From the monthly archives: "July 2011"

Caterpillars on the menu
Location: 200km East of Kinshasa
July 29, 2011 12:19 am
Dear Bugman,
Here in Congo there are a few species of caterpillars which are harvested, smoked and sold for food in the local markets. The ones in the photo were taken on the Bateke plateau about 200km east of Kinshasa in mid June when they are in season. Can you help us ID the species or at least the genus ? Thanks !
Signature: Nick

Kanni, or other Giant Silkworm???

Dear Nick,
We are still working on a species or genus identification for you, but we did locate an image online that looked very similar on the African Moths website.  It is the caterpillar of the Pallid Emperor,
Cirina forda, and we have found several references to the caterpillar being edible and eaten.  On the World’s Largest Saturniidae website, we learned:  “In Nigeria the larvae are picked from Sheabutter trees, are called ‘Kanni’, and are widely eaten after being boiled and sun dried. In the Congo the larvae are eaten in “Vegetable Soup”, a valuable human food source.”  We also located this pdf of a technical paper entitled The Protein Quality of Cirina forda …  Caterpillar. We are not confident that the identification is correct, and we are contacting Bill Oehlke to see if he can provide any information.  We will copy him on this response as well.

Bill Oehlke responds
They are either Cirina forda or one of the Imbrasia or Gonimbrasia species. I am pretty sure they are Cirina forda
Bill Oehlke

Request from David Gracer
Hi Daniel,
I’d be most grateful if you’d be willing to either send me Nick’s email or forward this inquiry to Nick, who’d submitted the image from Congo.  I’d love to learn what he’s been seeing and if his interest is research-based.  In any case I’m starting to draw material for the next issue of the Food Insects Newsletter and if Nick would be willing to share his images and notes I think that the community of people involved would be most appreciative.  Data on this kind of food resource is always scant at best.
Thanks a lot,

Thanks much for the information on the caterpillars.
I would be happy to help with images and research.  I am actually an Oceanographer by training and amateur naturalist.  I am located in Kinshasa and have work sites in Bandundu where the caterpillar pictures were taken.  As a Peace Corps Volunteer in the late 80’s in Bandundu, smoked caterpillars were the most affordable animal protein available to us on our modest stipends.  On our last trip to Bukanga Lonzo, last month,  we stayed at the mission there and the good fathers there prepared a nice dish of caterpillars and stewed cassava greens.  Do tell me what kind of data you need and I will try to get it here in Kinshasa and if not too late, in september-october when I plan to go back to Bandundu to monitor our programs there.

Mr. T
Location: Black Hawk, CO
July 28, 2011 9:22 pm
I discovered this guy on my wall this evening. I’m thinking something in the Diptera order, but am curious as to what it might be! FYI, we live in the mountains of Colorado, at about 9000ft.
Signature: Jackie

Plume Moth

Hi Jackie,
You were probably confused by what appears to be only two wings.  This is actually Lepidoptera, and it is commonly called a Plume Moth, though our readers frequently submit queries that refer to it as a T-Bug.

What is it?
Location: Elliston, Newfoundland, Canada
July 28, 2011 3:03 pm
Saw this guy in Elliston, Newfoundland. It was rather big and menacing. About 1” in length. I’ve attached a couple of photos.
Signature: Todd from St. John’s

Elm Sawfly

Hi Todd,
This is the Elm Sawfly,
Cimbex americana, the largest North American Sawfly.  Sawflies are nonstinging relatives of wasps and bees, and the larvae of Sawflies are frequently mistaken for caterpillars.  We needed to crop your photo to maximize the size of the insect on our website, and in doing so, we needed to move your photo credit on the image.

Please help identify this bug
Location: Allenhurst, New Jersey USA
July 28, 2011 5:50 pm
My sister took a picture of this bug on the screen at her work and it has us all baffled as to what it is. It kinda looks lke a dragon and a spider combined. Any help and/or information would be very much appreciated.
Look forward to hearing back from you.
Signature: Michelle

Spotted Apatelodes

Hi Michelle,
The silhouette of the Spotted Apatelodes,
Apatelodes torrefacta, is very distinctive.  Though it is actually a Silkmoth, it is frequently mistaken for one of the Sphinx Moths.  You can find more information on the Spotted Apatelodes on BugGuide.

Bug identification
Location: chicago suburbs
July 28, 2011 3:41 pm
We live in the far western suburbs of Chicago (about a mile away is ”country”). This bug has been hanging out by our back (patio) door on and off for a week now. It is annoying. Does it sting or bite? What else can you tell me about it?
He is about as long as the diameter of a quarter. His legs are pretty thick and have ”hairs” on them. He kinda ”dances” around the door, but lands for brief times. He reminds me of something in the bee/hornet family, but I don’t see a stinger (by his coloring and the way he files).
Signature: Molly

Hanging Thief

Hi Molly,
This is a Hanging Thief, a genus of Robber Flies.  Other than it “hanging out” you didn’t indicate what it does that is so annoying.  Hanging Thieves are not an aggressive group, however, we acknowledge that they could probably bite a person if they were carelessly handled, an encounter you can avoid by simply ignoring them.  Hanging Thieves are predators and they catch flying insects to feed upon. 

what is this bug?
Location: El Paso, TX
July 28, 2011 4:13 pm
Saw this giant bug outside our home a few weeks ago. It was at least 3 maybe 4 inches long or so, approximately.
Signature: alias

Western Cicada Killer

Dear alias,
WE wish your photo had more detail, but this sure looks like a Western Cicada Killer,
Sphecius grandis, to us.  Though BugGuide does not list any sightings from Texas, the listed range of the Western Cicada Killer includes Texas.