From the monthly archives: "October 2010"

Carnivorous insect!
Location:  North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii
October 3, 2010 12:32 am
I don’t have any pictures of the insect we’re looking for, so I’m attaching a picture of the cane spider. I’m sending a youtube video of some sort of insect attacking and then dragging away a poor defenseless cane spider! This video was taken on the island of oahu in hawaii. It seemed to have a large red bum perfect for stinging. My friend and I have googled and googled and we have no clue what kind of insect this is, or whether we should fear for our lives. Any response would be greatly appreciated!
Signature:  Kat

Cane Spider

Dear Kat,
First, the Spider Wasp in your photo is a nectar feeder that is not going to eat the spider she has paralyzed.  Spider Wasps are in the family Pompilidae (see bugGuide), which includes such species as the  Tarantula Hawks in the North American Southwest, and the beautifully colored Spider Wasps from Australia.  We found a photo on the University of Hawaii at Hilo website that sure looks like the Spider Wasp in your video, but alas, it is not identified as to the species.
We were not aware that the Cane Spider which we found on Instant Hawaii, is our old friend Heteropoda venatoria, the Huntsman Spider or Banana Spider, a Central American species that has spread around the world especially warm port cities, because it hitchhiked with banana shipment.

Glossy Red and black spider from Papua highlands
Location:  Tembagapura, Papua, Indonesia
October 2, 2010 10:08 pm
We see these small spiders with a red cephalothorax and upper half of legs and glossy black abdomen and lower half of legs around the house here in the highlands (2500 meters) in Papua, Indonesia. Any ideas what they are?
Signature:  Kevin

Red and Black Spider from Indonesia

Dear Kevin,
This is one awesome looking spider.  We want to GUESS that this might be a Cobweb Spider in the family Theridiidae, the same family that includes such black and red poisonous spiders as the Black Widow from North America and the Red Back Spider from Australia.  Red and Black are codified warning colors in the insect and bug* worlds, and that warning is generally poison.  We hope our readership will come to our rescue with the name of this begloved she-beauty.

* Ed. Note: Bugs are loosely defined as “Thing That Crawl” in Daniel’s new book The Curious World of Bugs.

Spider from Papua

Hi Daniel,
Thanks – I think you steered me in the right direction.  I’m going to guess this is in the Nicodamidae family which was split out of the family Theridiidae (according to what I can find on some Aussie web sites) about 15 years ago.  The Australian Red and Black spider (not to be confused with the Red Back) looks almost identical to mine and is a member of this family.
This one has a body length of 8mm, and from what I can tell looking at pictures would appear to be a female.

Thanks for writing back Kevin.  As you did not provide a link, we searched and found the family Nicodamidae on the Spiders of Australia website and there were photos of Nicodamus peregrinus, which looks very close to your specimen.  The webpage indicates Nicodamus peregrinus can be found in Eastern Australia, and that “The family Nicodamidae consist of nine genera with 29 descibed species, all living in Australia, one in New Guinea and one in New-Zealand.”  The Esperance Fauna website also devotes nice coverage to the family Nicodamidae.

Sorry for not including the links – yes, those were the sites I found most helpful also.

Who can it be now?
Location:  meadow garden, Outer Banks, North Carolina
October 2, 2010 1:28 pm
Found this interesting caterpillar eating my goldenrod flowers, Solidago canadensis. Can you identify, please?
Signature:  seedmoney

Might this be The Asteroid???

Dear seedmoney,
We believe this must be the highly variable Goldenrod Hooded Owlet Caterpillar,
Cucullia asteroides, which we tentatively identified on BugGuide.  Perhaps it is just the angle of view of your photograph, but the head on your caterpillar looks very small compared to the heads of the Hooded Owlet Caterpillars posted to BugGuideBugGuide has no images of caterpillars of the Goldenrod Hooded Owlet with such minimal markings, and the pink and green color reminds us of ice cream indicating that it must be edible.  Perhaps David Gracer will provide a comment.

Also called The Asteroid, the Goldenrod Hooded Owlet Caterpillar just sent us off careening in another direction.  We are going to have to contact Dr. Krupp from the Griffith Observatory to get his take on a Caterpillar named for an astronomical body.  We are going to pitch a book collaboration with Dr. Krupp, a book called Insects and other Heavenly Bodies, and Daniel hopes Dr. Krupp might consider the proposal.  Daniel respects many people in the world, but few more than Dr. Krupp, the archeoastronomer who has been the Director of the Griffith Observatory since 1974 or 1796 or so.  He was the director during the 1990s when Lisa Anne Auerbach and Daniel were the photography staff at the Griffith Observatory and they self published The Casual Observer, the legendary notorious zine that is only available in the collections of two museums, The Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City and the venerable and wildly popular Griffith Observatory, arguably the most historic structure and publicly recognizable landmark in the entire city of Los Angeles.  The Griffith Observatory has appeared in numerous movies, including Rebel Without A Cause, Earth Girls are Easy, The End of Violence, Devil in a Blue Dress, and the not so authorized Flesh Gordon (Disclaimer: This is a PG rated movie trailer to an adult themed film with comedic artistic merit).

Location:  Central Coast California, Morro Bay
October 2, 2010 6:23 pm
I took this butterfly picture on the Central Coast in California in the state park: Montana de Oro in Morro Bay….on 9/25/2010
my only guess is: California Sister, Adepha Bredolii,
Lorquin’s Orange tip Admiral, Basilarchia Lorquini
am I close? what exactly did I take a picture of????
Signature:  that bug is a…..

California Sister

The two butterflies you mention, the California Sister and Lorquin’s Admiral, are very similar in appearance, and their ranges do overlap.  You have photographed a California Sister, however, you have cited the wrong scientific name as well as spelling it incorrectly.  The California Sister is Adelpha californica, and according to BugGuide:  “There are 3 closely related populations of Sisters that have until recently been treated as subspecies of one species – Adelpha bredowii. Most now consider these to represent three distinct species, though the question is still debated:
Adelpha bredowii (not north of Mexico; sometimes spelled bredowi)
Adelpha californica
Adelpha eulalia

Hermetia fly?
Location:  Redding, California, United States, North America
October 2, 2010 6:18 pm
Hey, my roommate caught this fly and I can’t figure out what it is. Short anennae, maybe 3 segments. The hindtibia are half white and half black, and the foretarsus, midtarsus, and hindtarsus are all white. Interestingly, there only appears to be 4 abdominal sternites, the first of which, appearing where the 1st and 2nd usually would be, is transparent/white. The rest of the body, including the wings, is black, or very nearly so, excepting the halters, which are a cotton candy/bread-mold blue. It looks very similar to certain wasps that live in this area, and often opens it’s wings to a position similar to bees or waspsso I thought it might be in the family Hermetia, but I haven’t been able to find a picture that matches this fly. Do you have any idea what it is?
Signature:  Collegiate ameture

Window Fly

Dear Collegiate ameture,
You are absolutely correct.  Your fly is a Black Soldier Fly,
Hermetia illucens, though we prefer the name Window Fly, a name not recognized on BugGuide.  We use the name Window Fly which was reported by Charles Hogue in his excellent book, Insects of the Los Angeles Basin, and the name refers to the transparent “windows” on the abdomen that you describe.  BugGuide uses Window Fly for an entirely different family.

Just moved to Florida from Oregon
Location:  North Palm Beach, Fla.
October 2, 2010 4:53 pm
What the HECK is this? The first time I saw this bug was in the bathroom of my new place. It was fast, moved very strangely and quickly, but didn’t appear to have wings.
I saw another today on my living room wall, captured it and froze it to snap a pic. I’ve searched your site and all over online with no luck IDing it.
Very long back legs, it’s last body segment it rapidly bobs up and down constantly. Tiny wings are almost invisible. It seems to be a cross between an ant and a wasp. My home is next to a pond and there are mangroves all around, and I’m very near the intracoastal waterway.
Any ideas? Does it sting?
Signature:  THANK YOU! — Scott

Ensign Wasp

Dear Scott,
The Ensign Wasp does not sting, however it will help to control the Cockroach population since it parasitizes the ootheca or egg cases of Cockroaches.