From the monthly archives: "December 2011"

Would like to identify
Location: Upton, MA, USA
December 22, 2011 10:40 am
I have found thousands of these tiny insects outside in my ducks’ water dish. Brought a sample in and took a pic with my digital microscope. Thanks in advance!
Signature: Regards…Beth Towne

Globular Springtail

Hi Beth,
This is a Globular Springtail, possibly Dicyrtomina minuta which is pictured on BugGuide and listed as:  “Very common in the UK. Probably an introduced species” in North America.  Springtails are beneficial primitive insects that help break down organic material into humus, however, they can become a nuisance if they become too plentiful.  They need damp conditions to survive.

Globular Springtail

Sphinx Moth Caterpillar
Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL
December 21, 2011 12:26 pm
I believe this is a Sphinx Moth. It is feeding on Crown of Thorns. I’ve seen them over the summer before, but never in December.
PS. LOVE your site. Thank you
Signature: Anthony Argenti

Ello Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Anthony,
Thanks for the compliment.  We believe we have correctly identified your caterpillar as an Ello Sphinx,
Erinnyis ello.  We did the original identification based on information on the Sphingidae of the Americas website which indicates that they feed on plants in the family Euphorbiaceae which include poinsettia and crown of thorns.  The caterpillar is also reported to be quite variable in coloration.  BugGuidenotes:  “Larval characters: (2)  Horn reduced to a low point, arising from an elevated angular hump.  In the last instar, the horn is reduced to a nub.  Eyespot over the third thoracic segment is hidden in the resting caterpillar.  Ornately banded thoracic and prolegs.  Length to 7cm.   Erinnyis spp. caterpillars come in a seemingly endless variety. ” 

Ello Sphinx Caterpillar

One of your photos shows the ornately banded thoracic legs.

Ello Sphinx Caterpillar showing banded thoracic legs

6 legged flying insect
Location: Florida
December 21, 2011 11:47 am
This bug has been hanging out in my office for months now. Instead of killing him we have actually made friends haha. I have literally petted this guy. He will land of me and just sit there for a while also. It has 6 legs. The front 2 he actually uses as antennas to feel around and he constantly ”washes his hands” rubbing the front 2 legs together. He can fly but likes to walk around mostly. Front 2 legs have white on the bottoms but the others are solid brown. His mouth kinda looks like an ant’s. He has never bitten me.
Signature: I don’t care

Stilt Legged Fly

Dear I don’t care,
Though your photo is extremely blurry, we are confident that we have identified your insect on BugGuide as a Stilt Legged Fly,
Grallipeza nebulosa, based on its coloration, your location and the behavior you describe.

Yep, that is the bug.  Thank you.  It was driving me crazy not knowing.

Spider like bug
Location: Hampton, VA
December 21, 2011 11:29 am
Hey WTB! I love you guys! I always go to your site to find out what bugs I find crawling around my house! Especially since I’m military and move a lot.
Well I just moved to Virginia and I found this bug that I’ve seen about 3 times around the outside of the house. I’ve never seen anything like it before. I thought it was a type of spider at first but it has features of a cricket as well. When I went to push it outside of my porch it jumped too like a cricket. I tried to take a couple pictures but since we just moved all I had on me was my phone so sorry for the bad pictures. Hope you can figure it out. I have a small dog and a 3 year old daughter so I wanna make sure this thing isn’t poisonous or bites. Thanks again!
Signature: David Ivey

Camel Cricket

Dear David,
Many of our identification requests come from members of the military who are serving in foreign lands.  This is a Camel Cricket (so named because of the humped back) or Cave Cricket (a name referring to preferred habitat) in the family Rhaphidophoridae.  They are often found in damp, dark places like basements.  We have gotten numerous identification requests for Camel Crickets from the eastern United States in the past two months, leading us to believe that populations may be on the increase.  BugGuide provides this bit of information:  “Feed on leaf debris. In houses may chew on paper products, occasionally fabric.”  BugGuide also has this advice:  “If these occur in a house the best treatment is to remove them and their breeding habitat – cool moist dark places such as piles of logs or boards in basements. A clean dry home will not be a welcoming place for these guys. Although they are scary-looking they are basically harmless to humans, except perhaps for minor damage to stored items, and are easily discouraged by eliminating the dark damp habitat they prefer.”

BIG spider in Angola
Location: Kikuxi, Luanda, Angola
December 22, 2011 12:38 am
We found this huge spider in our courtyard in Angola, and we just photographed it and left it alone. Later, I wondered whether it was poisonous. I put a match stick in the picture to help with size.
Signature: Dawn in Angola

Unknown Spider from Angola

Dear Dawn,
Almost all spiders have venom, but very few have venom that is toxic enough to be a threat to humans.  We do not recognize your spider, but we are posting your letter and photo in the hope that we might someday identify this interesting looking creature.  Perhaps our readership might be able to provide an identification as well.

Karl provides an identification:  December 29, 2011
Hi Daniel and Dawn:
It looks like a Nursery Web Spider (Pisauridae), perhaps in the genus Euprosthenops. By all accounts they are harmless to humans. Regards. Karl

What IS it??
Location: Polokwane, South Africa
December 21, 2011 3:29 pm
This was in our house. Ran quickly. Looks like a huge ant but has 8 legs like a spider.
Signature: DJ

Solifugid appears to be victim of Unnecessary Carnage

Dear DJ,
This is a species of Solifugid, a member of the Arachnid order Solifugae.  Though they are related to both Spiders and Scorpions, Solifugids do not have venom and they are not considered dangerous to humans.  Solifugids are sometimes called Sun Spiders or Wind Scorpions.  Solifugids are generally found in arid climates and species from the Middle East which are known as Camel Spiders can grow quite large.  It appears that your Solifugid might have been smashed as evidenced by what appears to be bodily fluids at the end of the abdomen.  If this is the case, we would like to educate you regarding the benefits of this harmless, nocturnal hunter.   Though they appear to be frightening, Solifugids are not harmful to human or pets, unless you keep small arthropods as pets.  It is possible that a Solifugid might bite a human if they are carelessly handled, but since there is no venom involved, the bite is harmless.  If they are present in or near your home, Solifugids will help to control the population of Cockroaches and other creatures that you might find undesirable.