From the monthly archives: "July 2012"

Subject: Striped Blister Bug or something else?
Location: Greenleaf, WI
July 4, 2012 12:42 pm
Seems each year my garden shows me a new bug. Last year was the invastion of squash bugs, this year the attached mystery bug, photo taken today, July 4th. Doing some searching, I’m thinking it may be a striped blister bug, but not sure. Similar images I’ve found don’t include Wisconsin as their zone, so that’s what makes me unsure of the identification. Seems to be eating my potato plants, but if it is a blister bug, I don’t know how much I want to handle them to attempt to pick them off like I usually handle potato bugs. Otherwise, what might help discourage their presence?
Signature: J Schmidt

Striped Blister Beetles

Dear J Schmidt,
First we want to commend you on identifying your Striped Blister Beetles,
Epicauta vittata, but we would like to point out that they are beetles, not true bugs.  You can read more about them on BugGuide, which lists an alternate common name, Old-Fashioned Potato Bug, which supports your observation that they are eating your potato plant leaves.  Also it is worth noting that BugGuide has reports from Wisconsin.  In the lower left corner of your photo is a grasshopper, and grasshoppers feed on leaves as well.  Many Blister Beetles feed on the eggs of grasshoppers as larvae, so Blister Beetles help keep the grasshopper population in check.  You might have a bigger problem if you eliminate the Striped Blister Beetles. 

Subject: Blue winged insect
Location: Niagara area, Southern Ontario
July 3, 2012 1:11 pm
I live in the Niagara area of Southern Ontario and found this guy in my garden. It is just over an inch long and the wing is almost 3/4 of an inch. Any idea what it is?
Signature: P.Skinner

Mydas Fly

Dear P. Skinner,
The wings of this Mydas Fly are reflecting the beautiful color of the sky.  The wings are not actually that blue, but the dark surface is perfect for enhancing the saturation of the colors reflected in them.

Thank you so much for identifying this guy for me. I have never seen one before and he was beautiful. Thanks also for featuring him as ‘bug of the month’. Very cool.

Subject: the storm bug
Location: Reisterstown, Maryland
July 3, 2012 8:54 am
The storm this weekend (6/30/2012) left me this visitor(s) on the side of my house. it/they moved over to the right when I sprayed the siding on Sunday but haven’t moved since. I took this picture this morning 7/3/2012.
Signature: Cynthia Miles

Mating Ailanthus Webworm Moths

Hi Cynthia,
These little mating beauties are Ailanthus Webworm Moths, one of the few insects known to feed on the noxious introduced Tree of Heaven.

Subject: paralized grasshoppers in nest above my door?! Could they be victims or wasps?
Location: Andover, MA
July 2, 2012 7:53 pm
I opened my screen door and out drops dozens of small green grasshoppers (not sure what kind) onto my head!…
They are alive but not able to move very much. My guess is they were parasitized by a wasp. If this it true, I’m assuming wasp eggs were laid in these pretty little things.
I would love to know for sure!
Thanks BugMan!
Signature: covered in grasshoppers

Paralyzed Drumming Katydid Nymph

Hi Roberta,
We will be writing to both Piotr Naskrecki and Eric Eaton to try to get to the bottom of this food chain mystery.  These are not Grasshoppers because their antennae are too long.  They are some immature Longhorned Orthopteran in the suborder Ensifera.  The specimen in hand appears to be a juvenile female because of the presence of an Ovipositor.  Perhaps Piotr who specializes in Katydids can provide species or genus information.  Thank you for including the nesting material.  It is most unusual and we do not know of a Parasitic Wasp that uses straw to build a nest, but perhaps Piotr or Eric will know more on that subject.

Paralyzed Drumming Katydid Nymphs with nesting material

Piotr Naskrecki identifies Katydids
Hi Daniel,
Cannot tell you much about who paralyzed these katydids (my guess would be a sphecid wasp of some kind), but the insects themselves are nymphs of Meconema thalassinum, a European species, introduced and now common in the Eastern US.

Ed. Note:  BugGuide identifies Meconema thalassinumas the Drumming Katydid.

Cache of Katydids from Nest

Eric Eaton provides a likely Predator:  Grass Carrier Wasp
Hi Daniel, Piotr:
Very interesting!  The wasps building the straw nests would be “grass-carriers” in the genus Isodontia, family Sphecidae.  I think the host here would be a new record since the wasps are native but the prey is not.  There are at least three or four Isodontia spp. in Massachusetts, so without at least an image of the wasp we can’t make an association.

Update from Roberta:  Larvae Emerge
Hi Daniel,
Thanks for the response. Larvae have started emerging from the katydids.  I have attached a couple of photos.  I did the best I could without a macro lens.
I have wasps buzzing around my house with little pieces of straw in-hand.   So a wasp came to mind as the culprit when the katydids dropped on my head.
They are still on my deck;  I would like to put them out of their misery if that’s okay?
Thanks again!

Wasp Larvae emerge and feed on Katydids

Ed. Note:  We missed Roberta’s first update and we added them to the original posting out of order.
Hi Roberta,
We somehow missed your first update.  While we understand the sympathy you feel for the Katydids, we can’t help but to marvel at the cache of Drumming Katydids that the Grass Carrying Wasp assembled and we hate to see that effort go to waste.  We wish you could provide a suitable substitute habitat and let nature take its course.

Update from Roberta:  Photo of the predator
Hi Daniel,
I attached a photo of the wasp .  I believe this is the species of wasp that is parasitizing the Drumming katydids.   There were a number of these wasps flying around carrying pieces of grass.  This one, however, isn’t.
I hope this helps.

Grass Carrier Wasp

Hi Roberta,
We feel we are making a conviction based on circumstantial evidence, but we are nonetheless pleased to arrive at the same conclusion that you have:  that this Grass Carrier Wasp or one of its relatives built the grass nest that was provisioned with immature Drumming Katydids.  Thank you so much for the follow-up.  This is exactly the type of interactive posting we love, complete with expert testimony.  Additionally, through a continued effort on your part, you photographed the interconnectivity between these two species, the predator and the prey.  It should be noted that like other wasps that prey upon insects, it is done for the purpose of feeding a brood.  The adults feed on nectar, most likely because during the evolutionary process, parents that did not compete with their young for the same food supply produced more offspring since food did not have to be shared.

Hi Daniel,
The scientist in me decided to let nature take its course; I placed the katydids in a covered area of my yard.
I kept one of the katydids to follow the development of the Grass Carrying Wasp.
I will let you know if I am successful in raising the wasp to adulthood.
Thanks so much for your wonderful site.


Subject: Huge unknown moth in Santa Cruz, CA
Location: Santa Cruz, California
July 3, 2012 12:19 am
I found this moth perched on the site of my house next to my zapper where it appears to have died (on the wall not in the zapper). It hasn’t moved in about 24 hours, but it’s huge! I didn’t even think the Monarchs of Natural Bridges got this big. I’ve never seen anything like it before in my area and that’s what concerns me (possible invasive species?). It’s wings haven’t opened so I’m not sure as to the wingspan, I’d guess about 5-8 inches (13-20cm) and the body is about 2-3 inches (5-8cm) long.
Signature: Todd G.

Polyphemus Moth

Hi Todd,
The Polyphemus Moth is native to all 48 lower states as well as Canada.  We suspect this female will lay eggs before she dies.  Hopefully she had the opportunity to mate. 
Polyphemus Moths do not eat as adults.  The live long enough to mate and lay eggs.
Too bad you didn’t have the opportunity to see this Polyphemus Moth with its wings opened.  When the wings are spread, the eyespots are revealed, and these “eyes” give the illusion to a predator like a bird that the Polyphemus Moth is a much bigger creature than it really is, and possibly the bird even mistakes the moth for a predator.

Subject: ID of blue butterfly
Location: eastern Ontario – 40km south Ottawa
July 2, 2012 4:16 pm
Your help ID’ing this blue butterfly which was visiting our garden would be much appreciated. About the size of a Monarch.
Signature: Rick

Male Black Swallowtail

Hi Rick,
This is a male Black Swallowtail.  Male Black Swallowtails lack the have more pronounced yellow coloration while female Black Swallowtails have more blue dusting.  The caterpillars are known as carrot worms and they are frequently found on parsley as well.  We just posted a nice series of photos of the Black Swallowtail Caterpillars.

Hi Daniel (Mr. Bugman), thanks so much for your reply.   This is great to know, and we’ll watch for the larval form.    We do have parsley and other some other herbs near the point that photo was taken, perhaps coincidence (and we don’t use chem pesticides).
I had decided that it is really time to start ID’ing the insects that we get, and it is not easy as a neophyte to work successfully through keys.   But a few positive IDs really help, as then I can go backwards through keys with more examples.
Much appreciated.