From the monthly archives: "July 2011"

paper wasps and alien fungal spaceship?
Location: Ocean Beach, CA
July 27, 2011 6:18 pm
JULY 27, 2011
This is the 2nd year our yard is well-populated by old-bamboo-fiber-stripping lawn-level cruising maybe paper-wasps of some sort judging by looks and behavior.
Visually back-tracking them to their apparent home in a 30+ ft high mature date palm a half block away we discovered a very disconcerting structure.
We don’t know if the structure is related to the wasps or not because we can’t get up there (and frankly don’t want to without hazmat gear), but – well, you can see in the images that it’s highly coincidental.
So, omniscient entomologistas: Paper Wasps? European neo-bauhaus nest? Alien fungal growth?
ps: the city vector crew were nonplussed and apathetic, equally.
Signature: mrobertson

European Paper Wasp

Dear mrobertson,
First, though we are flattered, we make far too many identification mistakes to ever accept the superlative modifier “omniscient”.  Your wasp is in fact a European Paper Wasp,
Polistes dominula, and it matches this image on BugGuide, but as you can see from this photo on BugGuide, the nest of a paper wasp is nothing like the “thing” in the date palm, so we will address that in a different postingBugGuide notes that the European Paper Wasp is:  “An introduced species from Eurasia, often mistaken for a yellow jacket. First reported in North America by G.C. Eickwort in 1978 near Boston, Massachusetts.  There are reports of it replacing native species of wasps in some areas.”  While we acknowledge that introduced species can be beneficial with regards to insect control, when they displace native species, that seriously compromises species diversity in the local ecosystem.  For that reason, we feel we need to tag these European Paper Wasps as Invasive Exotics.

green flying bug
Location: Palm Springs, California
July 27, 2011 3:10 pm
This bug was recently seen in California, USA. It looks like an ant, but has wings. What is this please? Your help is greatly appreciated.
Signature: Val

Steel Blue Cricket Hunter

Hi Val,
This beautiful was
Chlorion aerarium, commonly called a Steel Blue Cricket Hunter.  You can see photos of living specimens on BugGuide.

Is it a fly? Bee? Beetle?
Location: NE Los Angeles
July 27, 2011 2:27 pm
My daugher and I were outside in our Eagle Rock, California backyard and this delightful bug flew past and decided to land on my shoe. After I gave my shoe a gentle shake, it flew over to a blade of grass. We are perplexed as to what exactly it is!
Signature: Loving the flying things

Bee Killer

Hi Ltft,
Our offices are in nearby Mt Washington.  This is a Robber Fly known as a Bee Killer,
Mallophora fautrix.  They are predators that catch large flying insects, including bees and wasps, while on the wing.

Bee Killer

Japanese Bugs
Location: NE Japan
July 27, 2011 6:29 am
Hi Bugman
I’ve just come back from a two week trip in Japan and as well as seeing some amazing shrines and temples I saw some pretty awesome bug life that being resident in the UK where very alien to me (like the Giant Japanese Hornet for example and a (sadly dead) Japanese Rhinoceros beetle). I’ve managed to identify most of my pics of the critters I saw but was hoping you might be able to help out with the three pics below.
Love you website by the way
Signature: Michael

Carrion Beetle Larva

Hi Michael,
This is a larva, and they can often be extremely difficult to identify to the species level.  We believe this is a Carrion Beetle Larva from the family Silphidae.  Though it is a different species, it does look rather similar to this American Carrion Beetle Larva from BugGuide.

What is this???
Location: CA
July 26, 2011 5:37 pm
Curious as to identifying this horrific bug I took pictures of…
Signature: AP

Mourning Cloak Caterpillar

Dear AP,
We can think of numerous things in the world that might be called “horrific” but the Mourning Cloak Caterpillar is not one of them.  We cannot imagine what incited you to use such strong language.  Mourning Cloaks are lovely dark purple butterflies with cream colored wing edges and tiny blue spots, and their populations seem to be high this year.  Perhaps it is related to the heavy rains in California this past season.

Location: Kentucky
July 26, 2011 5:37 pm
I have some type of hydrangea that attacks all types of bees/wasps. I would like to know exactly what type of wasps I’m dealing with. I’m attaching three pictures to help you identify both wasps. Can you help? Thanks
Signature: Carla

Great Black Wasp and Great Golden Digger Wasp

Hi Carla,
You have two different species of Thread Waisted Wasps in the genus
Sphex pollinating your hydrangeas.  The black was is a Great Black Wasp or Katydid Hunter, Sphex pensylvanicus, and the lighter individual is a Great Golden Digger Wasp, Sphex ichneumoneus.  You may read about the Great Black Wasp on BugGuide, and you may also read about the Great Golden Digger Wasp on BugGuide.  The females of both species are solitary wasps that dig a nursery that is provisioned with Katydids to feed the young.  Neither species is considered aggressive.

Great Black Wasp and Great Golden Digger Wasp