From the monthly archives: "January 2013"

Subject: Fern-Looking Green Caterpillar in Thailand
Location: Chon Buri, Thailand
January 30, 2013 7:27 am
Hi there,
It’s Teacher Becky again from Chon Buri, Thailand. This little critter was found on my gate two days ago (you’ll see the padlock to give you a size reference). After posting to my first grade class Facebook page – it seems many Thai people haven’t seen before either. As a community of learners, we’d really like to know so we can do further research in our class. Thank you!
Signature: Teacher Becky

Common Baron Caterpillar

Dear Teacher Becky,
We are happy you came back to us with another question.  Believe it or not, this is a Caterpillar.  More specifically, it is a Stinging Slug Caterpillar in the family Limacodidae.  Some members of this family produce a nasty skin reaction if they are accidentally encountered, so they should be handled with caution, or better yet, not handled at all.  We have not been able to determine a species for you, however, we did locate a matching image on the Photography Thailand Forum which we now believe is incorrect.

Ed. Note:  Because we have been fooled in the past, we are checking with Keith Wolfe if this might be a relative of the Archduke which we posted in the past.  It seems to be a perfect match to the Common Baron CaterpillarEuthalia aconthea.  That is supported with the information on the ButterflyCircle Checklist website which states:  “The caterpillar is green with a yellow dorsal stripe. Its unique appearance makes it appear like a walking TV antenna with its branched spines and processes extending way beyond the caterpillar’s body.”

Wow – just so fascinating  And shame on me for forgetting some important details – such as I have a gigantic mango tree in my front yard.
This is a great experience for my little Thai first graders to practice their identification skills.  Thanks for the quick response!

Keith Wolfe confirms Baron identification
Daniel, yes, this immature butterfly is certainly one of Thailand’s many species of Barons (Euthalia).
Best wishes,

Subject: what is this?
Location: Northern Kentucky
January 29, 2013 7:42 pm
Hi! It is January and these things are all over inside my house! It looks like a striped lightning bug?
Signature: Jessica

Banded Ash Borer

Hi Jessica,
We believe this is a Banded Ash Borer,
Neoclytus caprea, one of the wood boring beetles in the family Cerambycidae.  That is the closest match we could find on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “It often emerges indoors from firewood.  Sawlogs may become infested within 20 days of felling during the summery.”  That supports our initial response to you that we suspected they emerged from firewood.  You do not have to worry about them laying eggs in your furniture or structural wood.  The warmth indoors caused them to emerge early.

Subject: Black and Blue insect
Location: Canberra Botanic gardens
January 29, 2013 11:00 pm
Was gathering pollen the same as bee’s
Signature: not signed

Neon Cuckoo Bee

This appears to be a Neon Cuckoo Bee, Thyreus nitidulus, which we identified on the Brisbane Insect website.  According the the Brisbane Insect website:  “The Neon Cuckoo Bee are cleptoparasitic in the nest of Amegilla sp.. Neon Cuckoo Bee female does not make its own nest. It lays egg in the nest of Blue-banded bee. Female places an egg in a partially completed brood cell. After the blue-banded bee finishes provision and seals the brood cell, the cuckoo bee egg hatches into larvae and feeds on the provisions stored by Blue-banded bee. ”  This is a new species for our site.

Thank you Daniel. Only wish the pic came out better.

Subject: possible snake caterpillar?
Location: Yotau, Bolivia, South America
January 29, 2013 9:23 pm
My friend and I discovered this caterpillar on a papaya tree on a work break in July. I contacted National Geographic a few months ago to see if they could help me ID the bug, but I haven’t gotten a response yet, and I really want to know what this bug is. I would, however, like to keep the photo credits.
Can you help me ID this bug?
Signature: Kaylynn

Alope Sphinx

Dear Kaylynn,
We are nearly certain this is a Hornworm, the caterpillar of a moth in the family Sphingidae, and one of your photos does show what appears to be a caudal horn, a trait common to most caterpillars in the family.  There are several caterpillars in the family that mimic snakes, including this
Hemeroplanes triptolemus  which we posted back in 2005.  We have gone a bit dizzy clicking through most of the possibilities on the Sphingidae of the Americas Bolivia page with no success.  We have decided to contact Bill Oehlke to see if he can provide a species identification.

Alope Sphinx

Update:  Thanks to a comment from Ryan, we see that the Alope Sphinx, Erinnyis alope, is a close match.  The photos on the Sphingidae of the Americas site were one of the few we did not check.

Alope Sphinx


Subject: Creepy Kigali Caterpiller
Location: Kigali, Rwanda
January 29, 2013 6:33 am
What is this? We are american Expats living in Rwanda, the Rwandans were terrified of this thing. I can’t find anything online about it. We have been seeing these in our yard.
Signature: Joe Marlin

Fulvous Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Dear Joe,
This is the Caterpillar of a Sphinx Moth in the family Sphingidae.  Sphinx Caterpillars are commonly called Hornworms.  They are not dangerous.  They are not poisonous and they will not sting nor bite.  We will try to determine the species.

Update:  January 31, 2013
We realized that this is most likely the caterpillar of a Death’s Head Hawkmoth.  You can see some wonderful images on the Natural History Museum website.

Correction Courtesy of Bostjan Dvorak
Subject: Rwanda caterpillar found on 29th January
February 3, 2013 1:52 pm
Dear Bugman, dear Joe,
what an interesting discovery!
This is a caterpillar of Coeleonia fulvinotata. It’s caterpillars look very much like those of Acherontia atropos – in both variations, the yellow blue-striped and the greyish pattern. But in contrary to the death’s head hawkmoth’s larva, this one has a thinner and longer horn, a slightly different shape of lateral stripes – and it will pupate to a thinner pupa with a long curved proboscis case very similar to those in the most american Manduca or the asian Psilogramma species. All the 5 species of the exclusively african genus Coelonia are very similar in shape and colour pattern to the Acherontia as adult moths as well, but they have a very long proboscis and feed from flowers howering above them. (Indeed they look like a combination between a Death’s head and a Convolvulus hawk-moth or a Tobacco hornworm, with their brownish marbled wing pattern and yellow body stripes, and long proboscis; in fact, this is a closely related genus, having evolved from the same ancestor as Acherontia, which developped separately in a very special way, with it’s short proboscis and unusual way of life, specialized on feeding from bee-hives, a unique one among the Sphingidae.) Since the moths of all Coelonia species (like this one: C. fulvinotata, the “Fulvous hawk-moth”) don’t migrate and therefore stay confined to afrotropical areas, they are almost unknown, or at least far less known than the migrating genera Acherontia and Agrius. The similarity of the caterpillars in both known patterns, in Acherontia and Coelonia, is really fascinating, making evident that these shapes and colours are a good condition to survive in their common homeland region…
Please continue with Your fascinating site, presenting these great beings!
Best wishes from Berlin,
Bostjan Dvorak
Signature: Bostjan Dvorak

Thanks for your correction Bostjan.  Do you have a link with an image of the caterpillar?

Thanks for Your answer, Daniel; yes, some of them are here, eg.: (Photos taken by Constanza Michelle in Yokadouma, shown on the site Papillons de Poitou-Charentes) (Photos taken by the botanist Bart Wursten, shown on Flickr) (Photos by Sebastien Cally, taken in Madagaskar and showing the other colour pattern, also known in A. atropos)
Best wishes,

Subject: Orb Spider?
Location: Northeastern Utah
January 28, 2013 6:27 pm
Here is a spider I found while doing some trimming in Northeastern Utah. Pretty cool looking
Signature: Bryan

Banded Argiope

Hi Bryan,
This really is a beautiful example of a Banded Argiope, Argiope trifasciata.  It is indeed an Orbweaver.  Despite their large size and noticeable coloration and markings, members of the genus Argiope pose no threat to humans, but it is possible that they might bite if carelessly handled.