From the monthly archives: "May 2010"

Large Black Articulated Bug
May 30, 2010
This was found digging in some sandy soil on the St. Mary’s River floodplain. There appeared to be another one in the hole beneath it. It was close to an inch long.
Waternish, Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, Canada

OIl Beetle

Dear Ideaphore,
This large Blister Beetle in the genus Meloe is commonly called an Oil Beetle.

Yellow beetle
May 30, 2010
Hoping you can help me identify this bug.
half hour north of the Twin Cities

Goldsmith Beetle

Dear Nathan,
We believe the Goldsmith Beetle, Cotalpa lanigera, may the loveliest North American beetle.  As a family, we love the Blister Beetles, and the Stag Beetle is quite noble, but for shear beauty, we believe the Goldsmith Beetle takes the cake.  There is much speculation that the Goldsmith Beetle is the Gold Bug of Edgar Allen Poe fame.  You may read more about the Goldsmith Beetle on BugGuide.

Goldsmith Beetle

Caterpillar found by oak tree
May 30, 2010
The of this caterpillar I took when I found it on my drivway which has large oaks on either side of it. I can not find its piture in any of my insect books.
Bill L.
Kennebunk, ME

Ilia Underwing Caterpillar

Dear Bill,
We do believe we matched your caterpillar to an Ilia Underwing, Catocala ilia, on Bugguide.  It too was found on Oak.  BugGuide indicates:  “very occasionally spectacular lichen mimics are encountered.”
Your caterpillar is one of the lichen mimics.  The species is also known as The Wife or The Beloved Underwing.

Dear Daniel, Thanks so much for your answer. I have never seen such perfect camouflage.

30 May 2010
Last week I postponed the trimming of the carob tree because of a Hummingbird.  The female Hummingbird (I’m not sure what species because all Hummingbird females look similar)
built a walnut sized nest at the tip of a carob tree branch overhanging Killarney Avenue.

Hummingbird and Nest

Then she abandoned the nest, or did she?  I know hummingbirds have complex mating rituals where males high dive and stop creating a whistling sound in the tail feathers.  The hummingbird nest is composed of spider webs and lined with feathers.  I wonder if Anna’s Hummingbird has a symbiotic relationship with any spider species?  The female Anna’s Hummingbird may be the realtor in the family.  She finds the best territory near a food source and defends her nest and territory against all other females.  She may choose her mate based on how fast he flies and how loud he whistles his tail feathers.

Hummingbird on Nest

I’ve never seen a moth like this
May 30, 2010
I found it this morning hanging out on our front porch light in Memphis, TN. It was very small – less than an inch. Ever seen one like this?
Memphis, TN

Boxwood Leaftier Moth

Hi Tim,
This sure is a crazy looking moth, and we do not know what it is.  Microlepidoptera always give us a hard time.  We will post this as a mystery announcement and hopefully we will get some assistance.

Boxwood Leaftier Moth

Thanks.  Someone on BugGuide just identified it as Galasa nigrinodis – Boxwood Leaftier Moth.

Update:  Moth Identified
May 31, 2010
Bugophile sent us a comment yesterday identifying this creature as a Boxwood Leaftier Moth, Galasa nigrinodis, and we found matching images on BugGuide “Larvae “tie together and eat dead leaves of boxwood.” (1) Boxwood is Buxus, apparently not native to North America. B. sempervirens is called “American Boxwood”, likely due to its longstanding popularity in cultivation. The moth appears to be native to North America–it is unclear what the native hostplants might be, perhaps other genera in the family Buxaceae. Allegheny Spurge, Pachysandra procumbens is one such native plant, but no information can be found on its possible hostplant status.

Polyphemus Moth ?
May 28, 2010
Many, many thanks for the prompt reply and posting of my “Beautiful Green Bug” (Slant-winged Katydid). Your website is fantastic and your love of all our “critters” is evident. It is refreshing to have the privilege of communicating with individuals, such as yourselves. I’m going to send a donation for your site, next week, when my retirement check comes in. I’m sending you two more pictures of a moth. Pictures were taken on my shed door the end of April 2010, during the evening. This guy was beautiful but did not move much. He was quite hign on the door which necessitated me to use the zoom on my camera. One picture is with flash and one without — take your pick. After the pictures, I left him alone and later on in the evening he departe d. I believe him to be a Polyphemus silk moth of the Saturniidae family — please correct me if I’m wrong. Again, I’m thrilled to have found your site and humbled by your obvious love of nature and efforts to preserve “Her.” Many, many thanks.
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Black Witch

Hi Again Curt,
Thanks so much for your kind words, and you are under no obligation to contribute a donation, especially if you are on a fixed income.  Donations are no guarantee that we will respond to questions.  Mostly it is a matter of luck which letters we answer and post, but we do try to find unusual creatures, wonderful photos, or interesting letters in an effort to keep What’s That Bug? vital.  This is a Black Witch, Ascalapha odorata, a tropical and subtropical species that is common in Mexico.  The Black Witch is a very powerful flier, and there are documentations going back 100 years of sightings as far north as Canada.  In recent years, perhaps due to global warming, or perhaps due to the cultivation of its food plant the acacia, the Black Witch has begun to breed in southern states.  Your specimen is a female because of the presence of the pale wing bands.  Your sighting came at an unusual time.  According to BugGuide:  “The northward migration out of Mexico is triggered by Mexico’s rainy season which typically starts in early June and lasts through October. Most US records are from June-August, with a considerable number of records from September-Novermber. Very few US records from December-May.