From the yearly archives: "2010"

Life (and death) in a milkweed patch
December 28, 2010
Location:  Manitoba Birds Hill Provincial Park, Canada
Hi Daniel:
Every July tens of thousands of people descend on Manitoba’s Birds Hill Provincial Park for one of Canada’s, and North America’s, oldest and largest folk festivals (we haven’t missed it for more than 30 years!). In 2006 I discovered the most impressive milkweed patch I have ever seen, wedged between a parking lot and an oak forest, and was thrilled with the abundant and diverse bug life I found there. To my dismay, however, I then watched the patch get systematically destroyed over the next few days as festival goers heedlessly drove and parked all over the patch in an effort to get closer to the shade provided by the adjacent trees. This is generally a ‘green’ crowd so I think it happened more out of ignorance than callousness, but the result was the same. When the same thing happened in 2007 I decided something needed to be done. So I contacted both park and festival staff to plead my case for the protection of this incredible island of diversity, particularly since it is located in the middle of a provincial park.

Milkweed Patch Saved

When we arrived for the 2008 festival I went straight to the patch and was delighted to see the whole area cordoned off, as it has been every year since. Unfortunately, 2008 was one of our coldest wettest summers in recent memory and the milkweeds were barely knee-high and not flowering. The next year was almost as bad, but in 2010 our glorious summer weather returned and the milkweeds were nearly chest high and flowering profusely – and the bug watching was spectacular! The attached photo of what I believe is a Xysticus punctatus Crab Spider finishing off a hapless Monarch caterpillar is one of my favourites from 2010. The other two photos show the milkweed patch after the 2007 festival, and protected in 2010. If you or any of your readers are interested, I have uploaded a collection of photos taken at this location since 2006 (with more to follow next year, I am sure). I am still working on some of the identifications and I am not certain about some of the ones I have inserted, so any comments or suggestions would be welcomed and appreciated. Regards.  Karl

Crab Spider eats Monarch Caterpillar

Hi Karl,
We love hearing how your conservation activism made a difference.  You did not attach any images, so we took the liberty of lifting a few from your web posting.  We might be interested in posting a few more butterflies and dragonflies if you give permission.  We especially love the Milkweed Meadow as an important and diverse ecosystem, and we recently created a unique tag for postings related to Milkweed.

Crab Spider eats Monarch Caterpillar

Thanks for bailing me out Daniel; I forget my attachments all the time. These were the files I was going to send but I am also fine with what you put up (although I suppose they don’t quite match the text).  Go ahead and borrow anything you like, or let me know if you have anything specific in mind. I have thousands of photos that I have been meaning to organize and perhaps upload, but I just haven’t been able to find the time. Perhaps next year.  Have a great new year! K

Destroyed Milkweed Patch in 2007

Thanks for sending additional images Karl.  We have posted the 2007 image with the mutilated Milkweed Patch to accompany the original posting.  We will let you know if we post any of your other wonderful images.

Location: SE lower Michigan
December 27, 2010 2:20 pm
Can you help me identify this spider? We have spotted them a few in our home.
Signature: H. Smith

Black Footed Spider

Dear H. Smith,
Your spider is a Black Footed Spider or Yellow Sac Spider,
Cheiracanthium mildei, a species that was introduced from Europe.  It was once believed to be a species whose bite could cause necropsy around the bite, but that speculation is no longer believed.  The revision can be read about on the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene website.

Thank you so much for taking a look at it.
We really do appreciate this awesome service to those of us out here that have no clue as to how to identify these things.

Caterpillar that screams don’t eat me!
Location: Venice, CA 90291
December 27, 2010 5:04 pm
Dear WhatsThatBug,
I saw this bold caterpillar walking west toward the beach in sunny Venice Beach, California. The caterpillar was fairly large, about half a pinkey length and the first think I noticed about it was its beautiful red/blue stripes along its back and its fierce black spikes. Any idea what type of caterpillar this Venice Beach visitor/local might be? Hope you enjoy the photo and happy holidays!
Signature: Venice Todd

Gulf Fritillary Caterpillar

Hi Todd,
This is a Gulf Fritillary Caterpillar, the immature stage of one of the most common butterflies in Southern California.  The Caterpillar of the Gulf Fritillary feeds exclusively on the leaves of the passionflower vine, a common introduced plant, and the introduction of the plant in areas with warmer climates is responsible for the range expansion of the butterfly.  It is our understanding that both the butterfly and food plant are native to Mexico, Central America and South America, but the religious symbolism of the flower has led to its cultivation in warmer areas of the United States, and that cultivation has allowed the pretty orange butterfly to also expand its range.  Since this individual caterpillar was not found on the plant, it is a likely bet that it is about to metamorphose into a chrysalis.  When the caterpillars are mature, an oxymoron since the caterpillar is actually the immature stage of the mature butterfly, it leaves its food plant and searches for an appropriate site to transform into a stationary chrysalis.

Half Ant, Half Caterpillar?

Flightless Female Flower Wasp

Half Ant, Half Caterpillar?
Location: Spoon Bay Lookout, NSW, Australia
December 28, 2010 5:07 am
Hello bugman!
I went to a lookout to take some photos (I love my photography) at a lookout over Spoon Bay near Forrester’s Beach in NSW. Behind me crawling on the wooden deck of the lookout was a very strange and unique insect, with the head, and upper body of a large ant, and the lower half appeared to be a spotted caterpillar abdomen. What I thought anyway. I happened, and was lucky enough, to have my macro lens with me to take a few shots.
I’ve never seen anything like it, would you be able to enlighten me with the title and description of this insect?
Signature: From Cassy

Flightless Female Flower Wasp

Dear Cassy,
We are quite excited to be able to post your excellent images.  In early November of this year, we posted an image of a Wasp from Wollongong that we identified as a male Flower Wasp in the family Tiphiidae, and during that search, we found a photo of a flightless female Flower Wasp tentatively identified as Thynnus apterus on Red Bubble.  That individual was photographed during the mating ritual at Emerald Beach, New South Wales.  In November 2009, we posted a photo from Tasmania that is very similar to your photo and that Eric Eaton identified as a flightless female Flower Wasp, possibly in the genus
Catocheilus.  So, while we are confident that this is a flightless female Flower Wasp in the family Tiphiidae, we are still not able to provide a conclusive identification.  Perhaps one of our readers can provide a reliable link with a conclusive identification for this marvelous flightless female Flower Wasp.

Flightless Female Flower Wasp

Brightly-colored Turkish beetle
Location: Central Turkey – Ihlara valley, Cappadocia
December 28, 2010 11:34 am
This is a picture of what looks like a beetle, taken in June 2009 in the Cappadocia region of Turkey.
We’ve identified some of our other Turkish bugs from this great site, and were hoping you could tell us what this beauty is!
Signature: Dave and Debbie

Red and Black Striped Stink Bug

Dear Dave and Debbie,
Perhaps the reason that you have had difficulty with this particular identification is because you mistook this Stink Bug for a Beetle, a common mistake.  This is a Red and Black Striped Stink Bug,
Graphosoma lineatum, and the Trek Nature website has a photo posted that was taken in Turkey.  BioLib has an image of this species that was taken in Israel, and elsewhere on the BioLib website, the range is listed as “North Africa, Spain?, Southern France?, Sardinia, Corsica.”  In our own archives, you can see an image of a mating pair taken in France.

what type of caterpillar
Location: Vermont
December 27, 2010 7:22 pm
We saw this caterpillar hiking in Vermont this fall and we are wondering what it is and what it will look like as a butterfly or moth.
Signature: interested in amesbury

Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar

Dear interested,
Your caterpillar is one of the Tiger Swallowtails.  There are several species with ranges that overlap in Vermont, including the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and the Canadian Tiger Swallowtail.  It is very difficult to tell the species apart.  The caterpillars of both species turn from green to brown or sometime orange just prior to pupation.  You can see a photo of an adult Tiger Swallowtail in our archive.