From the daily archives: "Sunday, December 22, 2013"

Subject: Black and Red Ohio Beetle
Location: Greater Cleveland Area
December 22, 2013 2:55 pm
I saw this beetle in my backyard today. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one like this. It was about 3/16″.
Signature: Tim

Leaf Beetle

Leaf Beetle

Hi Tim,
Our initial attempt to identify this Leaf Beetle in the family Chrysomelidae to the species level did not prove successful.  We will continue to research this matter.

Leaf Beetle

Leaf Beetle

Thank you Daniel!

Leaf Beetle

Leaf Beetle

Update:  February 4, 2015
Thanks to an update from Charlie indicating this is a species of Kuschelina, we were able to locate several similar looking species on BugGuide, including Kuschelina gibbitarsa, Kuschelina scripticollis and Kuschelina vians.

 

Subject: An strange at home
Location: Sao Paulo, Brazil
December 21, 2013 9:14 pm
I found this insect on the wall of the house. I was very curious about your species!
Thank you!
Signature: Claudio

Longicorn

Longicorn

Hi Claudio,
This is a Longicorn or Capricorn Beetle in the family Cerambycidae.  We decided to search for its identity in a marvelous coffee table book given to us by Monika that is called Living Jewels, and we found a matching photo of
Steirastoma brevis, however, searching for that name on the internet did not produce any images of beetles with the bold black and yellow pattern of your beetle.  Our first hit online was an image of a postage stamp from Argentina on a site with Cerambycid stamps, but again, the color is not as bold as your individual.  You need to scroll down the page to find the alphabetized scientific name.  We then located an image on the Living Jewels site from the same page as our Living Jewels book image, but it is another member of the same genus, and we would not entirely discount that your beetle might be Steirastoma marmoratus.  A pale specimen is picture on Insect Life Forms.  Again, the colors are not as bright, and the spelling is different, but Steirastoma breve is pictured on BioLib.  Our favorite bit of information we found was of a fashion design blogger identified only as 1080741630 who was inspired to design a fabric print based on the markings of the beetle.  Scroll down to view the citation which reproduces the pattern but does not include an image of the beetle.  The blogger writes:  “I studied the beetle Steirastoma brevis for the brief ‘colour and patterns in wildlife’ experimenting with colour, texture and pattern. By contacting different fabric suppliers in New york, Paris and London, i was able to decide what fabric was best suited to my brief. From here I decided on marino wool for felting as the bold colour was so effective.”  We believe we have the genus identification correct, but the species name remains in question.  Perhaps Cesar Crash or one of our other readers will be able to provide additional information.

Possibly Steirastoma brevis

Possibly Steirastoma brevis

  

Subject: Metal Looking Insect
Location: Oaxaca, Mexico
December 22, 2013 8:39 am
I found this insect on my metal balcony rail. It is 2.5 to 3cms in body length and blended in so well with the metal color that I almost did not see it. It is in the hills of Oaxaca, Mexico.
Signature: Paul Coleman

Wheel Bug

Wheel Bug

Hi Paul,
This is a predatory Assassin Bug commonly called a Wheel Bug,
Arilus cristatus, or a closely related species in the same genus.  According to the Featured Creatures website:  “The wheel bug occurs throughout Florida. It has been reported from Rhode Island westward through Iowa and Nebraska to California, and southward to Texas and Florida. Blatchley (1926) included Mexico and Guatemala in its range. Wygodzinsky (1949) recognized four species of Arilus in this New World genus, but only cristatus occurs in the United States.”

Thanks very much for this information. It’s always nice to identify what I am taking pictures of.
 Paul Coleman, Earthwalker Ambassador of the Culture of Peace Initiative (CPI) , a United Nations-designated Peace Messenger Initiative, and Member of the Council Advisors for Pathways To Peace, The International Secretariat to CPI. Charity Ambassador to The Living Rainforest

Subject: What are these bugs
Location: Tallahassee Fl
December 22, 2013 8:17 am
Can you identify these bugs ?
Signature: Tom

Mating Harlequin Stink Bugs

Mating Harlequin Stink Bugs

Hi Tom,
Yes we can.  These are mating Harlequin Stink Bugs and they are considered plant pests on broccoli, kale and other plants in the cabbage family.  Don’t look for chewed leaves as evidence of damage, however, as these are True Bugs with mouths designed to pierce and suck fluids.  They feed on the nutritious fluids in the plant leaves and often damage isn’t noticed until the health of the plant is severely compromised.

Subject: What kind of worm is this?
Location: southern California
December 21, 2013 8:46 pm
Hi, I live in southern California, and was outside getting some leaves out of my pool. It was about 55 degrees, rather typical for this time of year. I live in 91381. There was some leftover moisture from my sprinklers that had accumulated on the concrete hardscape. I noticed this weird looking, worm like bug. I have seen one like this last year. Sunny day, background is wet concrete.
The odd thing is that the color and markings resembled a baby snake, sort of. The head has an ever-changing shape that generally looks like a semi circle, or a fan shape. This bug moved like a worm. What is it? Is it dangerous? I have a Labrador Retriever that is outside, often and want to make sure there are no concerns for any of us.
Your help is greatly appreciated.
Signature: MPS

Arrowhead Flatworm

Arrow-Headed Flatworm

Dear MPS,
This oddity is an Arrow-Headed Flatworm, one of the Planaria, and we believe it is
Bipalium kewensis.  According to Charles Hogue in his landmark book Insects of the Los Angeles Basin:  “the species was discovered in 1878 in the greenhouses of Kew Gardens near London, hence its scientific name.  It has a wide distribution in warm climates.  It needs a moist habitat and it is usually encountered near outdoor water faucets, where the soil often remains wet.  It original home is unknown but is possibly the Indo-Malayan region.  … These are benign creatures — they do not damage plants or cause any medical problems.”  We suspect that populations of this species get established in new locations when plants are purchased from nurseries.

Arrow-Headed Flatworm

Arrow-Headed Flatworm

Update:  Benign or Not???
Thanks to a comment from Barbara, we decided to do a bit more research and we found some interesting information.  The Dirt Doctor states:  “Rather than helping control termite larvae, grubs and other pests, etc. it seems that it is only a destructive pest that needs to be gotten rid of.  It only eats earthworms. The predatory land planarian is no friend of earthworms.  In fact, they are parasites that eat earthworms and can wipe out entire populations.”  Calling the Arrow-Headed Flatworm a parasite does not seem accurate to us.  A more correct term would be predator.  The Red Worm Composting website states:  “Land planarians can be a serious earthworm predator in certain parts of the world – generally they are more of a threat in warmer regions, but certain species are found in more temperate zones as well. They are particularly dangerous because they can reproduce incredibly quickly, and have been reported to wipe out an entire worm population (in a worm farm) in a matter of days.”  The two previous citations come from sites that recommend worm farming, and that is not necessarily a natural environment for the worms as they live in confinement.  The chances of a Land Planarian wiping out all the worms in a garden seem incredibly remote as the worms in a typical garden are not confined.  According to the Galveston County Master Gardeners Beneficials in the Garden page on Land Planaria:  “Now the good news . . . Land Panarians are effective predators as they will eat slugs and many types of harmful insect larvae. The thought of having a beneficial that preys on slugs should be encouraging!  But now the not-so-good news . . . while all of this sounds rather benign, the land planarian is not necessarily without flaws (at least from a gardener’s perspective—but Mother Nature does not operate in such black-and-white perspectives). Like an earthworm, it burrows in moist soil, but it can exhibit much more sinister epicurean habits. Although it will eat slugs and harmful insect larvae, the Land Planarian will also dine on earthworms!”
  The bottom line is that any species, however seemingly benign it might be, can negatively affect the natural ecosystem when it is introduced.  The Arrow-Headed Flatworm is an introduced species, so we will tag it as an Invasive Exotic species.  The larger issue here is how human behavior has irrevocably changed the ecology of the planet by introducing foreign plants and animals, either intentionally for food and decoration, or accidentally, and then how those introduced species interface with native plants and animals.  Once the factors of agriculture and animal husbandry are considered, the waters get very murky.  If a native meadow with native milkweed is destroyed to plant corn on many acres, and then some insect is introduced that decimates the corn crop, is the insect the invasive exotic or is the corn and the farmer who planted the corn to blame?  Sadly, that ship sailed long ago.