From the yearly archives: "2012"

Subject: aussietrev Orange Potter Wasp stocking the Larder
Location: Nth Burnett. Queensland Australia
December 26, 2012 5:05 pm
Hi guys,
This Orange Potter has been busy for days building a large nest on an old pulley in my shed. Here she is shoving the second of two caterpillars into one of the chambers. The end of the caterpillar is pushed into the chamber and then she pushes it bit by bit until the entire caterpillar is inside, then quickly seals the chamber over. To her right is a freshly sealed chamber as well shown by the slightly paler disc of mud. At some stage in her foraging she has been in contact with a spider web and has a small spider hitching a ride on her leg.
Signature: Aussietrev

Orange Potter Wasp provisions nest with Caterpillar

Hi Trevor,
Thanks for sending your beautiful photo of a beautiful Potter Wasp provisioning her nest.  We found her identified on the Brisbane Insect website as the Orange Potter Wasp,
Eumenes latreilli.

Hi Daniel ,
A bit of extra information. Watching her build the next chamber and start to provision it, after inserting the first caterpillar and flying off to find a second, a small (I think tachinid) fly that had been sitting patiently nearby flew into the opening and, I assume, took advantage of her work to lay some eggs of its own.
I would think this would be a symbiotic relationship rather than parasitic of the wasp larvae as it would be doubtful the fly would be sufficiently strong to break out of the mud nest on its own. Probably share the caterpillar bodies until the wasp makes an escape hatch for them? What do you think? Have you heard of this behaviour before?

Thanks for the update Trevor.  Kleptoparasitism, or one insect (or other creature) stealing food that has been gathered by another, is common enough.  We can’t think of what the advantage of sharing food would have for the Potter Wasp. You are right that an adult Tachinid Fly  does not have the type of mouth that could chew its way out of the pot.  Let us know if a Wasp emerges from that particular chamber or if it remains as a sealed crypt.  Perhaps there is some enzyme or other substance secreted by the Tachinid Larva that makes it unpalatable to the Potter Wasp Larva to avoid being eaten.

Subject: Did Santa Leave These?
Location: Glendora, California
December 26, 2012 3:31 pm
Dear Bug Expert,
Yesterday (December 25) we found 100 small specimens in our salt water swimming pool. They were crawling up the sides of the pool, but would lose traction and fall back down to the bottom. Today there are only a few left. They are more active when fished out of the pool and jumped around and scurried off. And so did we…
They are small shrimp-like creatures with legs under their bodies and antennae-like feelers. We saw light and dark colored specimens (light attached). Oak trees, a lemon tree and crepe myrtle trees are next to the pool. The specimens look somewhat like silverfish. Thank you!
Signature: Freaked Out Family of Bug Sighters

Lawn Shrimp

Dear Freaked Out Family of Bug Sighters,
You have Lawn Shrimp or House Hoppers, terrestrial amphipods that live in damp landscaping.  Interestingly, their exoskeletons absorb water, so if it is too wet, they will drown, but if it is too dry, they dessicate.  They are not native to Southern California, but they have naturalized in the well watered landscaping we support in Southern California.  They are generally not even noticed until there is a heavy rain and they seek shelter indoors.  Then they quickly dry up and die, leaving reddish carcasses.  Other than being a nuisance, they are not considered to be pests or dangerous.

Dear Bug Expert,
Thank you very much for answering our Christmas wish! So very prompt too. I called my adult children that had just left here and were on their way back to their own homes and they were relieved. My son in law actually was the one that Googled you and went into the very cold water to retrieve our specimen this morning. We have had a lot of rains lately, so assume that is why it happened, sorta freaked us out 🙂
Happy New Year to you and thank you for your help,
Not so Freaked Out Family of Bug Sighters

We are happy that we were able to clear up the mystery for you.

Subject: Beetle Identification
Location: Toronto, Ontario, CA
December 26, 2012 12:33 pm
Hello, I found a beetle on a Goldenrod plant on the flower in late Summer. I have tried identifying it myself, but it was not in my two insect field guides, nor was it in the internet. It’s head and abdomen looked similar to Blister Beetles and Oil Beetles, so I did some researching on them. Nothing the same. The closest one was the Margined Blister Beetle, but instead of lines on the perimeter of the elytra, there were blotches on the top instead. After all the researching with no results, I began to think it was a new species of insect. The beetle was approximately two centimeters in length. I found it in Etobicoke, Toronto. The Goldenrod it was found on was just outside a small dirt trail in a large field with small shrubs and almost no trees where few people walk. That day, there were hundreds of Locust Borers out on the Goldenrods as well. Please help, for I have been looking for this beetle’s identity for 5 months now. Thank you!!
Signature: Isaac R.

Blister Beetle

Dear Isaac,
Thank you for sending a larger resolution image.  That 9K file was very tiny.  We agree that this is a Blister Beetle, and while we cannot provide you with a species, we believe you were very close with the Margined Blister Beetle guess.  It is our opinion that this Blister Beetle, which may have coloration that is an anomaly, is also in the genus
Epicauta.  You can see many species represented on BugGuide that look very similar to your beetle.

Subject: Huntsman Spider in West Virginia?
Location: Harpers Ferry, WV
December 25, 2012 10:51 am
Hello! I came home one evening to find this beauty on my front door! I live in Harpers Ferry, WV, and have never encountered one like this. He/she was black, about an inch long in the body (about three to four inches overall), black and shiny. It was aggressive, rearing up at me when I shined a flashlight on it. This photo was taken the first week of December when we had an unseasonable warm spell. Your help with identification would be greatly appreciated!!
Signature: L. in West Virginia

Possibly Fishing Spider

Dear L.,
We do not know of any black Huntsman Spiders found in North America.  Given the size you describe, our best guess is a Fishing Spider in the genus
Dolomedes, but alas, there is not enough detail in your photo to be certain.  When we lightened the image, we could make out striping in the legs which is consistent with the Fishing Spider identification.  Female Fishing Spiders defend their eggs, and the behavior you describe would also support the possibility that this is a female Fishing Spider defending her eggs.  Fishing Spiders, though large and frightening, are perfectly harmless.

Thank you so much! I wondered if this might be a fishing spider as I
live right between the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers…I just never
seen one so far from the actual water and never one this dark in its
coloring! I am glad to know I can let visitors to the area know,
should they see one of these guys wandering around, that they are
perfectly harmless and should be allowed to go about their business.
Score one for the big little creatures of the world!

Subject: Please identify this insect
Location: Southeast Florida – Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge
December 26, 2012 12:36 pm
I photographed these 2 red insects (with black wings) at the Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge in Southeast Florida (Palm Beach County).
What are they?
Signature: Robert Goldman

Mating Cotton Stainers

Dear Robert,
These are very nice photos of mating Cotton Stainers,
Dysdercus suturellus.  According to BugGuide:  “found on many plants, incl. cotton, hibiscus, oranges, etc” and  it is a “a pest of cotton; ‘Feeding on the cotton bolls stains them an indelible yellow as plant sap seeps out of the puncture wound, and microorganisms and fungus grows at the site. The feeding habit also damages the fibres by cutting them, and affects the growth of the cotton boll.'”

Mating Cotton Stainers

Hey Daniel.  Thank you for the very prompt reply to my request.  Glad you like the photos.  Interesting identification.  We don’t have much of a cotton crop here in South Florida.
If you would like to see more of my work, I invite you to connect with my Blair Photography page at
Thanks again,

Subject: Unidentified Bug
Location: Swan View, Western Australia
December 26, 2012 7:38 am
Hello. Can you help me with the identity of this strange looking insect.It was about 2cm long. I photographed it in late October in Swan View, Western Australia.
Andrew T-P
Signature: Bug ID

Green Looper or Tobacco Looper???

Dear Andrew,
Your Owlet Moth really looks to us like the Tobacco Looper,
Chrysodeixis argentifera, pictured on the Brisbane Insect Website as well as on the Butterfly House website where this description is given:  “The adult moth is predominently brown in colour, with bunched hairs on its head which look like a short pair of horns. On each fore wing is a silvery figure of eight and a tiny silver ‘S’. This silver ‘S’ distinguishes it from the related species: Chrysodeixis eriosoma, which is otherwise very similar. They both have a wingspan of about 3 cms. Some adults had grey patches adorning their fore wings. The hind wings are fawn in colour with a dark brown terminal area.”  That description causes us to believe this might actually be the Green Looper, Chrysodeixis eriosoma, because of the lack of the tiny silver “S”.  Butterfly House also has a page on the Green Looper.