From the monthly archives: "July 2011"

green & chrome spider
Location: New Jersey
July 1, 2011 4:45 pm
Just curious to know exactly what kind of spider this is? Found it in the garage today and thought it was odd since I lived in this area for 40+ years and never saw one like it. Color is hard to see in pix but the sliver part is highly reflective almost like a mirror and the green is day-glow neon. Built a 2 foot diameter web overnight and it wasn’t in my way so I left it alone. I know bright colors in nature means toxic or deadly to predators so what is this guy packing?
Signature: Mike

Orchard Spider

Hi Mike,
This beautiful spider is an Orchard Spider,
Leucauge venusta.  Many individuals also have bright orange spots.

Hello Daniel,
Thanks!  I don’t believe in killing stuff and I leave them where I find them; he’s made himself  a nice home in the garage and that’s where I’ll leave him.  Thing is though, I use the garage as my shop daily and didn’t want to leave something potentially hazardous in there.  I always say everyone needs a home & everyone’s got to eat so we welcome all who find their way here.  You should see the looks I get when I show people the bee houses and bat boxes we installed, but after they overcome their misguided fears (and watch me pet the bumblebees on their backs) they leave with a new found respect for things.
This isn’t my first time on your site; a few years ago you identified 7 spotted beetle larvae for me which we now anxiously await thier return to our foundation walls every April.  When they first appeared, I emailed pix to an exterminator to identify them and he said “I dont know what it is but I’ll kill them for you.”  That’s when I found your site and I called him back to let him know they were beneficial.  Good thing I found your site because after they turned into Ladybugs, our aphid problem disappeared.  Before the beetles arrived for the first time, we spent hundreds of dollars a year to rid the aphids and they still were a serious pest killing many of our plants each season.
Keep up the good work!  The knowledge you share really makes a difference!
Thanks Again,

Thanks for the update Mike.  It is nice to know we have been helpful.

Got woken up with a bite from this guy!! Location: Brampton, Ontario Canada July 1, 2011 11:02 am Hello bugman!! I was trying to get some sleep today and as i rolled over i lept out of bed from something stinging or biting me on the back of my thigh! I felt a pain and as i reached (very quickly) to grab the back of my leg where the pain was i felt there was something there! It was this little guy, he must have been rapped up in my blanket, i just did laundry fresh sheets, douvet cover everything fresh, no mess anywhere but i do live in a basement appartment. The blanket i was using was just off to the side, and i was ontop of my douvet wrapped up in the blanket. So grabbed my leg felt him there, freaked out he crawled outta the blanket, i pushed him on the carpet and dropped a cup on him. scooped him up and took pics, looks like he has a stinger on his bum, i possibley squished him with the ball-point of a pen when looking at him, deffenetly a stinger or something real hard on the bum of him. Anyways theres a gouge out of my leg where he got me, and i think i may h ave scratched the heck out of myself while freaking out! but just wanna know what kind of bug he is and why he was in my bed! Signature: Yours truely…. Exausted but too creeped out to sleep

Masked Hunter Unmasked

Dear Exhausted …,
This is an immature Assassin Bug, and though some species of Assassin Bugs are blood suckers, there are not many and this is not one of them.  Many Assassin Bugs will bite a human if provoked or carelessly handled, and it would seem that coming into contact with you between the sheets could constitute careless handling.  We believe this is an immature Masked Hunter,
Reduvius personatus, and the species gets its common name because the sticky surface of the insect attracts all manner of dust which effectively camouflages it in its surroundings, masking it from detection.  Your individual might be newly molted as it does not appear to have any dust or debris attached to it.  It does match this individual on BugGuide.  Masked Hunters are known to hunt Bed Bugs, so they should be considered as beneficial insects.

Masked Hunter Unmasked

Not Carpenter Bees?

Giant Resin Bee

Location: Northeast Georgia mountains
July 1, 2011 2:29 pm
A group of 10 or 11 of these burrowing bees-wasps-hornets-flies hangs around a wooden bench made from a cayuco, which, in the Republic of Panama, is made from a hollowed-out tree. I brought this bench with me when I moved from Panama to the mountains of northeast Georgia. I even captured 3 groups of 3 of these guys and released them at different locations between 1 and a half and 2 miles from my porch where this bench sits. That left 2 that I know of. Within 3 hours, 10 or 11 of them were buzzing around again. I believe the captives had found their way back and rejoined the group. Huh? Although they’ve made holes similar to those of the female carpenter bees, from my research I don’t believe they are–these are too social and carpenter bees don’t have the ”smiley face” characteristic that you can see in one of the images. Besides, I have carpenter bees on my property and they don’t look like them. They’re not aggressive, as I& #8217;ve sat among them–even bumping them–without getting stung; assuming they have stingers. I could easily kill them, but I don’t do that. I was tempted to sacrifice just one to determine if it had a stinger, but I couldn’t even bring myself to do that. (No, I’m not going to capture one and hold it in my closed fist just to see if it’ll sting me.) I’m really baffled; haven’t found an image that even closely resembles them. Obviously, I’m missing something. I know someone’s thinking that I unknowingly ”smuggled” them as larva inside the bench when I left Panama. I left there 12 years ago, and these showed up only 3 years ago. Please help. Thank you.
Signature: Rob Lane

Giant Resin Bee

Hi Rob,
The first thing we have to say is that your action photos are spectacular.  Though the Giant Resin Bee,
Megachile sculpturalis, is an introduced exotic species, you had nothing to do with its importation.  The Giant Resin Bees were introduced from Asia and they are now very well established in North America.  BugGuide indicates:  “They are opportunistic and nest in existing wooden cavities, rather than excavating their own. Effectively pollinate kudzu, another invasive species.”


Giant Resin Bees

Thank you, Daniel, for that rapid response. Had I seen any image like the ones in BugGuide (the link you provided) I’d’ve instantly recognized it. Although I said it, I didn’t mean that they actually “made” the holes like the carpenter bees do. This piece of cayuco was riddled with holes, and I did observe the “plugs” in their entrances near the end of their season.  Do you think that those nine I captured and released actually found their way back?
Oh, and thank you for the comment on the action photos. I credit them to my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ40 set at 1/160 shutter speed with flash.
Although I said that a cayuco is made from a hollowed-out tree, I failed to mention that it’s a boat (like a dugout canoe).
For your interest I’ve included a few more images focusing on the wood of the cayuco:
This is stem of the boat; the flat part on the very bow. That hole at the upper right is cut completely through and is where the boatman would tie his anchor line. You can see traces of the resin, mud, or clay at the center of the stem.

Resin Bee Nest

Hi Again Rob,
We believe the Giant Resin Bees may have found their way back, but we cannot be certain.


Bright Red Impostor!
Location: Northern Illinois
July 1, 2011 2:52 pm
Hi there! I was out in my garden collecting insects for a collection I’m making for an Entomology class. While capturing wasps and bees (a nervous business, to say the least) I happened upon this bright red beetle in the gravel. It looks uncannily like a Lily Leaf Beetle, but its head is entirely red and it seems to have pincher-like mouthparts instead of a tube. It also resembles an orange blister beetles, but its legs are entirely black, and its wing sheaths are entirely red. I’ve looked through my field guide as well as BugGuide, but I can’t seem to identify this Lily Leaf Beetle impostor. Do you have any idea what it is? I could wait three months to find out from my professor, but it’s driving me crazy not knowing, when I’ve already identified all of the other insects in my collection.
I’ll understand if you consider this doing my homework. I’m just burning with curiosity and I can’t seem to find a match for this little enigma.
(By the way, my copy of The Curious World of Bugs came in the mail a few days ago, and it’s absolutely charming.)
Signature: Entomologist in Training

Blister Beetle

Dear Entomologist in Training,
We found your letter to be totally charming, and we had already decided to assist you in your homework project (apparently not due for months) because of your sincerity.  We made that decision before even reading that you are enjoying Daniel’s book.  We agree with your assessment of this unidentified creature, though we are quite certain it is a Leaf Beetle in the family Chrysomelidae.  Those long rear legs indicate it could well be a Flea Beetle, and although the coloration on your specimen is a bit redder, your beetle really does resemble
Parchicola tibialis, which we found on BugGuide.  The date page even places it in Illinois.  Another possibility is that it may be in the Tribe Lemiini which is represented on BugGuide by many red species, though they seem to all have black spots.  We will check with Eric Eaton to see if he has any thoughts.

Eric Eaton makes a Correction
Well, this isn’t a leaf beetle.  It is a blister beetle, specifically this one:
The unstriped form is rather uncommon I suspect.

Updated Correction: July 3, 2011
Hi, Daniel:
Art knows beetles better than I do and he has corrected my initial identification of the all-red “leaf beetle” image that you sent me earlier this week.

Sunday, July 3, 2011, 6:46 AM
I was on the Facebook page for “What’” when I noticed an entry for a bright red blister beetle misidentified as a leaf beetle. It peaked my curiosity and I identified it as Rhyphonemognatha rufa <>. According to Enns (1956), this species ranges from Illinois to central Texas, west to Nebraska, Kansas, New Mexico, and southeastern Arizona. I posted a comment to this effect on the FB page and then took the liberty of identifying/commenting on a few recent insect photos that people had submitted for ID. After a couple of days it dawned on me that the folks at WTB don’t identify or comment on images submitted to the FB page. The fine print on the info page clearly directs people to the submit images on the web site, but I doubt that a lot of people are aware of this when they post photos for ID.
I don’t know the folks at WTB, but thought I would drop them a note with my observations. I was unable to log on to the WTB web site directly (my fault, not theirs!) and saw that you had taken a stab at the blister beetle, too! I know that you have a relationship with them and wondered if you would be so kind to pass this email along just as an FYI.
… Cheers, ART
Arthur V. Evans, D.Sc.
Research Associate:  Department of Entomology, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

Giant beetle thing
Location: Southern California, summer
July 1, 2011 2:18 pm
This bug was flying around at night and you could hear it in the distance and getting closer, it landed and it had a dark, black striated shell and a reddish orange underbelly. It was over an inch long easily and after I threw boiling water on it and a glass of bleach it was still alive. It looks kind of like the broad necked root boarer on here but I would like to know for sure. Because it was the grossest thing I have ever seen and am hoping to not see another one.
Signature: Sara

California Root Borer Carnage

Hi Sara,
Your dead beetle is related to the Broad Necked Root Borer.  It is the California Root Borer and your individual is a female.  Grossness should not be considered a criterion for killing a creature, so we have to consider this posting as an example of Unnecessary Carnage and today is turning out to be a carnage heavy day.

11 Monarchs in a row
Location: Naperville, IL
July 1, 2011 12:16 pm
Dear Daniel~
I wanted to show you this photo for the sheer fun of it. I raise Monarch butterflies each summer – mainly by collecting the eggs that female Monarchs lay on the milkweed I grow in my own yard. Last summer, we released over 200 butterflies with a very small mortality/sickness rate – about 5%. On the days that we have butterflies eclose, I like to pose them for photos on flora around my yard. They will typically ”hang out” for a few hours after drying their wings, allowing me to get some fun shots. One day last summer (July 2010), we had 11 adults eclose on the same morning, and knowing that I couldn’t possibly place them all on one flower, we got the idea to place them on a string tied between two chairs. (We do this anyway on the odd occasion that a newly-eclosed butterfly loses grip on its chrysalis and falls). Eventually, of course, they all flew away, but they remained on the line like this for quite a while. My condolences on the p assing of Lefty. Best regards,
Signature: Dori Eldridge

Monarchs On Line

Hi again Dori,
Thanks so much for sending this charming documentation.