From the monthly archives: "February 2011"

House centipede
Well hello again, bugman!
This email isn’t an insect submission or question; instead it’s a “what the heck?” at a severely misinformed person profiting by telling lies of helpful hunter insects.
I stumbled across this website (linked below) while looking up insects with my wife. I should warn you, there is a rather graphic image on the homepage of what is actually a Brown Recluse spider bite, not a House Centipede bite as the website claims.
It seems as though this website aims to spread false information about House Centipedes, and then sells literature, ideas, etc. on how to exterminate them from your home.
I sent an email to, in hopes to inform her of the farce of the website. I made sure to include some of the information I learned from your (wonderful!) website to try to educate her. Would you care to kindly do the same?

WAIT, WAIT…my mistake. Jill is NOT affiliated with the first website I linked…
Still though, BOTH websites are misinformed on house centipedes! Why?
Kyle Church

House Centipede photo from our archives

Dear Kyle,
Thank you for alerting us to this website that has falsely accused the beneficial House Centipede of being a “blood thirsty freak
.”  While we have nothing against entrepreneurial endeavors, we would like to caution the web browsing public that there are many sensationalistic statements on the internet that are published in an opinionated form, hence they are protected by the First Amendment and the right of Freedom of Speech.

Infestation of caterpillars

Unknown Caterpillars

Infestation of caterpillars
Location: hawaii, big island
February 27, 2011 6:52 pm
Help…i live in hawaii, and in the 7 years i have been there i have never seen anything like these caterpillars…there seems to be a fe different types, none of which i can identify, but they are everywhere, even inside! what do i do, what are they
Signature: ryan Williamson

Unknown Caterpillars

Dear Ryan,
Alas, your photos are quite blurry, but we believe there is a resemblance between your caterpillars and the members of the subfamily Erebinae, which includes the Underwings.  You can see some of these North American species of Moths on BugGuide.  Many endemic species on Hawaii are being displaced by opportunistic invasive exotic species, and it is entirely possible that these caterpillars have been introduced.  Often populations of insects peak during certain years, and it is also possible that this is a native species that has suddenly experienced a population explosion due to ideal conditions.  Knowing the plant that they are feeding upon may help with the identification.

Unknown Caterpillar Outbreak

thanks for your response…i can tell you they are eating (almost exclusivly) what we call “Christmas berry” trees, or “brazilian Pepper”, or “Florida holly”….i heard the trees called all of these names…its a sappy tree, with red pepper corn berries, white blossoms, and an invasive tree itself. There are hundreds of acres of this tree where i live….They(caterpillars) do not like oleander, but are eating orchids as well….hope this helps to identify them better…there seems to be a few different types of caterpillars, but they may be different aged or something….any ideas what to do to get rid of them?

Funny KNP Bug
Location: Kruger National Park, Southern area
February 27, 2011 4:35 am
Good Day,
We were in KNP on 19/02/2011, driving on the Pabeni road towards skukuza when this fellow appeared in the car. I only had a few seconds and manage to get two makro shot before it rushed off. THus far no one can tell me what it is.
Please help.
Signature: Marius Smit

Immature True Bug

Hi Marius,
We needed to first research the location of Kruger National Park, which we now know is in South Africa.  This is an immature True Bug in the suborder Heteroptera, but beyond that, we haven’t a clue.  Often the immature stages of an insect’s life cycle are not well documented, and many times, especially with regards to insects in remote locations, the immature stages are completely unknown to science.  Hopefully we or our readership will have some luck trying to research what species this immature nymph belongs to.

Immature True Bug

Luna Moth – Huffman, TX

Luna Moth

Luna Moth – Huffman, TX
Location: Huffman, TX
February 28, 2011 9:49 am
Good morning! When I arrived at our warehouse this morning, there were a few dozen of these moths on the north exterior wall. Our warehouse is located in Huffman, TX, which is on the Northeast side of the greater Houston metro area. After searching, they appear to be Luna Moths, but I have never seen them before. We have had relatively dry weather as of late, and these pictures were taken around 8:00 a.m. on Monday, February 28th. They also appear to be quite lethargic. Are they spawning now?
Signature: Thad Fehlis

Luna Moth

Dear Thad,
We are very excited about your email for several different reasons.  First, we want to congratulate you on what must be a spectacular sight.  We imagine much of our readership as well as our editorial staff are quite envious that you witnessed dozens of Luna Moths at one time.   Since it is time for us to select a Bug of the Month for March, we cannot think of a more fitting candidate than the Luna Moth, even though it has received the honor of being Bug of the Month once before, nearly four years ago in April 2007.  Luna Moth sightings typically begin in February in the southernmost reaches of their range in Florida, and as spring progresses, sightings appear in the more northern climes, generally peaking in May for Maine and Canada.  Luna Moth adults do not feed and they have a very short lifespan.  Adults mate and lay eggs and quickly die, so if you have swarming Luna Moths, they must be spawning.  Thanks for getting our day off to a wonderful start.

Luna Moth

Thank you for the quick response.  As I’m sending you this email, two more of them just landed on my window.  Having grown up in Austin, TX, I had the good fortune of seeing the annual Monarch butterfly migration.  It’s quite a sight to see thousands of Monarchs together.  Here in Houston, the Natural Science Museum has a butterfly exhibit, which allows you to see the cocoon hatchery as well as an enormous walk through controlled environment where several species of butterfly and moth fly all around you.
Do you have a good source where I can find out what other “rare” species of moth are in this area?  We have also seen some interesting moths in the College Station are which, at first glance, we thought were hummingbirds.  Do you happen to know what these might be?  They moved very quickly, and were about the same size as the Luna.

Hi again Thad,
Though our category states that the Luna Moth is a rare species, that is not entirely true.  Some local populations, like yours, are apparently quite plentiful, though in other parts of their range, Luna Moths are quite rare.  The other moths you describe are probably Sphinx Moths in the family Sphingidae.  You can try to identify the species you saw on the Sphingidae of Texas webpage.

Update Monday February 28, 2011:  We are again able to post images.

New images currently not available due to technical difficulty.
We hope the recipe will be available for viewing soon.

We Were Cooking

Lasagna to go

Sunday, February 27, 2011
Academy Awards Sunday
The WTB? offices are on holiday today in observance of the Academy Awards.
When cleaning greens for the table, they should be inspected closely for grit and bugs.

Recipe: Lasagna sin Carne

Yellow moth
Location: Kumbia Queensland Australia
February 27, 2011 6:37 am
Hi ’Bugman’
I have been searching the net for identification of a moth I found today. I found a moth that was very similar but the markings on the wings are different and I think, so is the shape of the wings. I found it resting on the stairs of the school. Thought it was a toy one at first as it was such a bright yellow and I have seen rubber toy moths/butterflies on display recently at the local kindergarten.
Signature: E.

Gum Moth

Dear E.,
This is a Gum Moth in the genus
Opodiphthera, but we are not certain how to distinguish the different species.  The Moths of Australian Saturniidae webpage lists seven species in the genus.  The thumbnail of the Emperor Gum Moth, Opodiphthera eucalypti, looks correct, but that image is not on the Emperor Gum Moth page where all specimens seem very tan or brown. Opodiphthera astrophela, which does not have a common name, is described as “The female and male adult moths differ: The males are yellow, and the females grey. Originally they were thought to be different species. Both sexes have a brown eyespot on each wing, as well as two dark lines across each fore wing, and a curved dark line across each hind wing. They have a wingspan of about 8 cms. The species is found in the eastern quarter of Australia.”  That would explain the yellow coloration, but your moth is much larger than 8 cms.  It might also be Opodiphthera loranthiThe Csiro website shows some color variations.  Perhaps the best choice is Opodiphthera fervida which is described as  “yellow with a brown eyespot on each wing, and a brown line across each wing. The moths have a wingspan of about 8 cms.  The species is found in Queensland.”  We will contact Bill Oehlke to see if he can provide a species identification.  We are copying him on our response to you as well since he may request permission to include your photo on his website.

Bill Oehlke provides an Identification: Opodiphtera astrophela
Hi Daniel,
This moth is depicted on WLSS.  I am surprised you did not see it. Thanks for thinking of me.
This is email I just sent to E.

Hi E.,
The moth you sent to Daniel Marlos for identification is Opodiphtera astrophela. I will be sending Daniel a copy of this email.
I wish permission to post the image, credited to you, to one of my webpages. If you grant permission, please send complete name so I can credit you properly, or I can just use E.
if you wish to remain anonymous.
Very nice picture.
Bill Oehlke

Thanks so much Bill.  In my defense, I was multitasking, which is not an efficient way for me to work.  I was putting most of my attention into assembling a lasagna sin carne for an Academy Awards party in my neighborhood.  I like the quote:  “Opodiphthera astrophela, formerly Antheraea simplex, (wingspan: 16 cm) flies in the eastern quarter of Australia, Central Queensland to central New South Wales from your website with the larger wingspan that troubled me in other species descriptions.  Also in my defense, E’s lovely photo of a vitally living male specimen and the way the vivid chrome yellow colors contrast with the floral print blouse cannot be compared to the desaturated coloration of the mounted specimens.  This photograph is a stunning example of edgy composition in nature photography.  If we ever print another calendar, this image would be a strong contender.

P.S. Unnecessary Carnage: It saddens us to see this example of unnecessary carnage.  Scroll down to “Opodiphtera astrophela  Rare and endemic Australian species. Male A1, female close to perfect. Pair: €120 SOLD”.