From the monthly archives: "January 2011"

Fan letter, no response requested
January 31, 2011 3:50 pm
I have just spent the morning re-visiting your site, one of the very best in the world in my humble opinion. To my knowledge, no one else is doing what you do. Just one reason for your work: songbirds of all kinds are in serious decline, in no small measure due to pesticide use. Private individuals are often the worst offenders in use of widely available, broad-spectrum pesticides. We all need to learn not to unthinkingly destroy invertebrates.
Unnecessary Carnage” is important as well as entertaining (if tragic), and the entire “Nasty Readership” section has made me laugh more today than anything has in weeks. You guys are incredible. I know it’s a lot to ask of volunteers with important, time-consuming day jobs, but please never stop!
Signature: Lee White

Hi Lee,
Thanks so much for your kind letter.  It is really appreciated.

Me again, sorry — more supportive thoughts
February 1, 2011 1:36 am
I have been sitting here for some time now, re-reading your marvelous responses to irate readers. These are people who have been trained to believe that the customer, however ignorant and infantile, deserves immediate gratification and an ego stroke in the process. “Ooh, was the bug scary? Oh you poor thing! I can’t believe you waited hours for my unpaid labor!” It thrills me beyond words that you don’t play that game.
As to the smash-first response (“But I was scared!” “I feared for the safety of the chiilldrennn…”), how hard is it to brush the critter off and count some legs? Education is everything! As a California child, I feared the dreaded potato bug, but eventually learned to appreciate it as the harmless and charming Jerusalem cricket. Of course, some people don’t care; they smash because they just don’t like bugs, or because “it’s only a bug”. As I recently told my  classmate, who smirked while I took some trapped boxelder bugs outside, “they understand suffering as well as you do”. Unnecessary carnage is not okay.
Signature: Lee White

Potato Bug from our archives

Thanks for your additional insight Lee.  We have found a nice image of a Potato Bug from our archives to illustrate your passionate and supportive letter.

Unknown moth?
Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand
January 31, 2011 9:29 am
The two different species or male and female of the same species were taken in late January in our dry season at 800 meters. They were photographed at the same small pool on consecutive days at around 1 pm. The pool was formed by a depression in granite rock about 10 feet from a larger pool fed by a small waterfall. The area around is wooded but this spot is in a 75 foot clearing due to rock. I’ve looked everywhere on the web and nothing is even close. I’m guessing Arctiinae. Any suggestions?
Signature: Dave Hutchison

Clearwing Moth from Thailand

Dear Dave,
Though there is a group of Arctiids that mimic wasps, there is another family, Sesiidae, that are also wasp mimics, though the family is collectively known as Clearwings.  There are many species in this family that exhibit marked sexual dimorphism, so much so that males and females look like different species.  Many Sesiids have larvae that are borers in the stems and roots of woody plants.  You can see many examples of North American Sesiids on BugGuide.

Clearwing Moth from Thailand

We are going to do a quick search of the internet to see if we have any luck with this species, but we have a time constraint this morning as we will be closing the offices and not responding to any additional letters while we are at our day job.

Clearwing Moth from Thailand

Green Insect Found On Oahu
Location: Honolulu, HI
January 31, 2011 1:48 am
Hi, I found this insect on a hike in Manoa this weekend. Do you know what it is? It was on a tree near a river.
Signature: EMC

Unknown Green Thing

Dear EMC,
Do you have a photo with more depth of field that shows some of the physical characteristics of this creature, like its head?  It appears from your photo that the creature keeps its back two pairs of legs together, but we cannot make out what is going on with the front legs.  Perhaps one of our readers will recognize this creature, which we believe might be some Orthopteran, the order that included crickets and katydids.  Since we cannot make out any wings, we believe this may be an immature specimen.

Thank for your reply.  I was thinking a form of leaf insect too, but then I was thinking that it had characteristics of a net casing spider also.  This was the only photo that I was able to get of it.
Thank you for your help.

Update courtesy of Karl
Hi Daniel and EMC:
I believe you are correct Daniel in suggesting that this is a katydid (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae). I was able to find only one similar image on a site by Collin Miller (scroll down four images). Unfortunately creature is not identified beyond family but, although the photo is a little fuzzy, it does show what is going on with the front legs. It probably is a juvenile so a more precise identification will likely require some expertise or a lot of research. Regards. Karl

Location: Hillsborough, California
January 31, 2011 12:30 am
I put on a pair of rubber gloves sitting next to the laundry room sink to wash my dog. I thought I was having a ”charlie horse” on my hand (is that even possible?) and then it felt like someone was pushing a needle in my hand. I realized I was being bitten. I threw off the gloves and shook out the contents and this is what fell out? Can you please identify this creepy looking bug ?????? Is is at all dangerous???? I guess it’s not deadly since it happened on Friday (January 28, 2011) and I am still alive on Sunday. Will you inform me if you can identify it or do I have to keep checking the website? Thank you!!!!!
Signature: M. Better

Assassin Bug

Dear M. Better,
This is an Assassin Bug, most likely in the genus Zelus.  They are beneficial predators, however, they have been known to bite humans, and as you indicate, the bite is quite painful.  Most of our reports of bites result after accidental encounters like your own, or through careless handling.  The insect bites with its piercing mouthparts that are used to suck fluids from the hapless insect and arthropod prey.  Though painful, the bite is not considered dangerous.

Bite mark of an Assassin Bug

Thanks for the quick response!   I looked up the Assassin Bug, genus Zelus, on your website and saw a bug that was similar but didn’t have that dreadful looking hook of a mouth.  Does that particular insect have a “hook” mouth?  Is the “hook” the part that penetrates it’s victims?  Is the insect able to point the hook straight forward to penetrate or is it always in the hook position?  Thanks!
M. Better

Hi again,
All Assassin Bugs have similar mouthparts.  There is some degree of mobility in the organ.

LA Times Obituary Milton Levine, 1913-2011:  January 28, 2011
by Valerie J. Nelson
“The creation of a toy that would become an American classic was triggered in 1956 by a Fourth of July parage of ants at a Studio City picnic.”  Read More

Ant Farm

Small beetle
Location: Montreal, Quebec
January 29, 2011 7:06 pm
Dear Bugman!
With the bedbug craze currently going on I am very worried because I found this tiny bug on my living room sofa. Please let me know what it is!
Signature: Itchy and Scratchy

Probably Carpet Beetle

Hi Itchy and Scratchy,
Rest assured that this is not a Bed Bug.  It appears to be one of the Carpet Beetles in the family Dermestidae.  You can view examples of Carpet Beetles on BugGuide.  Carpet Beetles are considered to be unwanted household pests and many species, because they feed on natural fibers like wool and feathers, can do considerable damage to museum collections as well as household items.