From the monthly archives: "July 2012"

Subject: Giant Green Caterpillar!!
Location: The backyard. (Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, near Harrisonburg)
July 30, 2012 7:45 pm
Dearest Bug Man,
You are looking at two big ugly green caterpillars… I’ve already looked, and I like to see new bugs, but I gotta say – these big fat guys creeped me out a bit.
What ARE these creatures? I noticed something was eating my bush moon-flower leaves and when I started turning over leaves this is what I found! I’ve never seen this mammoth before… and they cleverly blend right in with the plant. I tried looking up ’giant green caterpillar’ and it might be some kind of horn worm, but I’m not sure.
I captured them and isolated them with their leaves under a big plastic storage thingie to see what happens…… Do I want to know? What do they turn into? Can I spray my moon-flowers with Neem Oil? I don’t want to get rid of a perfectly good bug, but they’re eating my beautiful moon-flowers!! I’m in VA in the Shenandoah Valley, and so are the bugs!
Thanks so much,
Virginia Caterpillar Warden
Signature: Virginia Caterpillar Warden

Tobacco Hornworms

Dear Virginia Caterpillar Warden,
These are Carolina Sphinx Caterpillars,
Manduca sexta, commonly called Tobacco Hornworms though they are generally found eating the leaves of tomato plants in home gardens.  We wanted to research your Bush Moonflower and most photos online indicate it is a Datura which is consistent with the diet of the Tobacco Hornworms of plants in the family Solanacea.  Adult Carolina Sphinxes are large brownish gray moths with yellow spots on the body.  Though they are not vibrantly colored, they are quite attractive.  A few caterpillars will most likely not harm your plant too severely.  We always leave caterpillars on our tomato plants despite their ravenous appetites.  See Sphingidae of the Americas for more information on the Tobacco Hornworms.

Wow!  Thanks Daniel!
You’re right about the moon-flower – it’s a Datura. If the Sphinxes like tomatoes they’ll love these plants because they are in the nightshade family.   I only found two, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed that I don’t get more and get my flowers ravaged!  They are only on one plant…. now I guess I’ll have to check everyday.
The Moon Flower plants are new for me and were sent as root transplants from Joplin MO.  They are still only about 1 1/2 ‘ and I don’t want to lose the blooms.  The flowers open in the evening and into the night and are stunning.
You’ve given me some great resources to learn more about the hornworms!
Thank-you so much!

Subject: Can you tell me about this insect?
Location: La Crescenta, California
July 29, 2012 6:58 pm
My daughter found this insect floating in the toilet bowl after a large BM. She was understandably agitated about this, thinking she had passed this out of her body, although this struck her mom and I as highly unlikely. Upon removing it, I found no signs of any fecal matter sticking to it, again suggesting the unlikely possibility of it coming out of her. SAdly, all our internet attempts to idenify this bug accurately have failed. Can you please help? Thanks so much!
Signature: Evan (Ed. Note:  surname withheld for discretionary reasons)

This looks a bit like a Pink Glowworm

Hi Evan,
Your photos are so blurry a positive identification on our part is highly unlikely, however, we believe based on the coloration and general shape that this might be the larva of a Pink Glowworm,
Microphotus angustus, which you can see in better detail on BugGuide.  We hope we are correct and that you can show the online images to your daughter to alleviate her agitation.  Though it is called a Pink Glowworm, this species is actually a Firefly in the family Lampyridae.  The real mystery is how it ended up in the toilet.

Resembles a Pink Glowworm

Dear Daniel:
A million thanks for getting back to me! Yes, I’m sorry for the blurriness of the photos, I was shooting with an iphone through a plastic bag! The insect has roughly 12 segments, each with bilateral legs, and each segment is pinkish with small white dots, and a visible thin whitish line separating each segment. There is a blue/purple line running along the entire length, visible in these new photos I’m sending you. Its underbelly is completely beige, and there is sparse hair growing especially at the ends. The tail is small and split. My wife tells me that as we live in Los Angeles, CA, we don’t have fireflies here. Could this still be a pink glowworm larva then? Please advise and thanks again for your time, assistance and empathy!
Best always,


Dear Evan,
Thanks for sending a new photo.  Though the focus is better than the original image, it is still too blurry for a conclusive identification.  This no longer appears to be a Pink Glowworm to us.  Glowworms are flatter in shape and this appears more rounded and the head is wrong for a Glowworm.  It now appears to be some type of Caterpillar, but we cannot determine which caterpillar.  There are Fireflies in Los Angeles, including the Pink Glowworm,
Microphotus angustus.  This BugGuide image is from San Diego.  The larvae and the larviform females in the genus are found in several states in the Southwest, according to BugGuide which has this distribution map.  We believe Glowworms are most commonly found in the foothills and your La Crescenta location supported that wrong guess.

Dear WTBers!!
You guys are truly da bomb! Thanks so much for your generous and helpful assist with this mystery!  Luckily, the caterpillar (both my wife’s initial guess and mine!) has survived its detainment, and has been released back into the wild no worse for wear (and hopefully, with a bit more caution when dealing with small bodies of water!) Thanks again for providing such quick and valuable service; we’ll be sending our contribution to keep you all afloat for future mystery solving.
Best always,


Subject: Big Bug
Location: Las Vegas NV
July 29, 2012 7:11 pm
Found this thing by my back door. Its 1 1/2 inch.
Signature: VegasSmitty

Female Turkestan Cockroach

Dear VegasSmitty,
This is a female Turkestan Cockroach, and we first posted images of this introduced species last year.  Males have wings and look more like typical Cockroaches.  According to BugGuide, the Turkestan Cockroaches were:  “introduced to the US in the late 1970s, presumably by military personnel returning from the Middle East” and they are found in “semi-arid to arid desert areas, in water meter boxes, cracks between blocks of poured concrete, compost piles, leaf litter, potted plants, and sewer systems.”

Subject: Bug in New Orleans
Location: New Orleans
July 29, 2012 10:28 pm
Today I was skating in City Park in New Orleans and as I was leaving the park to go home I saw this little guy hanging out on the sidewalk. He was kind of waving his left front leg and rubbing it against his eye. I think he may have been hurt. His skin was kind of bloated-looking and seemed loose and papery.
My boyfriend said this insect looks like a stag beetle, but the ”horns” in this photo are actually the front legs. His face was kind of plain, with two big black eyes. This bug was fairly large-possibly over 2” in length, and maybe an inch across or a little over at his widest point.
Since the bug was not really moving, and seemed hurt or stuck (maybe trampled by a wayward jogger) I gently nudged him over to the grass with a small stick to avoid any further injury.
Can you tell me what sort of bug this is?
Thank you!
Signature: Rachel

Cicada Nymph

Hi Rachel,
The quality of this photograph is quite poor, but this resembles a Cicada Nymph.  Cicada Nymphs spend several years underground feeding on fluids in plant roots and then they dig their way to the surface to metamorphose into winged adults that are significant contributors to the summer symphony of insect noises.  If this Cicada Nymph was injured, it will probably die before the metamorphosis process.

Thank you for the prompt reply! Sorry about the photo quality. The day was waning–I probably should have used the flash.
Now that you mention it, and after seeing the photos online, that bug was definitely a cicada nymph. I think I used to see a lot of them when I was younger but not for years and never up close.
Once again, thanks for getting back to me and appeasing my curiosity!

Subject: Darkling beetle
Location: Miagao Iloilo, Philippines
July 30, 2012 2:35 am
Good day Sir Daniel
I have collected this darkling beetle from a Rain Tree- Samanea saman, in the Philippines, Miagao Iloilo last July 15, 2012.Months of July here in the Philippines is a rainy season. I think this is from the family tenebrionidae, I have observed that when I disturb them, they will cluster back again under the bark that i have collected, they are somewhat afraid of light or something, the size is 3mm-8mm long can you identify the scientific name or even in genus level of this beetle pleasee it will be a very big help
Signature: Ed

Darkling Beetle

Hi Ed,
We agree that this appears to be a Darkling Beetle, but we are unable to provide any species or genus information.  The easiest species to learn about on the internet are large and conspicuous creatures or dangerous or harmful creatures.  Relatively nondescript species like this beetle will pose a tremendous challenge to properly identify.

Darkling Beetles

Subject: Spider Identifcation
Location: North East Pennsylvania
July 30, 2012 8:51 am
Hello –
This spider was found in my home on my pillow. The picture is zoomed in but the spider was as big as a half dollar. I thought it might be a Nursery Web Spider but I’m not sure. Please let me know if you are able to help me identify this spider. Thanks!
Signature: -Kristin

Rabid Wolf Spider

Hi Kristin,
Your spider is a Rabid Wolf Spider,
Rabidosa rabida, or another member of the genus, and you may verify that identification on BugGuide.  This large Wolf Spider is not a dangerous species.