From the monthly archives: "May 2011"

oak apple gall
Location: Tampa, Florida
May 1, 2011 10:51 am
Hey, just thought you might think this was a cool pic I took…
Signature: Melody

Interior of Oak Apple Gall

Hi Melody,
Thanks so much for contributing your photo of the interior of an Oak Apple Gall, revealing the larval wasp in the genus
Amphibolips inside.  Gall Wasps in the family Cynipidae are a fascinatingly diverse group that was studied in depth by Alfred Kinsey.  The Gall itself is a growth on a plant that may be produced by a variety of sources.  Gall Wasps produce growths on leaves, stems and roots though each species forms a distinctive Gall.  The larva then feeds on the tissue produced in the Gall.  It is currently accepted that the Galls do not harm the plant.  You can see other photos of Oak Apple Galls on BugGuide.

strange caterpillar in Waxahachie, Texas
Location: Waxahachie, Texas
May 1, 2011 10:15 am
I saw this strange caterpillar crawling on a bench in Waxahachie, Texas. It looked like it had a face of a cartoon frog with eyes. My son commented that it had ”eye antennas”. It looked a little like a Chinese dragon as well. What is this thing?
Signature: Stacey R.

Tawny Emperor Caterpillar

Hi Stacey,
This caterpillar with metamorphose into one of the Emperor Butterflies in the genus
Asterocampa.  We believe, based on this image from BugGuide, that your caterpillar is a Tawny Emperor Caterpillar, Asterocampa clyton, though the other members of the genus have similar looking caterpillars.

Thanks, you are amazing!

What is this?
Location: Santa Barbara, California
April 30, 2011 8:38 pm
This insect was on a poppy in my garden in Santa Barbara, California, USA. Do you know what it is?
Signature: Joan

Bush Katydid Nymph

Hi Joan,
This is a very young nymph of one of the Bush Katydids in the genus
Scudderia, most likely the Fork Tailed Bush Katydid, Scudderia furcata.  You can compare your image to this photo from BugGuide.  The striped antennae of the nymphs are quite distinctive and adults are green, well camouflaged insects that resemble Grasshoppers but with long antennae.  General information on the genus can be found on bugGuide.  Katydids feed on foliage and flowers, but they are generally not plentiful enough to do major damage.  In our own Southern California garden, adults have a fondness for eating the petals on red roses, and we tolerate this since one of the reasons we plant flowers is to attract insects.

Flying Bug on Yarrow
Location: Austin, TX
April 30, 2011 6:59 pm
This bug was found at the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, TX – I believe the flower that it’s visiting is called yarrow. Taken on April 26, 2011.
Signature: Jennifer H

Tarantula Hawk

Hi Jennifer,
Ladybird is our favorite first lady because of her campaign to beautify America by planting trees and shrubs.  This magnificent Spider Wasp is a Tarantula Hawk, a member of several genera that hunt Tarantulas to feed to their young.  The female Tarantula locates a Tarantula and stings it which paralyzes the Tarantula, but does not kill it.  The female Tarantula Hawk then buries the spider after laying an egg.  The larva of the wasp then feeds on the living but paralyzed Tarantula which ensures the meat is fresh.  The vital organs are eaten last.  The sting of a Tarantula Hawk is reported to be quite painful.  Only the female stings.  These large distinctive wasps, generally with black bodies and red wings, are frequently seen taking nectar from flowers including milkweed.  You can find more information about Tarantula Hawks on BugGuide.

Location: Oklahoma
April 30, 2011 8:31 pm
This GINORMOUS moth is sitting on the edge of our house! Do you know what kind it is?
Signature: Elizabeth

Luna Moth

Hi Elizabeth,
At the end of February, we received our first report this season of a Luna Moth sighting, and the letter indicated there was a swarm in Texas.  That prompted us to name the Luna Moth the Bug of the Month for March.  Other reports followed from the southern most portion of the range of the Luna Moth.  As the weather warms in the northern climes, Luna Moth sightings will begin to come to us, generally culminating in reports from Maine and Canada in May and June.  Sightings from later in the season will then come from the southern portion of the range as there are two broods in the South.  It is highly unlikely that the Luna Moth would be confused with any other North American species.

strange bug of course
Location: tampa florida USA
April 30, 2011 1:33 pm
This guy flew into our office building… Is he a nymph of something? Also throwing in another bug I would like to know what it is….
Signature: melody

Oak Treehopper

Hi Melody,
A nymph is an immature insect, and though some nymphs have wing pads that get larger with each molt, only adult insects have fully formed wings and are capable of flight.  This is an adult Oak Treehopper, a somewhat variable species, though your individual matches this image on BugGuide.  Your other insect is a Robber Fly.