From the yearly archives: "2010"

Mysterious under-log chrysalis and clearwing sphinx
Location:  Southern Illinois
September 27, 2010 8:05 pm
Was out flipping over logs with the boyos today, and found this chrysalis on the underside of a log, surrounded by fungus, but apparently none the worse for the wear. Still wiggled when we teased it.
I’ve googled my first few guesses as to what forest butterfly it may belong to. Doesn’t seem to be a Mourning Cloak or a Comma. No particularly distinctive protrusions, and no metallic reflector bits. Found in open forest, under a log.
Does it look familiar to you?
Also attaching a clearwing sphinx shot that turned out well from the other week.
Signature:  Bert

Tiger Swallowtail Chrysalis

Hi Bert,
We do not recognize this pupa, and we did a quick check on BugGuide, but did not have any luck.  We suspect this may be a moth pupa and not a butterfly pupa.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to supply a response and identification.

Karl Identifies the Mystery Pupa
Hi Daniel and Bert:
I can’t be entirely certain but this looks very much like the overwintering pupa of an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus). Swallowtail chrysalids are typically attached to a twig, branch or tree trunk by a silk girdle, but some species do pupate on the ground. Eastern Swallowtail caterpillars always chose a pupation site near the ground, and they quite often pupate on or among the leaf litter on the forest floor where the chrysalis is protected by its cryptic texture and coloration. In addition to the grey-brown coloration, characteristics include greenish patches of varying extent and intensity, two horns on the head and one horn at the top of the thorax. It looks to me as if all of these features are evident on this individual. How it got under the log remains a bit of a mystery, but I suppose the caterpillar could have crawled under it, or perhaps the chrysalis somehow rolled under. Anyway, that is my best guess. Regards.  Karl

Thank you Karl,
It appears you have identified yet another mystery for us.

Alianthus… but not!
Location:  Santiago de Cuba
September 28, 2010 3:03 am
Hi Bug People,
Congrats on your book! I’m trying to work out some way of getting it here in Israel (Amazon doesn’t ship here, and if they do, the shipping costs far more than the book).
Last July I went on a trip to Cuba, and at Santiago’s El Morro fortress I saw a myriad of moths of all shapes and sizes, from black witches to melonworm moths.
I managed to ID most of them, thanks to the wonderful WTB (thanks again!), but this one stumped me. Couldn’t find it on Bug Guide either. It looks just like an Alianthus, but the coloring is all wrong. Instead of the orange background, it has very dark red and blue. At a distance it looks black.
Any help would be greatly appreciated, the curiosity is driving me crazier than I already am!
I’m also curious about the congregation of moths in one place. Yes, the fortress is well lit, but so are a lot of other places. Many of the moths seemed to be old or dying and the birds were enjoying an all-you-can-eat buffet.
The old Spanish fortress is located just outside the city of Santiago de Cuba, at the mouth of the bay that is still used as the city’s port, at the south-eastern end of Cuba.
Signature:  Ben from Israel

Owlet Moth from Cuba

Hi Ben,
We agree that this does somewhat resemble the Ailanthus Webworm, meaning that it may be in the Tropical Ermine Moth subfamily Attevinae, but that is just a guess.  We also had no luck in trying to identify this moth.  We will post your letter and photo and hope someone will be able to provide additional information or perhaps an identification.  We also tried to scan the Moth Photographers Group website thinking that if if is found in Cuba, it may also be recorded in Florida, but that did not produce a match, though we only scratched the surface on the possibilities.  Regarding the book, it is also available through several other vendors and we are not certain if any of them ship to Israel.  Check out our current links to the vendors carrying the book on our site.

Karl Identifies Owlet Moth
Hi Daniel and Ben:
This looks so similar to a Tropical Ermine Moth that it is a little difficult to switch focus, but it is actually an Owlet Moth (Noctuidae) in the subfamily Acontiinae. The genus is Cydosia, of which there are at least ten species but only three realistic possibilities (the rest are restricted to South America). There is considerable variability in all three but to me it looks like C. nobilitella. It is also the only one I could confirm as resident in Cuba (ranges from southern United States to Argentina, and throughout the Antilles). The Bugguide also has several photos. Regards.  Karl

Thanks so much Karl.

Ben writes Back
September 29, 2010
Hi Daniel,
Sorry I didn’t provide more details.
The congregation of moths was all over the old Spanish fortress, on the walls, the ground, everywhere! Even inside open rooms. No trees anywhere near, and very little other vegetation.
I’m attaching a photo of what I believe is a white witch, and one of a section of wall about 1 sq meter, where I counted at least 10 moths.

Mysterious Congregation of Moths

Hi again Ben,
Now that you have sent a photo of the moth congregation, we have no theory and our original theory about sap or sweet sticky substances doesn’t seem correct.  Perhaps one of our readers will have an opinion about this mystery.

Location:  Capon Springs, West Virginia
September 27, 2010 11:11 pm
I found this bug while on vacation… can you identify it? Is it even a bug? From what I can see, slugs have snails and caterpillars have… this guy. Or maybe it’s a small rodent disguised in fluorescent green armadillo shell? Haha…
This was found on a sidewalk in Capon Springs, WV around 9:30am. It’s about 3/4 inch long and 1/2 in wide. I got him (?) to clasp on to the twig and then he barely moved at all. Thanks for your help!
Signature:  ~Lisa

Crowned Slug Caterpillar

Hi Lisa,
Your logic about slugs was actually in the right direction.  This is called a Crowned Slug, but it is really a caterpillar,
Isa textula.  You were also wise to use a twig while handling the Crowned Slug as it is a stinging caterpillar.  The Crowned Slug is often found feeding on the leaves of oak trees, bug according to BugGuide, they will also feed upon the leaves of “cherry, maple, basswood, elm and beech.

September 27, 2010
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Monarch larvae & chrysalis
September 27, 2010
Hi Daniel,
I’ve sent you a few pix over the last couple of months, one of which you featured as September’s Bug of the Month.
Thought you might be interested in this monarch larvae. I found it munching on milkweed, which I have growing all around my property and in my yard. (For this very reason!) I decided to try bringing it in and making a “perfect spot” for it to make its chrysalis. Well, the photos show the progression: it continued to eat for another full day after I brought it in, which was September 22. On the evening of September 23, it started making its way up the branch. I figured I’d find a chrysalis the next morning. Instead, it had disappeared, no where to be found! On the 25th, I found the larvae on my wall, way down by the heat baseboard. I debated on moving it, but left it there and went to do errands. I came home in the mid afternoon to find the chrysalis hanging from the wall! Now, will a butterfly emerge?!
K L Thalin
Saxtons River, Vermont

Monarch Caterpillar

Dear KL,
The adult should emerge in a few weeks depending upon the temperature.

Monarch Chrysalis

Ed. Note: We just posted an image of an Ailanthus Webworm and we have been getting some interesting comments on the host tree, the Tree of Heaven.  Here is a nice piece of fanmail.

Ailanthus comment
Ailanthus trees are nasty and they smell bad.
September 27, 2010 10:36 am
I check out your website everyday and I love it a lot, and I couldn’t do without it. When you go to your Mom’s house in Ohio ever year, I go into withdrawal until you get back. I just have to have my WTB fix.
Just a quick comment on those nasty trees in the picture.
When I lived in Detroit, they grow all over the place,in the alleys etc.
They smell bad. My friends and neighbors and I always referred to them as sewer trees because of their odor.
They’re hard to get rid of. They have a extensive root system and unless you dig them up, you can’t get rid of them.
Even when they’re small and they’re not much bigger than toothpicks, they have one heck of a root system.
Hopefully an insect will appear that would take care of that scourge, and save people a lot of time and trouble trying to dispose of them.
Signature: Sueann Juzwiak