From the monthly archives: "January 2011"

Name that bug
Location: Northern California
January 26, 2011 4:42 pm
I found this little guy crawling in my backyard September 2009. Took some pictures of him and put him in the garden. What is it?
Signature: -Kimber

Achemon Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Kimber,
Though the caterpillar is highly variable in coloration and markings, we are quite certain that this is the caterpillar of the Achemon Sphinx,
Eumorpha achemon.  You may compare you photo to images posted to Bugguide.

Thank you
Kimber Thompson & son

Identification help please.
Location: Yateley, Berkshire
January 27, 2011 12:33 pm
Hi bugman,
I have tried to identify this off my own back but I’m stumped. I thought it is like a Mayfly but it doesn’t have long tail extensions.
Kind Regards
Signature: Matthew Harvey


Dear Matthew,
We believe that because of the structure of the head and antennae, that this is an Owlfly in the Neuropteran family Ascalaphidae, but we are not certain.  We had no luck finding any matching images on the internet.  BugGuide describes Owlflies as:  “Bizarre creatures that look like a cross between a dragonfly and a butterfly. The body resembles that of other neuropterans, more-or-less, but the prominent antennae are clubbed like those of butterflies. Key characters:  Medium to large size  Clubbed antennae  Eyes large and bulge out from head  may rest in cryptic posture with abdomen projecting from perch, resembling a twig
.”  The way that the individual in your photograph holds its wings seems quite different from any other images of Owlflies we have seen.

Identification thanks to Eric Eaton
Hi, Daniel:
Thanks to the Facebook post, I can help you out with this one.  Nice shot of a caddisfly, order Trichoptera.  Seems obvious to me.  Owlflies have huge eyes, clubbed antennae, and wings like dragonflies.  Granted, caddisflies normally don’t have their wings up like this one does….

Thanks for the assistance Eric.  That makes so much sense because Caddisflies are mothlike, and we thought that the head looked somewhat Lepidopteran.  According to BugGuide:  “Adults resemble moths, but wings are hairy instead of scaly.  Forewings usually dark, sturdy, sometimes with striking color patterns, held tightly together roof-like over the abdomen when at rest.  Hindwings often clear, relatively delicate, and hidden under forewings when at rest.  Antennae usually very long, threadlike, with many segments.  Chewing mouthparts with prominent palpi.  Tarsi have five segments.  Ocelli (simple eyes) present in some families.

Hi Daniel,
Thanks for trying.
I found one image of an owlfly with a similar wing pose but I can see your point.
Have seen none from the UK either.
Kind Regards

Please thank Eric on my behalf.
Still can’t find an image of one with it’s wings in that position but I have to concur with Eric that he’s got it right.

Green caterpillar south africa
Location: Mpumalanga, South Africa
January 29, 2011 7:14 am
We found this green caterpillar on our tree outside. It is approx. 100mm long x 25mm thick. ictures are with a large bic lighter to illustrate size. We would really like to know what kind of caterpillar it is.
Signature: Green caterpillar

Spined Hornworm from South Africa

Dear Green caterpillar,
We have not had any luck identifying your caterpillar on the World’s Largest Saturniidae Site.  Though we are confident that this is a Silkmoth Caterpillar in the family Saturniidae, the species identification is proving elusive

We hope that our email to Bill Oehlke will provide an identification.  Can you provide the name of the tree upon which this caterpillar was discovered?

Bill Oehlke provides a surprising revelation
I think it is not one of the Saturniidae. I remember being very surprised one time to learn that some of the South African Sphingidae have spines. I am pretty sure it is one of the Sphingidae, but I cannot remember which one.
Bill Oehlke

Ed. Note: We will begin searching this new possibility.

Bill Oehlke finds the ID
Hi Daniel,
The larva is one of the Sphingidae. It is Lophostethus dumolinii. Can you get me a larger image of the larva and the photographer’s email
Bill Oehlke

Thanks so much Bill.  We can provide you with the contact information of the person who submitted the images.  They may have higher resolution files, but we do not.

Ed. Note: We have not had any luck finding images of the caterpillar online, but Biodiversity Explorer identifies Lophostethus umolinii as the Arrow Sphinx Hawkmoth and has an image of the adult moth.

Dear Daniel,
Thank you for all the trouble you have gone to to find the species of the caterpillar I really appreciate it. Attached are larger images of the caterpillar as found in the tree. I am not too sure what the tree is but will try to look it up in the indigenous south African directory as it is an indigenous plant.  I had to move it to another tree as it was near our animals which would disturb it – I have just checked and it has made a home in the new tree and looks like it is getting ready to cocoon (if that is what you call it). Hopefully I can follow its progress and we can see the end result.

Arrow Sphinx

Hi again Jeni,
Thanks so much for sending the higher resolution images of the Arrow Sphinx.  By clicking on the images to enlarge them, our readership can compare the difference in quality.  The caudal horn is much more apparent in these higher resolution images.

Big Bear Caterpillar
Location: Big Bear Lake, CA (San Bernardino National Forest)
January 29, 2011 1:58 am
I saw an interesting looking caterpillar when I was hiking near Big Bear, CA. Later we saw the same type of caterpillar rolling down a hill, doing their best to rid themselves of a bunch of red ants.
Signature: Sat Garcia

Velda Pine Moth Caterpillar

Dear Sat,
We quickly identified your caterpillar as the Velda Pine Moth Caterpillar,
Coloradia velda, on the private World’s Largest Saturniidae Site, and we are linking to images on the Santa Clarita and Northern Los Angeles County Area Butterfly and Moth SiteYou may view dozens of photos documenting the metamorphosis process of the Velda Pine Moth there.  Adult moths do not eat but the gregarious caterpillars feed on the needles of a number of native pines.

Need insect id-Costa Rica
Location: Monteverde, Costa Rica
January 28, 2011 11:08 am
Hello. Photographed this very well camouflaged bug (insect, spider) in the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve in Monteverde area Costa Rica.
Saw it walking across a leaf. when i got close it froze up, looking like a piece of moss. Got a pretty good pic. Brought a small twig close to it, and it jumped off the leaf, almost moved spider like.What could it be.
Signature: DC

Possibly a Phasmid

Wow DC,
That is one crazy insect.  Our first guess would be a Walkingstick or other Phasmid.  They are an order known for excellent camouflage.  Our second guess would be some species of Katydid, though the antennae don’t seem long enough.  We wish you had a better view of the head as the mouthparts might give us some clues.  We hope one of our readers will be able to assist in this identification.

Jacob’s Comment leads to a post in our archive
Thanks to Jacob who found the Moss Mimic Walkingstick,
Trychopeplus laciniatus,  which was identified by Dr. Bruno Kneubühler  (Switzerland) in our own archives:  2008/08/05/moss-mimic-walkingstick-from-costa-rica/.

Karl also cites our archives
Hi Daniel and DC:
I believe the same beast was posted previously on WTB?; by danielj on August 5th, 2008. It was subsequently identified by Dr. Bruno Kneubühler as a Phasmid, specifically “…a nymph (young one) of Trychopeplus sp. (most probably Trychopeplus laciniatus)”. I am quite envious of anyone that manages to find one of these; I keep searching but haven’t found one yet.  Regards. K

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Signature: Cate Newton