From the monthly archives: "February 2011"

Mystery insect
Location: NorthWest England
February 5, 2011 9:14 am
For the past 2 summers I have had a mystery pest attack my foxgloves, crocosmia and snapdragons and they are slowing spreading to more parts of the garden. They can fly and they move very quickly when disturbed. I’ve looked on lots of pest identifying websites but can’t find out what they are.
Signature: Charlotte Haynes

Plant Bug

Hi Charlotte,
These are Plant Bugs in the family Miridae.  Once we did a web search with the family and your location, we quickly identified your particular Plant Bugs as
Grypocoris stysi on the British Bugs website which states:  “The adults and larvae feed on both flower heads as well as small invertebrates such as aphids.”  Foxgloves are not listed as a food plant which are listed as “nettles in woodland, and sometimes umbellifers and white bryony.

Hi Daniel
That’s great. I was spending ages looking through pictures trying to figure out what they were.
Many thanks

wasp and paralyzed spider
Location: Hyannis Massachusetts
February 4, 2011 10:09 pm
Hi guys, I saw these two locked in combat one summer day in Hyannis, Massachusetts and ran for my camera. By the time I got back it was all over and the wasp had won. In this picture she is dragging the spider to the hole she dug after paralyzing it. I’d like to know the official ID of each of them, especially the spider.
Signature: any

Blue Black Spider Wasp and Orbweaver

Hi any,
We believe your wasp is a Blue Black Spider Wasp in the genus
Anoplius based on information on BugGuide which indicates:  “Larvae are provisioned with wolf spiders, funnel web spiders. Many are generalists and will provision with nearly every common family of spider found in North America.”  That information is interesting, because Orbweavers are atypical prey.  We believe the spider is a Giant Lichen Orbweaver, Araneus bicentenarius, based upon photos on BugGuide.

Correction:  September 2, 2013
Thanks to a comment from Nick identifying this as
Episyron biguttatus, we can provide a link to the species page on BugGuide which has photos, and the genus page on BugGuide which has information including:  “Adults capture orb weavers (Araneidae) (1) to provision their nests. Adults also frequent flowers, especially males” and “Females are fossorial and as stated above provision only with Araneid spiders. They have several generations per year.”

Location: Crete, Greece
February 4, 2011 6:42 am
I hope that you may be able to ID this ’creature’ for me. It is very much like a spider, but moves very slowly. When touched it ’plays dead’ and goes rigid for about 10 minutes, whereupon it will start to move again. It varies in size, anything from 1/4” long to 1” long. I found it in the bottom of my empty swimming pool (obviously fell in/was blown in) in Crete, Greece.
Signature: no problem

Cretan Creatures are Harvestmen

Hi Carol,
We opened your email just prior to leaving for a long long day at work yesterday, and we didn’t have the time to post.  We did not crop into your images because we wanted to protect the integrity of your post-production enhancements.  We are very puzzled by these creatures, and they seem to resemble Ticks.  We are hoping to get some professional assistance with your identification request.

Cretan Creatures in the order Opiliones

You can compare your creatures to photos of Ticks online, including the photos on this Texas Cooperative Extension website.

Cretan Creatures are Harvestmen

Hi, Daniel.
Many thanks for your quick response.  I looked at the Texas Co-operative Extension website, and would agree that they do rather resemble ticks, but I didn’t know that ticks were as large as these, some I have found with bodies as long as 1″.
I shall be most interested to hear further from you with hopefully a guranteed identification.
Many thanks for your help with this matter.

Entomologist Julian Donahue provides input
Hi Daniel,
They’re clearly arachnids. At first, I thought that they might be in the order Ricinulei (“tick spiders”) because of the hood-like structure at the anterior end, but the body shape and legs appear to be all wrong.
Although the mouthparts aren’t visible in the photo, my best guess is that they are unengorged ticks, based upon the body shape and the long legs.
Julian P. Donahue

Ed. Note: Thanks to a comment from Mirta in Patagonia, we now know that these unusual creatures are actually Harvestmen in the order Opiliones.  Here is a photo on Nature Photo and some images on the Natura Mediterraneo website as well.  Though we shy away from linking to Wikipedia, we did find this information there:  “The Trogulidae are a family of harvestmen with about 45 known species.  Members of this species have short legs and live in soil. They have dirt attached to their bodies, to escape predators. Their body length ranges from 2 to 22 mm. The body is in most genera somewhat flattened and leathery. Adults have a small hood, which hides their short chelicerae and pedipalps.

Many thanks to everyone for their help in identifying these creatures, I really appreciate your trouble.  If I find anything else I can’t ID, which is highly likely, then I know where to come!

moth, fly, or moth fly
Location: Washington State
February 3, 2011 2:23 pm
Found these larvae in my toilet bowl. I flushed and more appeared. I looked in the tank and found that the tank had been retrofitted with a plastic eco insert. In the main tank there was about 1/4” of stagnant water because the water was being diverted into the insert. I think that a fly or moth laid eggs in the stagnant water and then somehow the larvae moved into the plastic insert and with every flush some get sucked from the insert into the bowl. Because I don’t know how the retrofit works, I haven’t taken it apart to check.
Signature: Amsuncow

Moth Fly Pupa

Dear Amsuncow,
We actually believe this is a pupa and not a larva, and your supposition that it might be a Moth Fly in the subfamily Psychodinae is probably correct, though your images look different from the stages of the Filter Fly,
Clogmia albipunctata, that are pictured on BugGuide.  Your individual is more elongated than the this image of a Filter Fly Pupa from BugGuide, however, there are other members of the subfamily that have a similar habitat.  BugGuide also provides this information on the subfamily:  “Larva: eyeless and legless; head darker and narrower than body; each segment with one or more dark rectangular bands dorsally; terminal segment narrows, forming dark-colored breathing tube  Pupa: resembles minute grain of brown rice” and “Adults often found around sewage installations, in public washrooms, and bathrooms in homes, and are attracted to light; larvae live in organic sludge that forms on inner surfaces of drains and sewage pipes; pupae occur on the surface of the organic film that the larvae have been living in.”  Finally, BugGuide has this information on the life cycle of Moth Flies:  “In the home, females lay irregular masses of 30-200 eggs in the organic gelatinous film lining drains, particularly in bathtubs and showers; eggs hatch 32-48 hours after being laid, when ambient temperatures are 70ºF (about 20ºC), and larvae pupate 9-15 days later; pupa stage lasts 20-40 hours; development time from egg to adult is 7-28 days, depending on temperature and food availability; adults live for about two weeks.”  Since the Moth Fly Pupa are on the surface, they are easily transferred from the eco insert to the tank and bowl during the flushing process.  The appearance of Moth Flies in otherwise sanitary bathrooms might be due to poorly engineered, but well intentioned methods for water conservation.  Thank you so much for sending your letter and excellent photographs.

Moth Fly Pupa

They are taking over my pretty farm house
Location: Southern Indiana
February 3, 2011 12:30 pm
Could someone please help me ID this menance to my newly refurbished farm house? They are all over the walls and especially the windows on the south walls of my house. They are staying downstairs but ladybugs are upstairs and on the west enclosed porch. I knew about the ladybugs and will have to deal with those but this is bigger and ugly. I hessitate in inviting people over for fear they will think Im a poor mother and wife allowing these to cohabitate with us.
Signature: Disheartened mommy

Boxelder Bug

Dear Disheartened mommy,
No amount of post production sharpening in photoshop is going to help your blurry photo, but there are still enough details for us to identify your Boxelder Bug thanks to your excellent description, though ugly is not a word we would use.  Boxelder Bugs are harmless creatures that hibernate over the winter.  When your farm house was refurbished, the contractor must not have adequately sealed and weatherstripped.  You need to find the point of entry and seal it off.  The Ladybugs are probably entering the home the same way.

What Bug Is This? It Bit Me Last Night.
Location: New South Wales, Australia
February 3, 2011 6:05 pm
Hi, was laying in bed last night and felt a sharp pain in the back of my thigh and grabbed this bug off me… I have no idea what it is. It left a nice puncture mark and came up in a big welt. Just curious about its identity.. I’m thinking something in the Assassin Family
Signature: Regards Hannah

Assassin Bug

Hi Hannah,
You are correct that this is an Assassin Bug in the family Reduviidae, however, the photo has not been taken from the ideal angle for identification.  Your individual does not resemble the thicker bodied Assassin Bugs on the Brisbane Insect website, and it is impossible for us to determine if your individual is one of the more slender bodied Assassin Bugs pictured there.