From the monthly archives: "September 2010"

Help! WTF is this bug, and why did I find it on my HEAD!
Location:  Connecticut
September 27, 2010 10:22 am
Hello, for the past 2 days I’ve been paranoid about ticks. I shot my first deer on Thursday, and while skinning it a tick jumped off and landed in my hair. I felt it moving and had a friend pull it off. Today is Monday morning, and after 3 sleepless nights, i come into work on Monday Morning and feel a little itch on the back of my neck. I scratch, but feel the itch a little to the left a few minutes later. I feel something moving between my back hair line and the backside of my ear! I pull off this little guy. I have no idea what it is. I’ve look at all the tick, spider, mite, and bedbug charts but cant seem to find anything that matches. As you can see in the picture it appears to have 4 legs in the rear, and 2 forward legs with a semi-pointed abdomen. It’s about 1/2 a CM in width & Length. Can you please help me identify this thing? I HOPE TO GOD this is just just a normal bug that found it’s way into my clothes last night (Laid them over a travel bag on the floor last night) or my car, etc. THANKS!!!
Signature:  Andrew

Louse Fly

Hi Andrew,
This is a Louse Fly in the family Hippoboscidae.  Louse Flies are true flies that are capable of flying feebly.  They feed on blood of warm blooded animals, and many are relatively host specific, but they are opportunistic and will feed upon a substitute species if the primary host is unavailable.  Louse Flies that feed on sheep are known as Sheep Keds and there is a species found in North America,
Lipoptena mazamae, that is commonly called the Neotropical Deer Ked.  According to BugGuide:  “This fly is a common obligate ectoparasite of New World deer. It has been collected on white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) from the southeastern United States to Brazil (Bequaert 1942) and other deer species in the tropics.”  BugGuide indicates the range to be:  “Southeastern United States north at least to Virginia and west to Oklahoma and Texas. South to northern Argentina.”  Just because there are no reports on BugGuide of Neotropical Deer Keds from Connecticut does not mean the Louse Fly you found is a different species.  BugGuide also has this fascinating information on the life cycle of the Neotropical Deer Ked:  “Deer keds have a very interesting reproductive strategy. The female produces one larva at a time and retains the developing larva in her body until it is ready to pupate. The larva feeds on the secretions of a “milk gland” in the uterus of its mother. After three larval instars, the larva has reached its maximum size, the mother gives birth to the white pre-pupa which immediately begins to darken and form the puparium or pupal shell. The pupa falls from the deer and is usually deposited where the deer bedded. When the fly has completed its metamorphosis, the winged adult emerges from the puparium and flies in search of a host. After finding a host the adult fly breaks off its wings and is now permanently associated with that one deer. Both sexes feed on the blood of the host deer. They can live on a deer for up to 6 months.

Wow thanks for the quick response. So it is deer related, and it has been in my hair… oh boy. Do you know if should I used some sort of special shampoo to ensure there are no more, or to kill any of that interesting larvae you mentioned?  Since this appears to be in the early – non reproductive stages, do I even need to worry about larva being in my hair?

Since we are not experts, we generally refrain from giving health advice and we suggest that concerned individuals visit a doctor or clinic.

Can you identify this beauty?
Location:  Ontario, Canada
September 27, 2010 8:44 am
On a family trip to Killbear Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada, my daughter discovered this unique caterpillar. Not sure if it helps but it was mid June when it was found. Any chance you know what it is?? Hoping to hear back as the curiosity is driving me crazy!
Signature:  Michelle

Gypsy Caterpillar

Hi Michelle,
We spent considerable time browsing through the possibilities in the Moth superfamily Noctuoidea on BugGuide to no avail.  We are going to request assistance from our readership with this identification.

Thank you for your help Daniel. Here is hoping someone can solve this mystery!

Update from Michelle
September 29, 2010
Hi Daniel,
Unfortunately no one has posted a response, so I have been looking into the identification of the “Canadian caterpillar” in question on my own. After extensive research it appears that it is a gypsy moth larvae. I hear they are very destructive pests but they are truly beautiful in my opinion!

Thanks for getting back to us Michelle,
Now we feel really silly because we should have gotten this one right.  Your caterpillar is a perfect visual match to a Gypsy Moth Caterpillar posted to BugGuide.  Not only is the Gypsy Moth destructive, it is an Invasive Exotic species that was introduced from Europe.  Here is the account of the Gypsy Moth introduction according to BugGuide:  “Etienne Leopold Trouvelot, an amateur entomologist, brought Gypsy Moths into the United States to see if they could be successfully reared for silk culture. Around 1869 some of Trouvelot’s charges escaped from his home near Boston. Realizing the potential magnitude of the problem, he reported the escape but no action was taken until the infestation grew serious several years later. Trouvelot later became interested in astronomy and astronomical illustration, and eventually became a Harvard professor of Astronomy.

Spider in Germany, Deployed Husband OH MY!
Location:  Southwestern Germany
September 26, 2010 2:57 pm
Hello! I am coming across these fabulous creatures almost daily in my home and can’t take much more. My husband is currently deployed and I can only handle so much. We are currently stationed in Germany, and while I love it here, I can’t take these guys greeting me when I first wake up. Plus, my son and I have been experiencing bites on our face and arms, and can’t help but wonder if these guys have something to do with it? Some are as big as my palm!
Please help so I can make it through the last 6 weeks of this 6 month deployment. I appreciate your help!
Signature:  Scared Military Spouse in Europe

Grass Spider

Dear Scared Military Spouse,
WE do not recognize your Spider, but in the interest of providing you with some information, we are posting your letter with the image of an unidentified Spider in the hopes that our readership will be able to come to your assistance.

Karl bails us out again: Unknown Spider from Germany – September 26, 2010
Hi Daniel:
I think this is probably a Funnel Weaving or Grass Spider (Agelenidae) in the genus Tegenaria. A family characteristic is eight eyes, in two rows of four, and I think I can just make out the top row in the photo. The common English names in northern Europe for spiders in this genus include House, Giant House, Common House and Domestic Spider (and probably more). There are at least 12 representatives in that part of Europe and they look too similar to me to make a call, but I think it may be either T. atrica or T. domestica. The infamous Hobo Spider of western North America is in the same genus (T. agrestis), and is actually an accidental introduction from Europe. Although they are all venomous, other than the Hobo Spider they don’t appear to have a reputation for biting humans (they do frighten them, however). The really long legged ones are males and they are the ones that are commonly seen wandering around homes in the fall in search of females. Regards.  Karl

Karl is my hero! Danke!
I’d like to send some German Spider-Free Chocolate as a thank you. May I please have your mailing address?
Vielen Dank,
Anna Roser

Connecticut caterpillars
Location:  Tunxis State Forest, Connecticut
September 26, 2010 9:56 pm
We saw three different types of caterpillars today. I guess the first two are tussock moths? I have no idea about the ones in the third picture!
Signature:  Aine

Sawfly Larvae

Hi Aine,
Your third image of caterpillars are actually impostors.  They are the larvae of Sawflies, nonstinging relatives of bees and wasps.  By comparing your photo to images posted to BugGuide, we believe they may be Birch Sawfly Larvae,
Arge pectoralis.

I tried using the Discover Life caterpillar guide, but couldn’t find anything like them – now I know why! They were devouring a birch leaf, so that sounds pretty definite. Thanks!

What IS This?? Snail-Like Head On Insect
Location:  Adams County, Ohio
September 26, 2010 6:50 pm
Hello! My fiance recently brought this bug back (alive) in a pill bottle from Adams County Ohio. We have no idea what it is, nor does anyone else we have asked. It has a snail-like head that goes back inside the body when the insect is at rest or threatened and the tail seems to help it walk by pushing it along. It is approximately one inch long and, though it looks to have a hard body, it is quite soft.
More images here:
Signature:  Charlotte Walker

Firefly Larva

Hi Charlotte,
This is a beetle larva and there are two different possibilities as to its identity.  We are favoring the larva of a Firefly, and that retractable head is used to feed upon snails and slugs.  The other less likely possibility is that it is the larva of a Netwing Beetle, in which case it would feed upon fungus rather than snails.

What is this bug
Location:  Akron, Ohio
September 26, 2010 8:47 pm
Any idea what this vibrant orange bug is. I was amazed at the different stages of life on one pod.
Signature:  Becki Caputo

Large Milkweed Bug Nymphs

Hi Becki,
There are two common species of Seed Bugs in the family Lygaeidae that feed upon the juices from the seeds of milkweed, and we believe your immature nymphs are Large Milkweed Bugs,
Oncopeltus fasciatus based on comparing images of both species on BugGuide. Large Milkweed Bugs often form aggregations of numerous individuals while feeding, and you image shows two immature stages.  Adults have fully developed wings and they are able to fly.