From the yearly archives: "2010"

Master of Disguise
July 22, 2010
Hi guys,
Having problems trying to use the form to submit so in case it didn’t get through here is my query.
I found this today and thought I had found a spider in the Tetragnathidae family (Long Jawed Spiders) but on close examination realised it was a true bug doing a great job of disguising itself. It doesn’t appear to have a proboscis which would rule out the assassins. Any ideas or has anyone seen something like this before?

Unknown True Bug

Hi Trevor,
We love getting letters from you.  You always provide us with such interesting Australian creatures and your photos are always wonderful.

Alas, we cannot identify your True Bug, but we hope that by posting your letter in our new “Featured” section, one of our readers may write in and provide an identification and some details.  We will also contact Eric Eaton to see if he can provide a family, though his area of expertise is North American species.

Eric Eaton provides his opinion
Daniel:  The Australian thing is a nymph of some kind.  I’d have to side with Reduviidae, though my first thought was a walkingstick.
Sorry, you are better at Aussie bugs now than I am!

Karl writes in
Hi Daniel and Trevor:
Like Eric, my first thought was Walkingstick; I then flirted briefly with Stilt Bugs and finally landed on Assassin Bugs.  It appears to be a species of Australcmena, an Australian genus with only two reported species, A. lineativentris and A. handschini. According to the site “Die Raubwanzen der Welt” ( the two are synonymous and A. lineativentris is the only species in the genus. I could find absolutely no other information about this curious bug. Regards. Karl

Karl provides some additional information
I somehow missed this earlier but the “Brisbane Insects and Spiders” site and the “Lifeunseen” site both have pictures of Australcmena lineativentris adults, also known as the Long Assassin Bug. Not surprisingly, they look quite different from the nymph in Trevor’s photo but some features are consistent. You can just make out the rudimentary spikes on the back of the nymph’s pronotum for instance. Australcmena belongs in the Harpactorinae subfamily. K

Green eyed insect that made 5 dirt nest under garbage cans
Location:  Utah
July 21, 2010 12:43 pm
I found 5 hills with one entrance in each under my garbage can. Then a wasp/fly/? looking bug appeared. It had long wings and bright green eyes. It seemed to have either a stinger or antennae out the mouth area. We sprayed the hills and took the picture just before it died. I have never seen it before and lived here in Utah for 5+ years. Do you know what it is? Thanks so much for your time and effort. I wish I could just download the picture and that it would match it with the bug.
Sincerely Heidi

Sand Loving Wasp

Dear Heidi,
One of our primary purposes in running What’s That Bug? is to promote tolerance and appreciation of the lower beasts, and to educate the public in an effort to prevent the senseless slaughter of beneficial or benign insects and other arthropods because we know that people fear the unknown, hence the creation of our Unnecessary Carnage section where your letter and photo will be archived.  We were uncertain of the identity of this digging Hymenopteran, so we sought assistance from Eric Eaton who was kind enough to respond:  “
Hi, Daniel:  The insect is a “sand-loving wasp” in the genus Tachytes.  Hard to say more without examining the specimen under a microscope.  EricBugGuide does not have much information on the genus,  however, BugGuide does provide this tidbit of information on the info page of the subfamily to which it belongs, Crabroninae, the Square Headed Wasps:  “Some nest in hollow stems or in abandoned galleries in wood, others burrow in the ground. The principal prey is flies, but some utilize various other types of insects.” We can deduce that the proximity of the underground nests to the garbage cans means that your species feeds upon flies.  Your Sand Loving Wasp would be considered a beneficial insect by most people since it helps to control pestiferous flies that are attracted to garbage and can spread diseases including:  Typhoid fever, Cholera, Escherichia coli (E. coli), Shigellosis, Polio, Diarrhea, Anthrax, Eye inflammation, Tuberculosis, Yaws, Dysentery, Trachoma, Conjunctivitis and even Leprosy.  Were we you, we would welcome Sand Loving Wasps in the vicinity of our garbage cans.  Perhaps our response will cause you to allow any future nests to develop unmolested.  As a postscript, Sand Loving Wasps are not known to sting humans.  They are solitary wasps and solitary wasps do not have the aggressive nest protecting behavior exhibited by social wasps like Yellowjackets and Red Wasps.

Sphinx Moth
Location:  Round lake IL (north of Chicago)
July 21, 2010 7:20 pm
The other night I stepped out onto my deck to see this beauty sipping nectar. The red flowers are Nicotiana and are 2 inches across. Definately larger then the Ruby throated Hummingbirds that also visit my yard. Later I saw it feed at my petunias. Is this a Carolina Sphinx? the patterns look wrong to my eyes, it can’t be a satellite sphinx, we are way to North.
Tom Helmka

Pandora Sphinx

Hi Tom,
Your photos are great at capturing the amazing mobility of the aerodynamic flight of a Sphinx Moth, but they are not ideal for identification purposes.  Nonetheless, we are relatively confident that you observed a Pandora Sphinx,
Eumorpha pandorus, and you can read more about this lovely moth on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website which thankfully has a view of the undersides of the wings for comparison with your only image that has the features of the wings visible.

Pandora Sphinx

Thank you so much for your time! I really appreciate the effort you put into this. Your ID looks spot on.
Thanks again
Tom Helmka

Papilio Glaucus turnus dark form morph
Location:  northern VA
July 21, 2010 9:22 am
Hi, I believe I have just found a rare Papilio Glaucus turnus (Eastern Tiger Swallowtail) female dark form morph. In 60 years, I have not seen one save for the two photos on your website, neither of which appear to be the same as mine. I just wanted to share the marvel. Do you have anything to add?
Amateur Lepidopterist

Tiger Swallowtail: intermediate between light and dark morphs

Dear Amateur Lepidopterist,
Sadly, we were running late for work this morning, and though we opened your letter and saw your lovely mounted specimen images of an individual in a transitional phase between the normal light morph and the dark morph.  The true dark morph of a female Tiger Swallowtail is not as plentiful as the typical light yellow and black striped beauty.  The dark morph has a low contrast between the dark ground and the slightly darker stripes.  In the past several years, we have received two other examples of intermediary phases, and as these transitional morphs may be nearer to each of the extremes, which explains like our older examples are different than yours.  One example from earlier this year is of a living specimen that favors the darker morph.  An earlier example from 2008 is almost halfway between the two variations in coloration, with the black concentrated at the edges of the wings.  Your individual favors the light normal morph with just the centers of the wings being darker.  Thanks again for sending your photos.  We think it is interesting that these color variations, which only occur in female Tiger Swallowtails, exhibit such a wide range of possibilities.  This might make for an revealing genetics study.

P.S.  We do not condone insect collecting for anything but scientific purposes.  You should look up the proper format for labeling mounted specimens, and you should keep very specific records on the time and location and even weather conditions of the capture.

Ed. Note: When we sent a brief offline response to Amateur Lepidopterist this morning, here is what we wrote:  “Only that I am running out of the house to go to work and I wish I had the fifteen minutes it will take to post this right now.  I will post your letter this evening or tomorrow morning.  It is lovely and beautifully mounted.  Daniel

Giant Winged Thingy!
Location:  High Falls, New York
July 20, 2010 7:24 pm
Hello Bugman!
Just got back from a Mid-July trip to Upper State New York. This really large winged insect slept on the outside of my hotel window screen all day. I am speculating that it is a giant winged termite, but none of my searches, thus far show one like this.
Any ideas?


Hi Freya,
This is actually a female Dobsonfly, and though we never thought of it before, they do rather resemble giant winged termites.

Thanks! My husband was saying it was a Fishfly, but the antennae and mouthparts in the picture he showed me looked different. Maybe they are related?
Thanks again.
It was cool.

Your husband is not really too far off.  Dobsonflies and Fishflies are closely related since they are in the same family Corydalidae (see BugGuide).  You are quite observant since one of the differentiating characteristics is the antennae.

What is this bug that captures grasshoppers?
Location:  Eastern Ontario Canada
July 20, 2010 8:18 pm
We live in eastern Ontario between Ottawa and Montreal Canada. Last year we started to see these large ’flys’ swarming around our pool shed and down under some loose brick near the pool. There was just a few of them but what was interesting is that they captured and carried grasshoppers back under the brick where they obviously have a nest. This year there were many more of them so I got some sticky paper that’s meant to capture bugs and even mice (very sticky) and have caught nearly all of them along with a bunch of grasshoppers. There’s still a few of them left. They do not bother humans or try to bite but are rather annoying when a bunch are buzzing around. Its difficult to spray insecticide as its outside but I’m wondering how to get rid of them permanently. I’ve been at this location for 30 years but last year was the first time I’ve ever seen these bugs.
Evan McIntosh
I’ve attached a picture
Evan McIntosh

Great Black Wasp Carnage

Dear Evan,
This is a Great Black Wasp,
Sphex pensylvanicus, and as your letter indicates, it is not an aggressive species.  We do not give extermination advice, however, it has always been our mission to educate the public with regards to insects, spiders and other creatures that might appear to be frightening, but are actually quite benign or even beneficial.  The Great Black Wasp is one of those insects.  We cannot condone a justification of eradication just because a species is “somewhat annoying” especially since you indicate that they “do not bother humans or try to bite.”  We will be filing your letter and photograph under Unnecessary Carnage in an effort to educate.  According to BugGuide, the female Great Black Wasps:  “Provision nests (in burrow in soft earth) with Katydids or grasshoppters [sic]. (Univ. Florida lists: Tettigoniidae in genera Microcentrum and Scudderia.) Usually about three are placed in a nest.”  There is a nice image on Wikipedia of a Great Black Wasp dragging a Katydid to its burrow.  We would encourage you to be more tolerant of Great Black Wasps in the future.

A Reader Chastises Us for Failing to Educate
Failing to educate
July 17, 2011 6:26 am
I was just reading your response to Evan McIntosh regarding eradication of great black wasps. You wrote, “…it has always been our mission to educate the public with regards to insects, spiders and other creatures that might appear to be frightening, but are actually quite benign or even beneficial.  The Great Black Wasp is one of those insects.” You were quick to judge Evan by classifying his post under “Unnecessary Carnage” and claim to have education as your primary mission, yet do not provide one useful piece of info in your response. Did you think to describe WHY the great black wasp is beneficial? Next time, try educating first, and judging second. For me, I’m exterminating these wasps because my 3 yr old is afraid to leave the front door, where they “patrol” constantly, and my wife doesn’t like them getting into our home through the basement. I’d rather study bees and wasps with him on my terms, not theirs. I’d be happy to send a nice photo if you want more for your “Unnecessary Carnage” file.
Signature: Paul Bradley

Educational Entry:
The Great Black Wasp,
Sphex pensylvanicus, is a Thread Waisted Wasp that is also known as the Katydid Hunter according to BugGuide.