From the monthly archives: "June 2012"

Subject: Orange wasp with blue wings
Location: Warsaw, MO
June 24, 2012 11:12 pm
I’ve searched all over and cannot match this wasp to anything I find. It has a distinguishing marking on its back.
Signature: Shane

Paper Wasp

Hi Shane,
This is a species of Paper Wasp in the genus
Polistes which BugGuide describes as:  “Semi-social wasps. Unlike social (eusocial) wasps, where workers are sterile females, in Polistes all females are potential breeders.”  We are uncertain of the exact species, but Polistes metricus has similar thoracic markings though the abdomen is darker.  See BugGuide for photos of that species.  Polistes carolina, the Red Wasp (also on BugGuide), has no markings on the thorax, but otherwise looks very similar to your wasps.  Perhaps your wasps are a hybrid, a color variation, or a different species altogether.

Paper Wasps

Subject: Fly with Really Large Eyes
Location: Northeast Florida
June 24, 2012 7:23 pm
Here’s another fly I saw the other day in my yard in northeast Florida. It wasn’t very big, about 10mm, but it had enormous eyes that almost took up its entire head. With its huge red eyes and bright blue-green body I thought it was colorful and interesting. I went looking for it on BugGuide and found that it’s a Chrysomya megacephala, also known as a Hairy Maggot Blowfly–not a very appealing name! I couldn’t find any flies like this one on What’s That Bug so I’m sending you a photo.
Signature: Karen in FL

Hairy Maggot Blow Fly

Hi Karen,
This is the second time this week you have provided us with a wonderful new fly species photo for our site as well as doing the necessary research to determine the species.  BugGuide does not provide any information on the species page for
Chrysomya megacephala, but if our knowledge of ancient languages is not too rusty, we believe megacephala refers to the large head in Greek and supports that.  On the genus page on BugGuide, we learned that “Adults are robust flies metallic green in color with a distinct blue hue when viewed under bright sunlit conditions. The posterior margin of the abdominal tergites are a brilliant blue” and as an introduced species, “It is now established in Southern California, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, and Florida. It is also found throughout Central America, Japan, India, and the remainder of the old world.”  Backing off to the family page on BugGuide for Blow Flies, the reader learns that they are “scavengers (larvae in carrion, excrement, etc.) or parasites” and that they are “very common in a wide variety of habitats, including heavily urbanized areas.”  Normally we do not link to Wikipedia, but that resource does have an extensive page on this species where it is called the even less appealing Oriental Latrine Fly.  Wikipedia also states:  “C. megacephala is considered one of the most important species of flies to forensic science. This is because it is one of the first species to show up on a corpse.”  

Hi Daniel,
I’m glad the fly photos are helpful! I learned about BugGuide from you and What’s That Bug?, and now I always try to identify the bugs I photograph by looking here and at BugGuide. Usually I can figure it out to my satisfaction. This was such a colorful fly and turned out to have such an unpleasant name! I’ve been seeing some very pretty Long-Legged Flies and I’ll try to send you some photos of those.

Subject: Caterpillar found while weeding
Location: Austin, Texas
June 24, 2012 1:28 pm
I found three of these beautiful caterpillars while pulling weeds today. Unfortunately, I injured one before seeing them, but did manage to not harm the remaining two. They are eating on an unknown weed to me.
I have used your website in the past to identify many bugs, but after searching for 2 hours, I still have been unable to identify this caterpillar. I am hoping you can help me.
Signature: Deborah

Questionmark Caterpillar

Hi Deborah,
We believe this is a Questionmark Caterpillar, and that is an actual species identification and not a confused reply.  We matched your photo to an image of a Questionmark Caterpillar,
Polygonia interrogationis, that we located on BugGuide According to BugGuide:  “Caterpillars feed on nettle, false nettle, elms, hackberry, Japanese hops.”  We only have one previous posting of a Questionmark Caterpillar, so it was easy to overlook while scanning our site.  We do have numerous images of the adult Questionmark which gets it common name from a silver mark on the underside of the hind wings which is thought to resemble the interrogation mark.

Thank you so much! I had assumed it was a moth caterpillar since we see many more moths than butterflies here in Austin. I still cannot figure out what they are feeding on, even after looking up pictures of the plants mentioned in BugGuide. I sure hope to see more of these!

The food plant list might be incomplete.

Subject: Type of fly?
Location: Chicago-area, Illinois, USA
June 24, 2012 12:52 pm
We saw this insect on my father’s water bottle and were fascinated and appalled in equal measure. As I took one entomology course in college, I was expected to instantly identify this mysterious bug. My response that it was a ”fly/wasp thing” did not impress. Please help me regain credibility,
Signature: Robin

Robber Fly

Hi Robin,
This is a predatory Robber Fly, and we believe we have correctly identified it as
Efferia aestuans thanks to images posted on BugGuide.  Since it is lacking an ovipositor and has a tufted abdomen, we can conclude that this is a male.

Robber Fly

Subject: Eastern Hercules Beetle story
June 23, 2012 2:52 pm
My coworker found a female eastern hercules beetle at our nursery in Winston-Salem, NC, which we identified thanks to your site.  I brought her home for my 9-year-old entomologist to see.  He named her Terra for the Roman goddess of the earth, and let her crawl all over him before releasing her in the backyard.
Just wanted to share & say thanks.  We love!
Signature: Alison Wright

Female Hercules Beetle from our archives

Dear Alison,
Thank you for your heartwarming email.  We are generally reluctant to post letters without photos, so we found an image from our archive of a female Eastern Hercules Beetle to accompany your posting.

Subject: Raising Bufferflies (we hope!)
Location: Halfmoon, NY (near Albany)
June 24, 2012 9:53 am
I came across your website while trying to figure out what type of caterpillars took over our rue. Last year we successfully raised and released over 30 Monarchs and this year have decided to rescue other caterpillars. We found these just after they hatched and thought they were Black Swallowtails as we had already found a large Black Swallowtail caterpillar (now in it’s chrysalis). As we watched them grow, we realized that we had been mistaken. Are these Giant Swallowtail caterpillars? We are hoping that we have enough rue to sustain our 6 new rescues!
Signature: Sarah

Giant Swallowtail Caterpillar on Rue

Hi Sarah,
We must commend you on your successful identification of this Giant Swallowtail Caterpillar and we wish you luck with the raising of it and its siblings to the butterfly stage.  Giant Swallowtails are a native species, but their range has expanded considerably and their numbers have increased in portions of the range where citrus is cultivated.  Though citrus is not native, the caterpillars adapted to feeding on the leaves of orange and other citrus trees, earning the caterpillars, which resemble bird droppings, the name Orange Dog.  We did locate a note on the All the Dirt on Gardening website that states:  “Rue gets special treatment in our garden is because it is the only plant we grow that is used by Giant Swallowtail butterflies to raise their caterpillars. Rue’s poisonous leaves make the caterpillars taste bitter to predators so they are left alone.”  We believe the website originates in Canada.