From the monthly archives: "August 2011"

Grass Cutting Flying
Location: Southern NH
August 1, 2011 6:40 pm
I was recently enjoying some time in my yard, relaxing under the shade of a maple tree when from the corner of my eye I saw what appeared to be a bit of hay or dried grass floating from the sky. As I watched the floating vegetation I realized that it wasn’t floating at all but headed in a direction, with purpose, into a small hole in the axle of my wheel barrow.
Of course with my curiosity peaked I watched and to my surprise a hornet looking/flying ant-ish insect popped back out and within a minute was back again with another bit of grass. This continued for as long as I watched and managed to get a picture. I checked under the hornet/wasp directory but did not see anything resembling my little ’bugger’. As far as I could tell he/she was acting alone going back and forth cutting off dead tops of long grass and bringing them back. It was captivating to watch but now I must know what it is and what it was doing (and whether or not I should be worried that it is starting a grass collection in my wheel barrow (stinger?) . . . Thanks Bunches
Signature: Nicole in NH

Grass Carrying Wasp

Hi Nicole,
We got tremendous pleasure reading about your observations of this Grass Carrying Wasp in the genus
Isodontia.  According to BugGuide:  “Females make nests in a tree, hollow stem or other cavity, divide into sections and close with grass. They provision with Orthoptera (Tettigoniidae, Gryllidae). Can be two generations per year (I. mexicana in PA).”  BugGuide also provides this information:  “Taken from the Internet Reference below (Penn State): The adult wasps emerge from their cocoons in early summer, mate, and the females locate a suitable nest site. She collects blades of grass and grass and hay stems to line the nest cavity. The wasp can be seen flying through the air with the blades trailing beneath her. She lands at the hole and enters, pulling the blade in behind her. After the nest is prepared, she hunts for tree crickets (i.e., Oecanthus sp.), captures and paralyses them with her sting, and transports them to the nest. She deposits eggs in the nest and the emerging larvae will feed on the living, but immobile crickets. When the larvae reach the appropriate size (in 4–6 days at 70–75° F.), they spin a cocoon and pupate. The adult wasps emerge in 2–3 weeks. In Pennsylvania, Isodontia mexicana typically produce two generations per year.”  If that timeline is accurate, you can expect your wheelbarrow to be out of commission for about a month while it is being used as a nursery should you desire the young Grass Carrier Wasps to develop without incident.

Well I must say Thank You very much for your quick response and solving this mystery for me. I have another wheelbarrow that I’ll use for now since I have sort have taken a liking to the little critter and the free lawn mowing!  😉
Thanks again!!

Location: NW Montana, USA, daytime sighting
August 1, 2011 5:16 pm
Hi there! Love your website, and browse it often. I take tons of photos, and love when they include insects of all kinds. Found this caterpillar…who unfortunately would NOT sit still…and as always, set about trying to identify it! Not having much luck, so hoped you could give me a hand! Many thanks!
Signature: veggietoo

Elegant Sheep Moth Caterpillar

Dear veggietoo,
This is the caterpillar of one of the Buck Moths in the genus
Hemileuca, and in our opinion, it is the caterpillar of the Elegant Sheep Moth, Hemileuca eglanterina, which you may verify by comparing your individual to this image on BugGuide.  The adult is a highly variable diurnal moth, and you may view a photo of a mating pair from our archives.  According to BugGuide, it is:  “Widely distributed in western North America: Rocky Mountains west to Pacific, from Southern California to southern Canada. In California found west of the crest of the Sierras, absent from San Joaquin Valley except for Sacramento Delta, found in southern California only in the mountains.”

Location: Macedonia Ohio
August 1, 2011 6:11 pm
Hi! Found your website and figured you might be able to help! We found what we think is a caterpillar, but I’m not sure. It was a very bright green color, almost neon and had a head that came out of its body, that almost looked like a beetles head! Also reminded me of a gummy worm cause of the consistency. We didn’t bother him much, just took him out of the driveway and put him on a tree. We would really like to know more about this pretty little thing! Ill try to attach a picture of him! Thank you very much!
Signature: Amanda

Polyphemus Moth Caterpillar

Hi Amanda,
We really love the way your Polyphemus Moth Caterpillar appears to be smiling for the camera.

Thank you so much!! And yes.. we joked about when he seen me there, he kinda lifted his head up to say hello! He’s awesome!

Are you a wasp?
Location: hills in Brea, CA 33°56’53.65”N 117°50’30.08”W
August 1, 2011 4:02 pm
On July 29th, 2011, at Scout Camp, we came across this wasp-like guy crawling in and out of holes. He was fairly non-aggressive as he let us get fairly close before he would chase us away. We’ve seen the little blackish/bluish wasp that dig into the ground before, but these guys were MUCH larger than those wasps and their heads are much bigger. The blue color is striking as well.My son and I love your site! So, we were wondering, is this in the wasp family? The head just didn’t seem like a typical wasp head.
Signature: Ron and Kevin

Steel Blue Cricket Hunter

Dear Ron,
The Steel Blue Cricket Hunter,
Chlorion aerarium, is indeed a Thread Waisted Wasp in the family Sphecidae.  According to BugGuide:  “Females mass-provision several serial cells, each containing from 2 to 9 nymphs or adults of Gryllus pennsylvanicus. Prey are transported on the ground, venter-up, with the wasp’s mandibles grasping the antennae of the cricket.”  This really is a beautiful wasp. 

Steel Blue Cricket Hunter

St. Louis, MO unidentified bug
Location: St. Louis, MO
August 1, 2011 7:44 pm
I saw this bug in my backyard. It flew past me and landed on our deck railing. At first I thought it was a wasp but as I looked closer I realized it was something else. The bug was very docile – it did not move much at all as I photographed it. It almost looks like a dragon fly wasp hybrid. No stinger that I could see.
Sorry a couple of the photos are not sharp – was using my iPhone camera.
Signature: jredington

Hanging Thief

Hi jredington,
This is a Robber Fly in the genus
Diogmites, commonly called a Hanging Thief.  It gets its name from its habit of hanging by a single leg while eating the prey it has snatched from the air using its long legs like a basket.  Here is a photo from our archives that illustrates a Hanging Thief eating.

What is this?
Location: Northwest Indiana
August 2, 2011 8:33 am
We found this, I’m assuming it a moth of some kind on our screen door after a storm
Signature: Shirley

Pandora Sphinx

Dear Shirley,
This beautifully patterned moth is a Pandora Sphinx,
Eumorpha pandorus.  Should you desire more information, you can search its name on our search engine, or click the thumbnails beneath this posting (on our website, not on the email) or visit the Sphingidae of the Americas website.