From the monthly archives: "November 2013"

Subject: Bumble Bee Assult
Location: Central Michigan
November 27, 2013 6:51 pm
Greetings, I took this picture back in 2005 when out of a mid morning walk through a semi wooded in Michigan. Eastern side of the northern L.P. (Yale if ya can find it on a map). I recently came across the image again and I’m baffled by what is attacking(?) that poor bee. Doesn’t look like a mosquito, but does appear to attacking like one. Wish a had a shot from the other side, but they both took off when I tried moving around them. Wondering if you can help identify the attacker, and clarify if this is an aggressive attack leading to the bees death or just a blood meal feeding like mosquitos do? Thanks
Signature: Glenn

Golden Northern Bumble Bee attacked by possibly Tachinid Fly

Golden Northern Bumble Bee and Syrphid FLy

Hi Glenn,
We believe, but we are not certain, that your bee is a Golden Northern Bumble Bee,
Bombus fervidus, and you can compare your image to photos posted to BugGuide.  We are guessing the fly is a Tachinid Fly, and according to BugGuide:  “Larval stages are parasitoids of other arthropods; hosts include members of 11 insect orders, centipedes, spiders, and scorpions. Some tachinids are very host-specific, others parasitize a wide variety of hosts. The most common hosts are caterpillars. Most tachinids deposit their eggs directly on the body of their host, and it is not uncommon to see caterpillars with several tachinid eggs on them. Upon hatching the larva usually burrows into its host and feeds internally. Full-grown larva leaves the host and pupates nearby. Some tachinids lay their eggs on foliage; the larvae are flattened and are called planidia; they remain on the foliage until they find a suitable host.”  We will check with Eric Eaton to get his opinion on this photo.

Eric Eaton provides some input
Looks like a male bumble bee of some kind, with a syrphid riding on it (Allograpta, Toxomerus, or something else, awkward angle at which to make an identification of either insect).

Thanks for the quick reply, and information. Has a tough shot, had the camera about a foot over my head trying to see the screen at a pretty shallow angle. But it’s had me wondering back then and now. I presume it leads to the death of the bumble bee over time. Seems internal feeding wouldn’t bode well for the host =(
Hope ya had a good Thanksgiving

Hi again Glenn,
Eric Eaton believes the fly to be a Flower Fly in the family Syrphidae.  If that is the case, it most likely just alighted on the Bumble Bee and there was no predation involved.

Subject: bug/larvae attaking and eating millipede
Location: Tehachapi CA
November 27, 2013 12:50 pm
Hi there bugman, last night I was out letting my dog go to the bathroom when he started rubbing on the ground. When I checked what he was rubbing against, I found a millipede being attcked or grabbed by some type of larvae. I caught the 2 animals and now the millipede is dead with its head off and the larvae eating away at it. The larvae looks segmented with six legs, black in color with the sides a dark brown. I have never seen this before so I wanted to know what it was. The third picture is showing the bug eating the millipede inside the head.
Signature: Angel

Glowworm (below) will Millipede Prey

Glowworm (below) will Millipede Prey

Dear Angel,
If you checked out this dramatic occurrence in darkness, you might have noticed the predatory larva glowing, because it is a Glowworm.  Glowworms prey upon Millipedes and we have nice documentation on our site of an eastern Glowworm eating a Millipede.  Your species if probably a Western Banded Glowworm
Zarhipis integripennis, and you may verify its identity on BugGuide.

Glowworm Eats Millipede

Glowworm Eats Millipede

Thank you very much, Daniel Marlos. What is interesting is that I checked the bug guide and it says that these bugs are active during Jan-Feb, but it is late November and getting really cold. Well anyway, thanks again for your help.


Subject: Red Footed Cannibalfly?
Location: Sydney, Australia
November 27, 2013 7:14 pm
I believe this is a Red Footed Cannibalfly, after seeing similar pictures on your site! Thank you for your informative pages, I was just so curious to identify this insect when I saw it catch a bee and fly away with it!
I am in Australia, and it is summer – have never seen or heard of these before… are they common to Australia? I was wondering where they typically live/breed (trees? burrows?) and are they harmful to pets at all?
Signature: Evie.

Robber Fly with prey

Robber Fly with prey

Hi Evie,
The Red Footed Cannibalfly is a North American species of Robber Fly, and your individual is a Robber Fly as well, but a different species.  It appears that your large Robber Fly is feeding on a Honey Bee, and bees and wasps are common prey for the large Robber Flies.  Your Robber Fly resembles this
Cerdistus species pictured on the Brisbane Insect website.

Subject: What is this??
Location: Gainesville, Georgia North
November 27, 2013 9:48 am
We live in North Georgia and I found this in our yard, completely terrifying.
What is this?
Signature: Emily

Pumpkin Spider is Harmless to Humans, but not to flying insects.

Pumpkin Spider is Harmless to Humans, but not to flying insects.

Dear Emily,
Don’t be terrified.  The Pumpkin Spider,
Araneus marmoreus, is not dangerous to humans, though we cannot guarantee the risk of not getting a bite at 0%.  We imagine that, if provoked, a large female Pumpkin Spider might bite, and though she does have venom, that venom is not considered harmful to humans, but it might result in localized swelling and tenderness.  Because of its timely submission, and because of the quality of your photograph, we are tagging your Pumpkin Spider as the Bug of the Month for December 2013.
We are curious exactly what being from Georgia North means.


Subject: your kindness & knowledge
November 27, 2013 2:31 pm
I cannot thank you enough for your consideration, kindness & knowledge you try to pass on to people.  The insect & arachnid world is amazing!  I have passed onto my son the NECESSARY kindness to all animals.  I’ve seen him rescue praying mantis (and others)  from death by shoe, etc.  We carry our visitors outside. I’ve been known to take spider egg mass’s into jars and into a safe place for the winter.  We take pictures of them and admire them.  I’ve been viewed as “odd”; these people need to be educated and that is where you fit right in! I’ve educated many people about as much as possible without forcing it upon them.  Knowledge is power.  Besides, they are small and we are HUGE! How much of a bully are these killing, uneducated jerks anyway!  Oh, sorry… that is how we feel about it.  I have to say, there are a few I have a hard time with; cockroaches, ticks and fleas.  Blood suckers are not in my “to be kind to” list.  I’m not perfect!  Keep up the fabulous work!
Signature: PAULA

Thanks so much for your passionate comment.  We have to admit that the invasive Argentine Ant, which we have heard called a Sugar Ant, is at the top of our “take no prisoners” list.

Subject: Pretty spider
Location: Malaysia
November 27, 2013 5:54 am
Hello, I’m Nur from Malaysia. Usually the spiders I found are the normal small house spiders. But this one I found recently on my yard is kind of weird. It is colourful and too big compared to the ones I usually found.
Is it poisonous or dangerous in any ways? I’m worried to let my little sisters to play there with that unknown spider around…
Signature: Curious child

Female and Male Orbweaver

Female and Male St Andrew’s Cross Spiders

Dear Curious child,
The large spider in your photos is a female Orbweaver in the genus Argiope, and they are not considered dangerous spiders.  Large specimens might bite and they do have venom, however the bite is not considered dangerous to humans.  There may be a painful local reaction with swelling and tenderness, but there will be no lasting damage in the event a bite occurs.  These spiders remain in their webs and they will not bite unless they are carelessly handled.  If you look closely, you will see a much smaller spider in the web.  This is the male.  There is often a great size discrepancy between female Orbweavers, which can get very large, and their mates, which might be as little as 1/100 the size of the female.  We will try to determine the species later in the day when we have additional time to do the research.

Pair of Orbweavers

Pair of St. Andrew’s Cross Spiders

Update:  November 30, 2013
It has been a slow mail day today, so we had a chance to get back to this posting.  Searching the genus
Argiope in Malaysia, we found a very similar image posted on this Malaysian Spider page, and they are identified as Argiope aemula.  Armed with a name, we then found A Guide to Common Singapore Spiders and the common name St. Andrew’s Cross Spider, however that common name is already shared by a different species of in the same genus that is found in AustraliaThe common name St. Andrew’s Cross Spider refers to the X shaped stabilimentum that is woven into the orb web and which is nicely illustrated in one of your photos.  Dave’s Garden also has a nice photo of your St. Andrew’s Cross Spider.