From the monthly archives: "October 2010"

I have never seen a bug like this.
Location: Burbank, CA
October 31, 2010 1:02 am
It was about 9pm at night and we looked out the back patio door and saw this guy. He was huge in the dark! It is Oct 30th and we are in the Verdugo Hills in Burbank – Right up against the mountain. What is this? I thought some sort of queen bee or something. There was a group of us an no one ever saw anything like it . He disappeared as quickly as he came.
Thanks for any info –
Signature: Dave

Giant wingless bee
Location: Burbank, southern Ca
October 31, 2010 1:32 am
I just posted a picture from Burbank CA and it appears like a giant wingless bee – I forgot to mention that it was about 1.5 to 2 inches.
Signature: Dave

Potato Bug

Hi Dave,
This is a Potato Bug or Jerusalem Cricket, and it is probably one of our top 10 identification requests, especially from Southern California.

giant cricket like bug?
Location: sydney australia, garden apt.
October 31, 2010 8:43 am
i was hoping you could ID this bug for me. it was about 3 inches long with maybe 7 inch antennae. it’s body was thick and mobile, curling it’s pelvis under and then out again.
Signature: thank you!

Winged Weta

Though your image is blurry and not the best quality, we were of the opinion that it represents a Winged Weta, but alas, we were having problems locating any information on Winged Wetas, also known as King Crickets.  We did find an online reference to the New Zealand Entomologist 26:  75-77 (December 2003) with an article entitled A winged weta, Pterapotrechus (Orthoptera:  Gryllacrididae), established in New Zealand. It is described as “a golden-brown insect.  Adults are 30 mm to 37 mm long, with enlarged hind legs, the males often being larger than the females.  It has long filamentous antennae; rows of large spines on the fore-tibiae, and adults of both sexes are fully winged.  Adult females have a 15 mm long slender curved swordlike ovipositor.  The forewings are soft and pliable, and wrap around the body behind the pronotum.  they extend a little beyond the tip of the abdomen.”  The included image is of a female, and since your specimen does not appear to possess an ovipositor, it must be a male.  Wikimedia Commons also has an image of a female Winged Weta.

You guys are amazing!! I am an instant fan and SO grateful for your ID.
Many many thanks!!!

hi Daniel,
I just looked up what 37mm is in inches and this makes me think we don’t actually have a winged weta. our bug was at least 2.5 inches, i think more like 3 (63 – 70mm). making ours twice the size. and again, the antennae were at least 6 inches, but really more like 8. ridiculously long…i’m sorry the picture isn’t better!
there was no ovipositor but there seemed to be a something like a prong at the end of the body.
lastly, the wings looked almost moist. sort of papery and wrinkled.
could our bug be a baby? meaning, could that be why it’s hard to find, because it will soon look different from what it is now?

Your bug is not a baby.  We are inclined to think several things regarding the size discrepancy.  First, official sizes probably represent an average, not the extremes.  Second, the species in Australia may be different, but we still believe it is a Winged Weta.  Third, people often think the bugs they see are much larger than they actually are.

Is this related to your October 2010 Bug of the Month?
Location: Wilmington, MA
October 30, 2010 8:56 pm
I have seen about dozen of these bugs around my home in the past couple months. I live in Wilmington, MA. I’ve never seen anything like this before. There was a good lull between the last one I saw and the one today. I was losing hope because I would love to have this identified. This bug doesn’t stink, that I’m aware of, though we do have a dog and two cats, so I may just be blaming a stink in the house on them! This bug is slow crawling, almost like it thinks I won’t see it if it doesn’t move/moves slowly. But once I caught it, it moved much quicker. Also, one of the bugs about a month ago did fly, which scared the bejesus out of me because I wasn’t expecting it! I hope I’m not rambling too much and provided enough information! Thanks for your help!!
Signature: Christine L

Western Conifer Seed Bug

Dear Christine,
You have provided a photo of a Western Conifer Seed Bug, one of the Leaf Footed Bugs in the family Coreidae.  The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is in the family Pentatomidae, but both families are considered True Bugs in the suborder Heteroptera.  Like Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs, the Western Conifer Seed Bugs will enter homes to hibernate as the cooler weather arrives.  They will not harm you, your pets or your home.  They just want to come in out of the cold.  The Western Conifer Seed Bug is native to the Pacific Northwest, but beginning in the 1960s, there was a significant range expansion that now includes much of Eastern North America.  It is unclear if this was a natural range expansion, or if there was human intervention, or if it can be attributed to global warming.  In the early twenty first century, reports began to arrive that the species was becoming established in Northern Europe.

Location: South Africa, Gauteng
October 30, 2010 6:07 pm
Found this in a big tree with yellow flowers. They have been there for the last 3 weeks and did not change in that time
Signature: Annelise

Rain-Tree Bug nymphs

Dear Annalise,
We wish you had provided additional information.  We would really love to know the size of these creatures and the identity of the plant species might also prove very helpful.  The closest we have seen to anything like this are the Spittlebugs in the family Cercopidae.  Here is an image from BugGuide.  There are many North American species and they are small insects.  The immature nymphs form a mass of spittle that they use for protection, and they are occasionally found in groupings with their siblings.  Spittlebugs feed on the fluids from the plants which they extract with their sucking mouthparts.  According to BugGuide:  “nymphs surround themselves with a frothy mass that resembles spittle
” and “The ‘spittle’ is derived from a fluid voided from the anus and from a mucilaginous substance excreted by epidermal glands.”  Based on this information, we will attempt to provide you with a species identification, but we would appreciate any additional information you are able to provide to us.  We are not certain if there are other Free-Living Hemipterans in the suborder Auchenorrhyncha that exhibit a similar habit with the immature phase, but that is also a possibility.

Immediate Update: Moments after posting, we did a search of Spittlebugs South Africa and we found the Fieldguide to Insects of South Africa Google books by Mike Picker, Charles Griffiths and Alan Weaving which includes the following description of the Rain-Tree Bug or Tipuana Spittle Bug, Ptyelus grossus:  “Identification: Large (wingspan 30-35 mm), with slate grey wings, marked with 2 large cream and orange spots and smaller cream dots.  Nymphs (4A) black with fine cream hieroglyphic-type markings and central orange stripe.  Biology: Well known for the phenomenon of ‘rain-trees’, produced by the constant dripping of processed tree sap through the bodies of clusters of nymphs and adults.”  The Google Book also contains an image of a solitary nymph outside of the spittle mass.  Wikipedia Commons has a matching image of the nymphs.  We are unable to locate any additional information on this species.

Update October 19, 2015
In researching a new comment, we did more research and we learned this on the Flora of Zimbabwe site:  “The spittle bug, Ptyelus grossus, is common in Zimbabwe and occurs in large numbers on the rain tree Philenoptera violacea but are also found on other trees like Tipuana tipu and Rauvolfia caffra. The spittle bug feeds on the sap of the plant by piercing the bark of the tree with their stylets (sucking mouthparts) and sucking the sap at great speed. The plant sap is a weak solution of sugars and salts and the insect has to consume a great deal in order to obtain sufficient nourishment, so they eject almost pure water equally fast. This drips from the tree in sufficient quantities to form pools on the ground below and infested trees have acquired the name ‘rain tree’.”

Is this a type of Puss Moth?
Location: Central Florida
October 29, 2010 9:10 pm
This gorgeous little guy was on the door post of our garage on October 8. We live in Central Florida. I’m not sure what type of moth it is, but the hairy legs made me wonder if it’s a puss moth? Thanks for any help you can provide!
Signature: Pamela

Pearly Wood Nymph

Hi Pamela,
Your moth is a Pearly Wood Nymph,
Eudryas unio, and people often write in to us requesting the identification of the bird poop moth because it really does seem to resemble bird droppings.

What is this??
Location: Idaho
October 29, 2010 11:18 pm
I am curious? =] Please help!
Signature: DR

Banded Alder Borer

Dear DR,
This beautiful beetle is commonly called the Banded Alder Borer, though in California it is known as the California Laurel Borer.