From the monthly archives: "October 2010"

What is this bug?
Subject: What is this bug?
Location: Fort Bliss, Texas
October 30, 2010 8:07 am
Found crawling on my brothers leg at fort bliss in Texas….
Signature: Jessica

Blister Beetle

Hi Jessica,
This is a Blister Beetle in the genus
Megetra, a group that is “Restricted to Chihuahuan Desert of the USA (TX, NM, and extreme southeastern AZ) and Mexico (where most of this desert region is located)” according to BugGuide.  You were wise to handle this Blister Beetle with gloves because the family is capable of exuding hemolymph that contains cantharidin, a chemical compound that can cause blistering of the skin.

The Armored Assassin

Jagged Ambush Bug

The Armored Assassin
Location: Mid-Missouri
October 29, 2010 9:34 pm
While I love all bugs, I think one of my favorite has to be the Ambush Bug. It is just a armored shell of terror. He sits hidden inside or behind a flower bloom waiting for his prey to land for their last sip of nectar. He emits a type of authority and force like I rarely see in the insect world. Sure, all Assassin Bugs are made up of terror to other insects, but to me, none give that incredible look of strength in the same way as the Ambush Bug. For me, this is as good as it gets and I feel fortunate to have had about half a dozen sightings of them this year..many times with prey in hand.
Here are 3 of my favorite pictures from the past couple months of my favorite assassin bug….if not my favorite bug, period.
My ID: Jagged Ambush Bug – Phymata fasciata (I’m certain on Phymata, fairly certain on Phymata fasciata).
Signature: Nathanael Siders

Ambush Bug feeds on Skipper

Hi Nathanael,
Thanks again for submitting some wonderful images as well as your first hand observations.  Ambush Bugs were originally classified in their own family, but recent years have seen a change in the taxonomy, and they are now a subfamily of the Assassin Bugs.  We agree that this is a Jagged Ambush Bug in the genus
Phymata, though we do not feel qualified enough to determine the exact species as the members of the genus are all quite similar.  Can you recall the identity of the prey in your one photo?  It appears to be a Skipper butterfly.

Jagged Ambush Bug

You are correct, it was a skipper that became his meal.  I have also seen them eating syrphids a good bit around my house.

Cyprus Arachnid
Location: Latchi, Cyprus
October 29, 2010 3:54 am
I sent you a photo of a spider a couple of days ago but have since been given two more of the same one which I think would greatly help you in identifying our ’illegal immigrant’. We are just very sceptical over this spider being native to this Island. He was about 5-6cm large. Any Idea which species it is and where it originally comes from? We’re all a little stumped! Thank you! 🙂
Signature: Alex P

Wolf Spider from Cyprus

Hi Alex,
Because your photos included a head on view of this spider, we are able to determine that it is a Wolf Spider in the family Lycosidae based on the arrangement of the eyes.  You can verify our findings on BugGuide.  Wolf Spiders might bite if they are carelessly handled, but the bite of a Wolf Spider is not considered to be dangerous.  We are uncertain of the species, but we suspect this is a local species for you.

Wolf Spider from Cyprus

Christmas Tree Caterpillar
Location: Mulu National Park, Sarawak, Malasia (Borneo)
October 29, 2010 5:59 am
I found this caterpillar in Mulu National Park, Sarawak, Malasia. Do you know the name??
Signature: With regards, Steven Gehner

Archduke Caterpillar

Dear Steven,
We are posting your awesome image without doing any research as time does not permit it at the moment.  We believe this is a Stinging Caterpillar in the Slug Moth family Limacodidae, but there are also some unusual looking stinging caterpillars in the family Saturniidae and we would not rule out that possibility.

Correction Courtesy of Karl
Hi Daniel and Steven:
It certainly looks like a Limacodid moth caterpillar but it is actually a butterfly in the family Nymphalidae. It reminds me of the Baron (Euthalia sp.) from India posted previously on WTB. This one, however, is in the genus Lexias, probably L. pardalis. It also has a royal common name, the Archduke. There are at least nine other species of Lexias on Borneo, most of which I couldn’t find caterpillar pictures for, but I think this one looks close enough to L. pardalis to call it. Apparently this caterpillar’s menacing appearance is all a bluff – it is perfectly harmless. Regards.  Karl

Thanks Karl,
It really does look identical to the Archduke Caterpillar,
Lexias pardalis dirteana, on the link you provided.

Keith Wolfe offers another possibility
Hi Steven and Daniel,
In the interest of scientific accuracy (regrettably, the Internet is full of potentially misleading, and downright wrong, caterpillar identifications that subsequent visitors take as valid and unwittingly perpetuate), please allow me to caution that it’s equally possible for this distinctive young butterfly to be Lexias dirtea, the so-called Black-tipped Archduke.  The two species have virtually identical adults and immatures, which I know firsthand having reared L. dirtea (coincidentally from Borneo) and a number of related taxa.
Best wishes,
Keith Wolfe

Acting Crabby!!

Crab Spider

Acting Crabby!!
Location: Mid-Missouri
October 28, 2010 9:36 am
I found this green crab spider in a section of my yard that has a lot of insect activity. I have no doubts that this crab ended up with a nice meal. When I noticed her she was being pretty active which made it difficult to get any good images, but she did stop for a few brief moments. There was one time when I got a little too close that she made a move for me (for my camera actually), but overall, she was more than accommodating at ME being the pest.
I’m not too sure on my ID. Looking at the guide, the closest I can find is Misumessus oblongus, but there are discrepancies in all of the guide images I see. Mainly, the guide shows the head portion to be a greenish color with an opaque/white abdomen whereas mine has a more clear/opaque head with a whitish abdomen.
(The third image, while not as artistically perfect, shows a much better view of the body)
Signature: Nathanael Siders

Crab Spider

Hi Nathanael,
Thanks for submitting your beautiful images of a Crab Spider in the family Thomisidae.  We agree that it sure does resemble the images of
Misumessus oblongus that are on BugGuide.  Crab Spiders like many other spiders can be highly variable in coloration and markings which probably aids in the survival of the species through adaptation to different environmental conditions.

Crab Spider

Crazy looking… beetle?
Location: Southern Illinois
October 28, 2010 8:17 pm
My sister took a picture of this insect that was sitting on her car this fall. She didn’t provide any details on its behavior or size. It’s certainly unlike any insect I’ve ever seen, and I can’t even pinpoint whether it’s a beetle or some other classification! Help me out please!
Signature: Erik S

Cicada Head

Dear Erik,
This is the third photo we have received in recent months of a Cicada Head and we would love to know what has been decapitating Cicadas.  We suspect birds have eaten the fatty portion of the insects body and left the head behind.