From the monthly archives: "September 2010"

Odd bug on my Lantana Camara plant
Location:  Arlington, VA / Washington, DC
September 25, 2010 3:49 pm
My Lantana Camara plant has been getting some brown spots recently. I live in the Washington, DC / Arlington Virginia area, and purchased it at a local Home Depot. It has been doing very well for months for now.
Until the visitor.
I don’t know who he is. I’ve seen up to three of them at a top. They are a little bigger than my thumbnail, and can fly, although they usually crawl. Once I spied one nestled near some of the berries on top, perhaps sucking nectar from them.
I know just enough about gardening to know about good bugs and bad bugs. I’ve been flicking them away from my plant for a week now, assuming them to be of the devilish variety, but I wish to know more about my erstwhile foe. So, can you tell me what kind of bug this is?
Signature:  Clueless in Arlington

Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs

Dear Clueless,
We just provided you with a quick response, but we also had two additional requests for the identification of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug,
Halyomorpha halys, an introduced invasive exotic species that often enters homes when cold weather sets in.  Since it appears they may be multiplying in numbers, we suspect that come October, identification requests may increase, so we decided to feature the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug as the Bug of the Month for October 2010 and to use your letter and photos as the posting.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

Brown marmorated stink bugs
September 25, 2010 12:47 pm
A friend of mine, knowing that I’m into entomophagy, has offered me a bunch of the brown marmorated stink bugs that are all over Maryland these days.  I know that the green ones are eaten, and relished, in Mexico; is  there any reason these brown ones wouldn’t be equally edible?
Signature: Beatrix Whitehall

Hi Beatrix,
We are forwarding you letter to our contributing expert in entomophagy, David Gracer, in the hopes he can provide a response before we post the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug as the bug of the month for October.  We will be adding your letter to that posting.

David Gracer agrees to investigate the Edibility of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
September 26, 2010
Hello Daniel and Beatrix,
This is part one of my response.  I don’t know of any documentation confirming this species as an edible, though yeah, the other Pentatomids considered delectable appear to be quite similar.  I might try one on speculation just to see what it was like on the palate, but I’d shy away from a meal of them and obviously cannot recommend to others as of yet.
I’m currently visiting Athens GA; UGA held their annual Insectival yesterday (at the gorgeous State Botanical Gardens).  I’ll be addressing the entomology department tomorrow afternoon, and I’ll share this anecdote and challenge the students to investigate the matter.  After all, with such great bounty heaped upon homeowners each fall, it would be useful to be able to make good use of them for a change.  Maybe something will turn up.

Thanks Dave,
We eagerly await your response.

Here’s part two: my mention of culinary possibilities of the BMSB prompted barely-perceptible changes of facial expressions during my visit.  I suspect that the extreme abundance of conventional food sources leads to a dearth of academic research into the identification of consumable insect species.  I remain interested in the idea, though, and I’d probably try this species if someone will send me some.

Type of Moth
Location:  Independence, MO
September 29, 2010 1:04 pm
This moth appeared on our back porch yesterday and we have never seen anything that big before. The wings measure 5 1/2 inches from tip to tip. What type of moth is this?
Signature:  Angie Poe

Black Witch

Hi Angie,
This is a female Black Witch and your sighting is unusual because the Black Witch is a neotropical species that is found in Mexico, and does not breed in the U.S. except near the southern border.  For over 100 years, there has been documentation of the fall migration of Black Witches north, as far away as Canada, but the reason for these migrations is unclear as the moths will not survive the winter, cannot mate without their food plants, and do not return.

Praying Mantis?
Location:  3700 foot elevation in the northern Sierra’s
September 29, 2010 10:09 pm
I found this guy cruising around my yard. It looks like a praying mantis but I have seen those here and they are green. This one looks kinda camo color. Your help to identify this creature would be appreciated.
Signature:  GB

California Mantis

Dear GB,
This is indeed a Mantis.  We believe it is
Stagomantis californica, the California Mantis, a native species that can be green or brown.  Some tropical Mantids can even come in colors like yellow and pink.

Happy house centipede with fast food
Location:  Carroll County Maryland
September 29, 2010 9:50 pm
This site is one of the best on the web! I’ve used it many times for myself, and helped to educate my young daughters (and ok, my wife) on some amazing bugs. Thanks for all your work.
Just wanted to submit this beautiful house centipede enjoying a meal, helping us rid our garage of crickets. (It’s a big one – this is September, so that’s not a baby cricket!) I’ve seen many pics of them on your site, but none having lunch – as proof to the frightened humans out there of their beneficial ways!
I’m no bugman, but I do think these are amazing.
Signature:  Barry in Maryland

House Centipede Eats Cricket

Hi Barry,
Thanks so much for the compliment.  Though we have countless images of House Centipedes on our website and we always extoll their status as harmless and beneficial hunters, we don’t have many images of them eating.  House Centipedes are fast and they are adept hunters, and though they frequently become Unnecessary Carnage, we always advise our readership to allow them to live in the home so that they can hunt cockroaches and other undesirable intruders.  Thanks for your submission.

Yes, the centipedes are quick- but I actually get this sense that they are smart.  Aside from the neural power it must take for something with 15 pairs of legs to move with that speed, they don’t seem just reactionary.
For a sense of intelligence, I put them right up there in my mind behind praying mantids, jumping spiders, and wolf spiders…just something a little more going on in there!  Doesn’t mean my wife doesn’t shriek a little…!
On a side note, I wanted to thank you for making me look smart on identifying some unusual bugs in the past:  An Eyed Elater that once landed on my leg up on the bluffs overlooking Harper’s Ferry, WV; a huge Dobsonfly I found on my truck hood last year; and the awesome Wheel (Assassin) Bug a few years back – we had a ton of them outside the house, they must have hatched from a nest in our yard somewhere, as I’ve only ever seen one or two since.
With regard to the Wheel Bug, in the Fall that year we capture a giant and pregnant orb weaver, and also a Wheel Bug and pitted them against each other in a bug container we have.  The kids and I watched a fascinating match that was a standoff with the bug as the aggressor (I don’t think we’d have actually allowed carnage), and we eventually released both.
As a bugman, thought you might enjoy that story!  I’m not a bug lover, but I do like to learn about and respect nature, and teach my kids to as well.  Your site really helps with that.

What kind of BEETLE is this???
Location:  New Brunswick, Canada
September 30, 2010 7:26 am
This BEETLE was found behind a Military Building at BASE GAGETOWN in New Brunswick, Canada. No one could indentify this fellow, except to say that it may be a Beetle from the STAG Family?? Can you help us identify our ”little” Friend?? He only stayed long enough for me to get his picture, then he was off to the races…
Signature:  Terry


Hi Terry,
Identification requests for Toe-Biters or Giant Water Bugs are pouring in from Canada.  Conditions must be right for flight as these aquatic insects spend most of their time under water hunting for prey.  Because they are attracted to lights, they are also known as Electric Light Bugs.

Insect to be identified
Location:  Mumbai, India
September 30, 2010 1:43 am
I just caught these insects mating (I guess) I am unable to identify these insects. I have uploaded couple of pictures which would help.
Thank you and Reagrds
Signature:  Mahesh F. Pardesi

Crane Flies Mating

Dear Mahesh,
Your photos of mating Crane Flies in the family Tipulidae are stunning.  This is a beautiful pair of insects.  The male has the feathery antennae.  We don’t know how much species information we would be able to find for Asian species, so we are going to contact an expert in the family for assistance.  We generally search the Crane Flies of Pennsylvania for North American species, and Dr. Chen Young of Carnegie Museum of Natural History assists us when we have problems.  Hopefully he will be able to provide a species name for us.

Mating Crane Flies

Dear Daniel,
Thank you for taking out time and replying my mail.
Atleast I know now that these are Crane Fly.
Would be eager to know the Species.
Thank You again.
Mahesh F. Pardesi

Karl Unearths the Answer
Hi Daniel and Mahesh
These crane flies are so lovely that I couldn’t resist looking for more information. The species appears to be Pselliophora laeta (Tipulidae: Ctenophorinae). I could find only the one photo online but I did also find a matching illustration in a very old paper titled “Dipteres Exotiques Nouveaux” by M.J. Macquart (1837). It was presented under an older synonym, Ctenophora laeta. The wing pattern is very distinctive. According to Oosterbroek et al. (2006) the Ctenophorinae are all more or less spectacular and many resemble ichneumons or wasps. The comb-like antennae of the males are also distinctive. Ctenophorinae larvae all develop in decaying wood of deciduous trees and usually require old forest or orchard habitat. The genus Pselliophora is predominantly oriental in distribution and includes nearly a hundred species (so it is possible that these belong to a related and similar species). Regards. Karl

Dr. Chen Young responds
October 6, 2010
Hi Daniel,
I sent the following message on 30 of September but was rejected due to your mailbox was full.  I am forwarding it again and hope you will get it this time.

September 30, 2010
Dear Daniel,
Thanks for the image and I am so glad to see the mating pair.  As you may know by now that I am out of the museum and doing field research in Asia and your image really made my day since I have just seen one species of crane fly in the same group as the iamge you sent.
The crane fly of your image belong to Ctenophora (Pselliophora) group.  I dont know the species for sure but I will look into it after I return to the museum where I will have references that I can check into.  I am attaching one image of the one from Taiwan for your reference and you can also see the similarity they share.  I schedule to return on the 22 of October and I will contact you soon after.

Mating Crane Flies from Taiwan

Thanks so much Chen,
We really appreciate you taking the time to resend this email while you are in the field.  We are pleased to include your image of a mating related pair from Taiwan with the original posting.

Dear Daniel,
Thank you for the wonderful explanations forwarded by you Daniel. Still curious to know the species name.
Warm Regards,
Mahesh F. Pardesi