From the monthly archives: "August 2011"

Moth at Waldo Lake, Oregon
Location: Waldo Lake, Central Cascades, Oregon
August 1, 2011 10:38 pm
It looked more like a fly or mosquito but up close I’d say it’s a moth. Any idea what kind of moth?
Signature: Richard

Unknown Male Midge

Hi Richard,
Your initial instinct was correct.  This is not a moth, despite its feathery antennae.  It is a Midge, a group of Flies closely classified with Mosquitoes.  There are Biting Midges and those that do not bite, but alas, we have had no luck identifying the species you submitted.  We can tell you that it is a male based on the feathery antennae.  You can try searching through the insects posted to BugGuide under the infraorder Culicomorpha and you might have better luck than we have had.

Unnambed bug on trees – Good or bad?
Location: 45.120367,-79.566593
August 1, 2011 1:45 pm
Suddenly found these on several trees in our front yard near a lake in Muskoka.
Found down low at ground level, or a few feet off the ground on both mature cedars and pine.
Mostly still unless disturbed (by gathering a specimen) and then move as a school / herd away from the disturbance.
Larvae or mature?
Good or bad?
Leave or eradicate?
Signature: Wondering in Muskoka

Bark Louse

Dear Wondering in Muskoka,
What we especially love about your submission, in addition to the truly awesome photograph, is your marvelous description of this immature Bark Louse,
Cerastipsocus venosus, when it is in company with the rest of its aggregation.  You described them as a herd, and another common name for Bark Lice is Tree Cattle.  They are harmless creatures that feed on lichens, but since lichens are generally associated with old trees that might be in decline, folks without the proper information might be inclined to blame the Tree Cattle for the death of a large tree.  We have already indicated that the individual in your photo is an immature nymph.  Adults are interesting insects with black wings with white veins.

Mysterious Bug
Location: California
August 2, 2011 12:27 am
Hey guys, I was recently out walking in my backyard and I found this bug squirming on its back. It was an interesting looking one and so I thought I would post it here and see what you guys have to say about it. Every time I flipped it over, however, it would flip itself back onto its back and squirm there. I found another one that was running every which way searching for something. Then, I found another that was lying on its stomach flailing its limbs. After I did some digging, I found out that my neighbor recently sprayed his yard with poison, and apparently these things were caught in the cross-fire. How unfortunate, they are really something special with their size.
Signature: Josh

Palo Verde Root Borer

Dear Josh,
We are taking tremendous creative license with tagging your letter, because generally the person who submits the email is the person implicated in our tags.  In this case, we are charging your neighbor with unnecessary carnage, but not necessarily for just the Palo Verde Root Borer,
Derobrachus hovorei, that you photographed.  We don’t know what was targeted by your neighbor, and perhaps he has a cherished Palo Verde tree that was compromised by a larger than usual population of Palo Verde Root Borers.  Adult Palo Verde Root Borers are not the damage producing phase of the insect.  The larvae are the borer and insecticide will most likely not penetrate to the root of the problem.   Sadly, insecticides are indiscriminate in the lives they take, and beneficial as well as injurious creatures may succumb.  Birds and Lizards might also become collateral damage by exposure to strong doses of toxins administered by an amateur.  You may read more about the Palo Verde Root Borer on BugGuide.

Palo Verde Root Borer

Wierd Spanish Bug
Location: Andalucia, Spain
August 1, 2011 3:56 pm
I live in spain and came across this bug the other week. it could not fly very well but was pretty huge!
Signature: Mr McCann

Mammoth Wasp

Dear Mr. McCann,
Throughout the years, we have gotten several images of the Mammoth Wasp,
Scolia flavifrons, and each time we cannot help but to be impressed by one of the most magnificent wasps in the world.  It seems appropriate that such a large wasp would prey on the larvae of the impressive Rhinoceros Beetles.  We have some good links on our 2009 submission from Sicily

Location: Cheyenne, Wyoming
August 1, 2011 12:12 pm
Please identify. Many of these healthy looking critters are in our greenhouse munching away on the remaining tomatoes!
Signature: Beth

Tomato Hornworm

Hi Beth,
We only know of two Sphinx Caterpillars, commonly called Hornworms, that feed upon tomato, and they are both green, so we were very surprised to learn that the Tomato Hornworm,
Manduca quinquemaculata, also has a dark form.  Your individual is considerably darker than the example posted on the Sphingidae of the Americas website, the best place to identify Sphinx Moths in the family Sphingidae.  We are going to copy the webmaster at Sphingidae of the Americas, Bill Oehlke, because he may be interested in posting your very dark Tomato Hornworm.

Bill Oehlke responds
Hi Daniel,
The dark form is actually quite common. There are a couple of links on quinquemaculatus file where sources have sent green and dark forms feeding in same location, some of them are very dark.
Thanks for thinking of me. The Laramie County sighting confirms/documents a suspected presence in that county.
Bill Oehlke

Hello Dan,
Thanks for doing the work! I am intrigued!  We have not used any pesticide in the greenhouse and only had a limited amount of tomatoes.
Thanks for passing this on – my husband and I are teachers, Paul a middle grades science teacher and I teach second grade so this will start the year with interest for the kids.
With appreciation,
Beth Crips

gardening blog update:  August 18, 2011
We allow Tomato Hornworms and Tobacco Hornworms to feed on our tomato plants.  There are usually no more than two caterpillars per plant.  We love the adult moths, though we have only seen one.  The pupa we tried to raise in a terrarium emerged and its wings did not enlarge.  It might benefit this species for the female to stay by the food source and attract the male.

Killington ”Bluejacket”
Location: Killington, Vermont
August 1, 2011 2:00 pm
What’s this ”bluejacket” (instead of a Yellowjacket)? I’ve seen it twice on Killington Mountain, Killington, Vermont – once 8/16/09 (photo enclosed)& once 7/29/2011. The recent sighting was at about 2500 feet above sea level, on the ”Header” ski trail under the Ramshead Express Quad. This trail faces approximately southeast, I think. The hour was approximately 3 pm EDT, & the area where I saw the insect was fully sunlit & very hot – ~ 80 degrees F. Both times the insect appears to have been feeding on what I think isLiatris Borealis (Northern Blazing Star). Not a great picture, but I hope you can help!
Signature: Peggy Richardson

Flower Fly

Hi Peggy,
This is a Flower Fly or Hover Fly in the family Syrphidae.  We have tried in the past to identify a blue Flower Fly to no avail.  We will continue to research its species identity. 

We found this newly posted image on BugGuide of
Didea alneti from Canada that matches your Flower Fly quite nicely.

Yes, it certainly looks similar.  This is great, thanks.  I’ve been poking around looking for pix & info. & I don’t yet find any other sightings in Vermont.  The link you sent me was reporting from Alberta, Canada.  I found reports from the UK, from Austria/Tyrol, & Sweden. Here’s a Danish site with a great photo gallery of this species: <- This site lists the distribution as “Alaska to Labrador, s. to Colorado & N.S.” so it’s exciting to think I may be the 1st to report it in VT.  Not surprising that it would be up on a mountain.