From the monthly archives: "December 2012"

Subject: Strange looking bug
Location: Perth, Western Australia
December 2, 2012 10:18 am
I must say, I’ve never seen anything like this one before. I quickly ran in to grab my phone and snap up some of these pictures. At first it wasn’t moving and I thought it was just something that had fallen off a tree, but then it decided to run! I’ve been looking everywhere for something like this and have absolutely no idea.
Signature: David, Perth, Australia

Pie Dish Beetle

Hi David,
We love the common name of this Pie Dish Beetle, one of the Darkling Beetles in the family Tenebrionidae.  The Brisbane Insect website identifies three species of Pie Dish Beetles in the genus
Pterohelaeus, but they do not state how to distinguish them from one another.

Pie Dish Beetle

Subject: Two Butterflies Enjoying Our Weeds (I Mean Wildflowers)
Location: Southern Coryell County, central Texas
December 2, 2012 2:21 pm
Hello again! I’m so glad we didn’t mow yet. These two butterflies were enjoying the dandelions in the backyard today, Sunday, Dec. 2nd, around noon. Warm day, partly cloudy, 78 degrees F., in central Texas. Using the Bug Guide and The Butterflies and Moths of North America (online), I’m making a guess as to which species they are. Are they a pearl crescent (Phyciodes tharos) and a queen butterfly (danaus gilippus)? The Butterflies and Moths site has a very cool search vehicle in which I was able to enter country, state, and county, and it generated a verified list of recent sightings in our county. Very helpful in narrowing the field, especially with the crescents (there seem to be so many similar ones). Thank you for any help or corrections. Your site is so informative!
Signature: Ellen

Phaon Crescent and Queen

Hi Ellen,
We are certain many of our northern readers are envious at your December butterfly sighting.  You did quite well on the identification.  We agree that the lower butterfly is a Queen,
Danaus gilippus, and chances are good they can be spotted year round in Texas as well as Florida. 

Phaon Crescent and Queen

We disagree with your identification of the Pearl Crescent.  We actually believe it to be a different species in the same genus.  The Pearl Crescent is a highly variable species, and you might be correct, but we are favoring the Phaon Crescent, Phyciodes phaon, as a closer match.  We are basing this on the pattern of the light irregular bar in the center of the forewing as well as the surrounding patterns which closely matches this image on BugGuide.  Crescents can be very difficult to identify to the species level, though the genus is rather distinctive.

Phaon Crescent, we believe


Subject: What is this bug???
Location: South Africa, Grassland biome
December 2, 2012 11:08 am
We came across this bug while hiking, its black with white legs, it looks like it has 8 legs but it could be 6 and 2 antennae. It was found in a rock, summer time, cloudy weather, on a hill… hopefully this helps, I’m not sure what bug it is. Thanks so much,

White-Legged Tok-Tokkie

Hi Abigail,
We believe this is a Darkling Beetle in the family Tenebrionidae, but we have not been able to verify that speculation with any matching images online including at the Beetles of Africa catalog page nor at Beetles in the Bush.

Thanks.. I can’t seem to find any images of the Darkling bug I found.. are there any sites or even books I can search ????

White-Legged Tok-Tokkie

Update:  December 3, 3012
Thanks to a comment posted by Cesar Crash of Brazil, we now know that this is a Darkling Beetle known as the White-Legged Tok-Tokkie,
Dichtha incantatoris.  That has to be one of the best common names we have heard in a long time and it was found in Beetles in the Bush which links to this photograph by Eckart Stolle.

Subject: Bug Love- Mating Zebra Longwings
Location: Orlando, Florida
December 2, 2012 1:58 am
Hi Daniel and team. My husband got this shot when he was watching one of our zebra longwings (the Florida state butterfly)emerge from it’s chrysalis. He couldn’t believe his eyes when the other one flew up and started mating with it. We’ve noticed some of the butterflies coming around the cocoons trolling for mates. But, we also saw one of the trollers frantically knock a newly emerged one off it’s cocoon and onto the ground. We were wondering, do males fight each other? We know now to keep other butterflies away from fresh ones until they’re wings are hard. Anyway, enjoy the pic from Florida, the state of the year round butterflies.
Signature: Elizabeth

Mating Zebra Longwings

Hi Elizabeth,
Thanks so much for sending your photo of mating Zebra Longwings.  We don’t normally think of butterflies as being aggressive, however, males of some species will defend territory.  We will try to research this a bit more.

Subject: Morpho telemachus in Sao Paulo state, Brazil?
Location: Sao Paulo state (60km from Sao Paulo city)
December 2, 2012 6:36 am
Hi Bugman – I cam across this formation this morning. It’s in secondary forest in Sao Paulo state, Brazil, in December (nearly summertime, but warm and wet time of year.)
I wondered if it was Morpho telemachus? We do have lots of the large blue butterfly in the area.
YouTube video I took this morning here:
Many thanks,
Signature: Alex

Morpho Caterpillar Aggregation

Hi Alex,
Though this Caterpillar resembles images we have posted in the past of Morpho telemachus, there does appear to be some differences.  Your photo lacks critical clarity, so we can’t be certain.  We will try to contact Keith Wolfe to see if he can provide a definitive species.

Keith Wolfe provides an identification
Dear Alex and Daniel,
Not Morpho telemachus, but rather the red “taturanas” of its close relative M. hercules.  Here are Brazilian photos of the same species from São Paulo ( and Espírito Santo (  For additional information, please see –
Blue skies,

Many thanks Daniel – I took some more photos this morning, which I hope are better quality. I have noticed that there are lots of these formations of them around and about the same area. I also attach a photo of the pile of feces below them, in case that is specific to them. However, they don’t appear to be going anywhere!
I hope these help,
Best Wishes

Morpho hercules Caterpillar aggregation

Thanks Alex,
Your new photos are much better quality.  We are trying to get some clarification on the taxonomy of
Morpho taturanas from Keith Wolfe.  We cannot determine if it is a separate species or a subspecies.

Morpho frass

Keith Wolfe clarifies ID:  Morpho hercules hercules
… Well, so much for my feeble attempt to seem “worldly”.  Taturanas (note quotes in my original reply) is Brazilian/Portuguese for hairy moth caterpillars that are potentially fatal to touch, and while red Morpho larvae such as these do appear similarly dangerous to the casual observer, they are no more venomous than any other immature butterfly.  Thus, I believe the complete ID is Morpho hercules hercules Dalman, 1823, which by the way are probably nocturnal feeders.

Thanks for the clarification Keith. 

Many thanks Daniel and Keith – I could not work out how to reply on the website, but thank you both anyway! So – it’s most likely the Morpho hercules hercules Dalman, 1823
I will keep an eye on them, and see what happens.
Best Wishes

More from Keith Wolfe
Olá Alex,
Congratulations on finding these handsome caterpillars, which are infrequently encountered and thus little understood.  Upon reaching full maturity, their color will begin to fade as they wander away in search of a safe place to pupate, so you might want to confine a couple before then to watch the miraculous transformation into a regal butterfly.  Children especially will be fascinated!  I have never seen this species’ chrysalis, but suspect it is a beautiful jade green.  Please let Daniel and me know the outcome.
Question: What is their approximate length and/or size?  May I please see your latest larval photos at 1200 pixels or better, which are solely for my personal reference and scientific research?  Muito obrigado for your time and kind reply, Alex, and best wishes from California!

Thanks to Alex for adding to our archive and to Keith for his always valuable caterpillar identifications.  Alas, What’s That Bug? hasn’t a single Morpho chrysalis image, and we would love additional documentation if possible.

Update:  December 17, 2013
Hi Keith and Daniel – I hope you are both well.
I just wanted to let you know that the same red caterpillars are back in exactly the same location as last year – and by exactly, I mean to the inch! They have only been there a week, but it’s the same large colony. There was a smaller colony last year in another location that has not returned, but I am keeping an eye open for them – they are slightly later this year than last, but not much.
My wife found this Brazilian Facebook page which is a wildlife reserve that has the same, and they have quite a good video: link here: I hope you can see that?
All the best for Christmas and the New Year ahead,
Sito Cambui,
Alex Rudd

Thanks for the update Alex.  No new photos?

Keith Wolfe provides a correction
Greetings Alex, very nice to hear from you again!  FYI, the clustered red caterpillars in the referenced video are a different species (Morpho iphitus) than what you kindly shared previously (M. hercules).  The two also feed on the leaves of entirely different trees — M. hercules, moonseed family (Menispermaceae); M. iphitus, bean family (Fabaceae).
Best wishes for good health and happiness in the coming year,

Any idea what this is
Location:  Deerfield Beach, FL
December 1. 2-12
Taken in Deerfield Beach, fl Nov 2012.

Deformed Butterfly

Dear FXS,
This appears to be a Butterfly based on the clubbed antennae.  It also appears that there was some problem during metamorphosis that caused its wings to fail to expand and harden.  The hindwings also appear to be lacking in scales.  This is a most perplexing photo.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to assist in the identification.