines joining all sulci at the top and the first and third along the bottom are especially distinctive (the second sulci does not extend down along the sides). Several species have the blue tibia with white black-tipped spines, including H. nigrorepletus. The common name in India and Pakistan is the Phadka Grasshopper, and it is considered to be a pest where it occurs in agricultural areas (rice, sugar cane, hemp, maize and sorghum). It apparently swarms occasionally but this is not typical. There are very good descriptions and accounts in Kirby, 1914 (as H. bettoni) and Mason, 1973. The latter is particularly good and both can be downloaded as PDF files. I was able to find only one online image of what I believe is the same species (unfortunately no identification given) that shows a mating pair. Birdy, the one you posted looks like an immature late instar male. Your excellent photo was most helpful. Regards.  Karl

Horse Fly-esque?
May 30, 2010
I saw this thing back in our woods this morning crawling in the dirt. I went back in the afternoon with a camera and saw it siiting on this leaf. Got one photo before it flew. Searched and liken it to a horsefly, but have not seen any photos with the same color patterns. So, horse fly?
NE Ohio

Golden Backed Snipe Fly

Hi Tym,
This is a beautiful image of a Golden Backed Snipe Fly.

31, 2010
Hi Daniel
Here are two photos of dragonflies taken today. I noticed one has much more white, I have been wondering if one is male and the other female or are they two different species? Thanks You very much and have a wonderful day.
North Middle Tennessee

Male Common Whitetail

Dear Richard,
Both of your individuals are Common Whitetails, Plathemis lydia, and both are males.  The individual with the white abdomen is a mature male.  The other is immature.  According to BugGuide:  “Immature males have the same body pattern as females but the same wing pattern as mature males.
BugGuide also indicates: Females have a short, stout abdomen with several oblique dorsolateral white or pale yellow markings against a brown ground color; each wing has three black evenly-spaced blotches rather than the two uneven blotches on the wings of the male.  BugGuide has a nice image illustrating the difference between the male and female.  The species ranges throughout the contiguous United States and much of Canada.

Common Whitetail

Korean Mystery Caterpillar
May 31, 2010
Dear Bugman (men/women),
I’m a kindergarten teacher in Seoul, South Korea. My walk to work every morning takes me down a mountain (part of the range that drops down into Northern Seoul) and I make it a habit to photograph and (when possible) pick up interesting things for my students on the way. We already have a garden snail in a terrarium in our classroom and he’s been a great success. Just this morning (May 31st) I was walking down the hill as usual and nearly smushed something green. I stopped and found a caterpillar on the road. He’s – hang on, let me measure him – three centimeters long, a beautiful bright green, with a yellow-white lateral stripe on each side, and a white stripe down his back. He has tiny white spots all over except along the lateral lines, where the dots are white inside with a ring of black surrounding. He has a single posterior horn that looks more like a rose thorn than a long thin antler; the horn has white stripes running up to the tip (one following the dorsal st ripe and two on either side for a total of six). He’s got two legs under the horn, then a eight in the middle, and what seem to be six smaller ones under his face. He’s soft and velvety to the touch and completely harmless.
I sure hope that’s a detailed enough description for you. I’d like to keep him in the classroom throughout his metamorphosis if I possibly can, but first of all I have to figure out what kind of plants he likes to eat – so far he’s not been interested in the local greenery I’ve plucked (lilac leaves, leaves from the azaleas that are all over the place, some random other stuff). What IS this little guy? Is he going to do well in a terrarium? And by some miracle, do you know what he’d like to eat?
Thanks a bunch!
Miss Sandra and the Yellow Canary classroom
Bukan-san mountain region, Seoul, South Korea

Copper Underwing Caterpillar

Dear Miss Sandra,
First, we want to say that you sound like a wonderful teacher and that your class is fortunate that you have taken the initiative to teach your charges about the natural world.  Alas, we have struggled unsuccessfully to identify your Hornworm in the family Sphingidae in an effort to identify the food plant.  Hornworms are the caterpillars of Sphinx Moths or Hawkmoths.  They generally pupate underground, and it is possible that this caterpillar left its food plant to search for a good location to dig.  Providing some loose soil in the bottom of the terrariam may encourage him to dig underground to pupate.  Make sure the soil is not too wet nor too dry.  We have been searching the Sphingidae of the Eastern Palaearctic website, China section, in an attempt to identify the species, but China is a big country with many potential species.  Some moths pictured do not have images of caterpillars, and with some species, the life cycles and early stages are unknown.  Hopefully, one of our readers will be able to identify your species so that you can provide the necessary food.  The horn on your specimen is very unusual looking and should be able to provide a unique characteristic for identification purposes.

Copper Underwing Caterpillar

Correction thanks to Karl:  Underwing Caterpillar
June 1, 2010
Hi Daniel and Miss Sandra:
The unusual “horn” is actually more of a hump, and this caterpillar is an underwing moth (Noctuidae) not a hornworm (Sphingidae). It looks like a Copper Underwing (Amphipyra pyramidae) – other common names include Humped Green Fruitworm and Pyramidal Green Fruitworm. It’s a Palearctic species with a very wide distribution, including all of Europe and across central Eurasia to Korea and Japan, and the higher altitude regions of from North Africa to the northern Indian subcontinent. It appears to be present across North America as well but I suspect it has been introduced to that continent. There is an abundance of images on the internet (additional links below). A related species, A. perflua, has a similar distribution, including Korea, but I wasn’t able to find any images for comparison.

Dear Karl and Daniel,
Thank you so much for your information and assistance!  We had a great time in class looking at pictures of what our little friend will turn into.  We would have loved to watch his metamorphosis, but as we couldn’t entice him to enjoy any of our plant offerings, we let him go in our garden in the hopes that he would find his own way to something delicious.  You were all incredibly helpful – never have there been a group of five year olds so in love with bugs as my students, let me tell you.  I’ll be sure to take pictures of any copper underwings I run across!
Thanks again!

Unusual “Centipede”?
May 30, 2010
I went camping with a troupe of friends and relatives. My friend and I went out for a walk while the others stayed behind at the cabin – on our return they beckoned us over to a cup where they produced this monstrosity.
Apparently, while we were gone, this bug fell from above and into my mother’s hair. It is a miracle they rescued it alive – they are the type to kill nearly everything they come across – but I think perhaps it was its uniqueness that saved its life.
I’ve never seen anything like it and I’ve lived in the same house all of my life. There are a few theories going around, the main contender is that it may be some unidentified form of centipede. I had a glance through your centipede pages but it did not look like a single one of them.
It also seems to have a mouth meant to suck sap or juices from roots, so the second theory is that it may be a larvae stage for something… My friend who I went on a walk with had the chance to touch it after she released it.
She said that it quickly burrowed in the ground (supporting the ‘it drinks from roots…maybe..’ theory), and that when she touched it it felt like snake skin.
I did not get the chance to do so.
I apologize about the quality of the pictures I’m sending, the cup which they’d trapped the bug in was reflective and the room was dark – so I needed to use flash, unfortunately.
I included a coin (a penny) for comparative size in the third picture, though it may be a bit hard to see from over exposure. Please let us know what it is!
Kaden James
South-Eastern Connecticut, USA.


Hi Kaden,
Your mystery creature is a Hellgrammite, the larval form of the Dobsonfly.  Hellgrammites are aquatic, but they can survive on land, and they are predatory.