From the monthly archives: "September 2011"

huge bug never seen anything like it!
Location: wooded area, spokane valley, wa
September 29, 2011 2:32 am
This was outside in the. Gravel next to my house. There are plenty of trees nearby and its fall now. Temperatures are about 60-80 the last couple of days. This bug is about 2-3 inches.
Signature: marina

Potato Bug

Hi Marina,
This subterranean insect is commonly called a Jerusalem Cricket or Potato Bug, and we get so many identification requests that we have tagged it one of our Top 10, though most sightings are from Southern California.  With the advent of the internet, it became apparent that populations of Potato Bugs can also be found in the more northern latitudes of the western North American states.

Unknown caterpiller with warning stalks?
Location: Harrisburg, PA.
September 28, 2011 7:26 pm
I was wondering if you had an idea as to what this little fellow is. The first photo shows the results of prodding him with a stem to move him into better camera view. The orange stalks appear to be some sort of defensive measure. Could you inform me as to what they actually do? Any help would be appreciated.
Signature: Joseph Grabko

Black Swallowtail Caterpillar

Hi Joseph,
One of your photos shows this early instar Black Swallowtail Caterpillar on an Italian parsley leaf, one of the garden herbs that serves as a host plant for the caterpillar that is often called a Parsley Worm or Carrot Worm.  Fully grown Black Swallowtail Caterpillars have a striking green, black, yellow and white pattern that your individual doesn’t yet possess since it is an earlier instar.  Caterpillars molt five times between the time they hatch from eggs until they metamorphose into a chrysalis, and each of the stages is called an instar.  The orange stalks you mentioned are a scent organ called an osmetriumthat is characteristic of Swallowtail Caterpillars from around the world.  As you indicated, it is a defense measure that will dissuade predators like birds.  Your individual is one of the earliest instar images we have received of a Swallowtail Caterpillar displaying its osmetrium.

Black Swallowtail Caterpillar displaying Osmetrium

Location: Griffith Park, Los Angeles, CA
September 28, 2011 1:01 am
Dear Bugman,
I was at Griffith Park in Los Angeles with my son when we spotted this winged insect. In person, the bug looked like a moth with very sharp, jagged wings. In the picture the wings appear much more translucent and less jagged than they did in person. Please help identify.
Thank you!!
Signature: Curious Bug Mama

Bee Fly: Xenox habrosus

Dear Curious Bug Mama,
At first we thought this might be a Tiger Bee Fly,
Xenox tigrinus, but we learned on BugGuide that the Tiger Bee Fly is an eastern species.  We believe this is its western relative, Xenox habrosus, which is represented on BugGuide with Los Angeles area postings.  Daniel is doing a talk on October 15 at 2 PM at the Lummis Home along the historic Arroyo Parkway (Pasadena Freeway) to benefit the gardens.  The talk is on beneficial bugs and is entitled Butterflies, Bees and Things That Go Bump In The Night.  Since this talk is about local species, you photo, which is of excellent quality, will probably be included in the powerpoint presentation.

Help! Is this spider dangerous?
Location: Southwest United States (house in Albuquerque, NM)
September 27, 2011 8:46 pm
I am highly allergic (not deathly allergic, I don’t think) to spider bites. I am also pregnant. I’ve killed two of these spiders in the last week, and I’m worried they might pose a danger. Please let me know how I can get rid of them, if there might be a nest in the house, or any other safety advice. The attached photo is blown up. The spider itself measured barely 1 centimeter.
Signature: Mei

Jumping Spider

Hi Mei,
This is a harmless Jumping Spider in the family Salticidae, and it is also classified in the genus
Phidippus.  We often have difficulty identifying Jumping Spiders to the species level because many species look similar and individuals within a species often have great variability.  This individual looks similar to a photo posted to BugGuide of Phidippus princeps.  Jumping Spiders do not build webs to snare prey.  They have excellent eyesight and they hunt and pounce on prey.  They are often found feeding on flies and they will help keep the House Fly population down in your yard.  While we say that they are harmless, and we have never received a report of anyone being bitten by a Jumping Spider, the possibility does exist.  They should be handled with caution, or better yet, not handled at all.

Intriguing Bug… intriguing behavior
Location: Fraser Valley, BC, Canada
September 27, 2011 9:13 pm
Hello Mr. Bugman,
I have had this very interesting little bug on my window since around mid June (it is now the end of September). I just checked before I took these pictures today and he/she is very much alive still. Do you know what it is so that I can look further into why it is behaving this way? I gently picked him/her up and placed her on a plant and within an hour he/she was right back on my window. Sometimes he/she is brownish and sometimes he/she is a brilliant light green color.
Thank you tons.
Signature: Thank you Tons. C.T.


Dear C.T.,
This is a Mayfly in the order Ephemeroptera.  You can see the U.C.  Berkeley website for more information on Mayflies.  We can tell you that the name Ephemeroptera is a reference to the very short life of the adult or imago that often lives for a single day.  Adult Mayflies do not feed.  We are certain that the Mayfly you photographed is not the same as the individual you noticed in June.  The light green individuals you have seen are the subimagos or subadults.  Mayflies are unusual in that they molt twice in the final winged stage of their life.  

That is awesome info!  Thank you so greatly.  I often get interesting bugs on my deck.  If I find them in the future, can I contact you again?
Thank you also for you quick response.  I was excited to see your email and surprised and how fast you got back to me.

We have many contributors who send us multiple identification requests, but we cannot guarantee that our small staff will be able to respond to every request.

Red Spotted Purple Butterfly
Location: NC
September 27, 2011 10:47 pm
My daughter found the caterpillar of this lovely butterfly. I was surprised what a beautiful butterfly emerged out of the chrysalis.
Signature: Jeanette

Red Spotted Purple

Hi Jeanette,
Many people believe the Red Spotted Purple is the most beautiful North American butterfly, and we will not argue with them.  We are not certain we have ever chosen our favorite, but the Red Spotted Purple would surely be a contender.  We hope this individual was eventually released because the insect habitat is no place for adult butterflies that should be flying free.

Oh yes, it was released quickly!  We usually keep our moths and butterflies for only one or two days to observe and then let them go.  The Red Spotted Purple defiantly has my vote for the most beautiful!