From the monthly archives: "May 2011"

Ed. Note:
May 29, 2011
Though this letter was submitted nearly a year ago, we discussed with Frederique Lavoipierre the possibility of making the Tachinid Fly the featured Bug of the Month for June 2011.

What is this bug?
Location:  Cloudcroft Observatory, New Mexico.
September 10, 2010 4:11 pm
Hello. I was curious about a bug I saw in the mountains at Cloudcroft, New Mexico. This bug was found at the Cloudcroft Observatory. It seemed a lot like a bee because it buzzed, but it looked totally different than one.
This bug was seen in August, 2010.
Thank you!

Tachinid Fly

Hi Carly,
The color palette of your photograph is so beautiful.  This is a Tachinid Fly, probably
Adejeania vexatrix based on images posted to BugGuide.  Adult Tachinid Flies take nectar from flowers, but immature larvae are endoparasites on a variety of insects and arthropods, often limiting themselves to a single species.



Tachinid Fly

Bug of the Month
May 29, 2011
We are taking this opportunity to make our readership aware of the beneficial flies in the family Tachinidae by linking to the BugGuide information page on the family.  We are also providing a link to the Pacific Horticulture website and the online article on Tachinid Flies submitted by Frédérique Lavoipierre, Garden Ecologist. Here is an excerpt from that article: “Tachinids are the most diverse family of Diptera (true flies), and help control many pests; of the parasitic insects, only parasitoid wasps are of greater importance. All of the known species of tachinids are parasitoids: they deposit their eggs on or near host arthropods, and the larvae parasitize the host, in most cases resulting in the victim’s death. Parasitoids (as opposed to parasites) are free-living as adults; many of the common garden tachinids are flower visitors, feeding on nectar and pollen as adults. Tachinids parasitize a broad range of hosts from several orders of insects, among them Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), Coleoptera (beetles, especially scarabs and leaf beetles), and Orthoptera (grasshoppers and crickets). In the Hymenoptera (wasps, bees, and ants), they specialize on sawflies, a common herbivorous pest. They are also known to attack a few other arthropods besides insects, particularly centipedes.”

Update: June 29, 2011
Hi Daniel,
Took me a bit longer than I thought to wrap up my thesis, and someone in the department just pointed out the tachinid ‘bug of the month’ to me yesterday. At any rate, it was very cool to see tachinids in a starring role!

not sure what this bug is!
Location: Mansfield, TX
May 27, 2011 2:19 pm
I live in Mansfield tx and I was on the play ground with my class when I saw this bug! It was pretty big & I have no idea what it is or if it’s dangerous.
Signature: thanks so much!

Cottonwood Borer

The mandibles of the Cottonwood Borer are quite strong, and it is possible that they might deliver a painful nip if the insect is carelessly handled, but the Cottonwood Borer is not considered to be dangerous.

round red and black beetle
Location: Northeast Illinois
May 29, 2011 9:32 pm
Hello. I saw this beetle on my butterfly weed at dusk. It was very shiny, round, highly domed, and larger than a normal ladybug – maybe half an inch across.
Can you ID it? Thanks!
Signature: Clare

Swamp Milkweed Beetle

Hi Clare,
WE are guessing that the plant you are calling “butterfly weed” is actually a species of Milkweed because this is a Swamp Milkweed Beetle,
Labidomera clivicollis.  The caterpillars of the Monarch Butterfly feed on Milkweed and the flowers attract numerous species of butterflies.  Many of the insects that feed on milkweed have aposomatic warning coloration (black and red) as feeding on milkweed either makes them distasteful or possibly toxic to predators.

help with ID
Location: southern California
May 30, 2011 1:08 pm
I found this bug living on a plant called lochroma in my yard. I don’t remember seeing this bug before. They are grouped up on the stems of the plant and where the stems branch out. There is a steady steam of ants coming and going to the clusters of this bug. I sprayed with neem oil yesterday but they look fine and healthy today.
Signature: Scott

Keelbacked Treehopper Nymphs

Hi Scott,
Our suspicions that you have an infestation of Keel Backed Treehopper nymphs,
Antianthe expansa, was confirmed when we substantiated that your plant, lochroma, is a member of the family Solanaceae which contains tomato, pepper and eggplant.  We have periodical infestations on our tomato plants in Los Angeles, especially plants that have overwintered.  Adult Keelbacked Treehoppers are bright green.  There is some good information on this Backyard Garden page.  The ants are attracted to the honeydew produced by the Treehopper nymphs.

Keelbacked Treehopper Nymph

Silk worm moths
Location: Sherman, CT
May 30, 2011 2:01 pm
We just found both of these in our yard in CT. Both silkworm moths, we think a polyphemus and a prometheus–any thoughts. Both about 5” wing span.
Signature: Dee Ratterree

Female Prometheus Moth

Hi Dee,
We agree with both of your identifications.  The Prometheus Moth is a female.  The sexually dimorphic males are smaller and have very dark coloration.  The Polyphemus Moth is also a female.  The antennae of the male are much more developed.

Polyphemus Moth

Cottonwood Borer??
Location: Catskill, NY
May 30, 2011 9:59 pm
I Was A Bit Confused When I Seen This Bug…2 People Told Me It Was A Stink Bug, But I Didn’t Know What That Was! So I Just Looked Up Info On Here, And The Closest I Came To Was The Cottonwood Borer. Im Always So Curious About Types Of Bugs! Thanks So Much
Signature: Lorrie C.

Whitespotted Sawyer

Hi Lorrie,
You had the right family, but the wrong species.  Both the Cottonwood Borer and your insect, the Whitespotted Sawyer,
Monochamus scutellatus, belong in the Longhorned Borer family Cerambycidae.