From the monthly archives: "August 2011"

Strange Costa Rican Bug
Location: Monteverde, Costa Rica
July 31, 2011 5:00 pm
Hi, would you please identify this bug for me. Seen at night in Costa Rica. I’ve never seen anything like it. Cheers
Signature: Laurence

Transvestite Rove Beetle

Hi Laurence,
We are positively thrilled to have received your photo of a Transvestite Rove Beetle,
Leistotrophus versicolor.  We originally received a similar identification request from Costa Rica last September, and you can read that entertaining posting here.   Here is what Scrubmuncher’s Blog has to say about the Transvestite Rove Beetle:  “Interestingly, there are even transvestite insects and the males of one of these species, a rove beetle from Central America, subtly imitate females as a means of getting access to and reproducing with bone-fide females. The transvestite rove beetle (Leistotrophus versicolor) is a denizen of the rain-forests of Costa Rica, where, like lots of other rove beetles, it makes a living by seeking out decaying plant and animal matter to feed on the adult insects and larvae that make use of these ephemeral resources. These honey-pots don’t last long in the super-charged biological activity of the hot and humid tropical forests, so when normal male rove beetles find them they guard them because they also attract females, allowing a male to assemble a harem.  Males of this rove beetle are divided into two types, normal butch specimens and small, effeminate ones. The small, effeminate males can find honey-pots, but they have little hope of defending them against the bigger males, so their chances of building a harem are next to nothing. These males have evolved another means of making sure they pass their genes onto the next generation. They sneak past the normal males using their effeminate appearance as a disguise and under the harem owner’s nose they have it away with the females he has been so carefully guarding. This strategy is almost flawless, but now and again the transvestite male is caught prancing around in the harem by the owner male and the only way he can avoid being torn limb from limb is by assuring the aggressor of his femininity and giving in to a ‘mating’.  One sore behind later, the transvestite male carries on sneakily copulating with the females in the harem, only slightly more nervous for his unpleasant experience.  The duplicity of these beetles is not just limited to transvestism, as they can also produce odours that mimic the smell the rotting matter in order to attract prey, namely flies. The rotting matter these beetles depend on can often be hard to come by, so they need an alternative means of finding suitable prey. Within the tip of their abdomen these beetles have a pair of pygidial glands that can be popped out to smear an odorous secretion on a suitable platform, such as a leaf. Flies are drawn to this odour in the hope of finding some filth to feed on to lay their eggs on, so all the beetle has to do is to wait until a suitable victim scuttles within pouncing distance.”  There are some nice matching photos on the American Insects website.  Should you desire additional information, you can read about the “Post-copulatory aggression toward their mates by males of the rove beetle Leistotrophus versicolor (Coleoptera:  Staphylinidae)” in the online version of the Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.

Update:  August 20, 2011
Hi Daniel
Thanks very much for your response. I didn’t expect anything so detailed or interesting!
I don’t suppose you can say whether it’s a butch male or effeminate male / female?
Cheers
Laurence

We aren’t sure about the sexual traits of the Rove Beetle.  Sorry.

 

Wasp Heaven Today
Location: Hawthorne, CA
July 31, 2011 9:08 pm
Hi,
Today we had three ”new” wasps to the yarden for this year. Two I was able to identify when they visited last year, the Great Golden Digger (my favorite) and one other. I haven’t been able to identify the one in the images attached, though. Can you help? It’s quite good sized, but not as large as the Golden Digger.
Signature: Thanks, Anna Carreon

Golden Paper Wasp

Hi Anna,
This is a Paper Wasp in the genus
Polistes, and though there is some question as to whether it is a species or a subspecies, we believe this is a Golden Paper Wasp, Polistes aurifer, which you may verify by comparing your individual to this photo on BugGuide.  A small colony builds a suspended nest and workers tend to the larvae, which are fed skinned and pre-chewed caterpillars.  The Golden Paper Wasp in your photo is probably searching for Caterpillars on the swiss chard.

Golden Paper Wasp

Hi Daniel,
Thanks Daniel.  I was pretty sure it was in the genus Polistes, but wasn’t readily able to find it.  We’re off to the South Coast Botanic Gardens today with picnic and cameras in hand.  Hopefully I will come back with good stuff.
Anna

You have taken such wonderful insect images in your own yard, so we hope you are not disappointed by the botanical gardens.

 

DARTH VADER? CHIC IN BROWN
Location: TONASKET, WA
July 31, 2011 10:29 pm
I THOUGHT WITH SUCH AN UNUSUAL MOTH, IT WOULD BE EASY TO FIND! HA HA. BUPKIS, NADA, ZILCH. NOT MANY HAVE THIS FLAT FACE. I COULDN’T EVEN FIGURE OUT A FAMILY. I TOOK THIS AROUND THE 10TH OF JULY.I WOULD REALLY APPRECIATE HIS REAL NAME. A THOUSAND THANK YOUS FOR ALL YOUR HELP. AND DEDICATION. AND FUN!
Signature: CATHY

Unknown Moth

Hi Cathy,
We agree that this is such an unusual looking moth, however, we do not recognize.  We are unable to take the time this morning to research its identity, however, we will post your image and letter and we hope one of our readers will be able to supply an answer.

Unknown Moth

 

Bug identification
Location: Koh Samui
August 1, 2011 2:56 am
Hi guys,
found this rather amazing creature on the small airport of Koh Samui, on the last day of our vacation (30th of July). It was dead when we found it. Was quite big (maybe 5 cm long). Hope you can shed some light on the nature of this thing 🙂
Signature: Niels Matthijs

Oleander Hawkmoth

Hi Niels,
This is an Oleander Hawkmoth,
Deilephila nerii, and because it is a strong flier, its range has increased in recent years due to the cultivation of its food plant, oleander, in gardens that have a mild climate.  We needed to do our research to learn that Koh Samui is an island off Thailand.  You can read more about the Oleander Hawkmoth on the Sphingidae of the Americas website where the species is included because it has been introduced to Hawaii.

Crazy Caterpillar
Location: Plant City, FL
August 1, 2011 8:49 am
Dear Bugman,
My cousin and I were out touring Dinosaur World when we saw this massive and ornately decorated caterpillar. We thought it was so exotic looking and were wondering what it was called and what kind of butterfly it will eventually turn into?
Signature: Trini & Amii

Hickory Horned Devil

Dear Trini and Amii,
This is a Hickory Horned Devil, and it will metamorphose into a Royal Walnut Moth.

Brazil bug
Location: Rio Negro, Brazil
July 31, 2011 3:56 pm
I found this beauty off the Rio Negro, north of Manaus, Brazil, close to Barcelos. Any idea what it could be? Definitely the strangest insect I’ve seen with my own two eyes!
Thank you very much!
Regards,
Jason Drake
Signature: Jason D.

Fulgorid Planthopper

Hi Jason,
This unusual insect is a Fulgorid Planthopper, a diverse group of insects with many exotic members, especially those residing in the tropics.  The white filaments are actually a waxy substance produced by the insect, presumably for protection.  Many members of the insect order Hemiptera, and that includes the Fulgorids, produces similar waxy secretions.  While we do not know the exact species, we did find a matching photo on the Animals and Earth website.