From the yearly archives: "2013"

Subject: Unidentified hairy caterpillar from the Sharjah Deserts
Location: Sharjah, UAE
January 9, 2013 1:31 am
I keep finding this hairy and brilliantly colored (for a desert species) caterpillar in the Sharjah deserts feeding on Haloxylon salicornicum every Jan – Mar cycle. In fact, I’m seeing it now for the 3rd straight year in a row. Any ideas on id. Some kind of moth caterpillar perhaps as most of the butterfly caterpillars are identifiable on the Arabian peninsula???
Signature: Ajmal

Unknown Caterpillar

Hi Ajmal,
We have been trying unsuccessfully to identify your caterpillar, which we suspect is either a Tussock Moth Caterpillar in the subfamily Arctiinae (see BugGuide for North American examples) or possibly in the Tent Caterpillar family Lasiocampidae (see BugGuide for North American examples).  Many caterpillars in those groups have utricating or stinging hairs, and that might be the reason for the orange warning or aposomatic coloration.  We did find this somewhat similar photo of Ad-dud ar-rabie (literally in Arabic “the spring worm”) on the Initiating a Response to the Degradation of Al Badia website, but it is not an exact match.

Unknown Caterpillar

Interestingly, the two visual matches we did locate were inquiry postings you made on Project Noah here in January 2012 and here with your 2011 sighting.  We will continue to research this matter and perhaps one of our readers will stumble upon an answer.

Unknown Caterpillar


January 8, 2013 6:04 pm
Signature: Mitchell

Polkadot Wasp Moth

Hi Mitchell,
This is a Polka Dot Wasp Moth.  It is a moth that mimics a wasp and it is not a predator.

Subject: caterpillar
Location: Bay area
January 8, 2013 1:12 pm
hi buggy
Tons of caterpillars on a flowering bush in Bay area. Has formed nests or webs. thanks for your help I donated $10.00 on paypal.
Signature: Tom

Sophora Worm

Hi Tom,
Thank you for your generous donation.  We don’t like to think that we devote additional time to the identifying submissions if someone has donated to the site, and generally we don’t even know that they have donated.  In light of your extremely generous donation, we have been obsessed with trying to identify your caterpillar.  We are happy you mentioned that the caterpillars formed webs, as that was very helpful.  Knowing the plant upon which the caterpillar or other insect is feeding is usually a tremendous advantage when it comes to identification.  Though we recognized this caterpillar as something we had somewhere in our archives, with nearly 16,000 posts, it is sometimes very difficult for us to find old postings when we cannot remember the name.  We found a match to your caterpillar on the Yard and Garden News of the University of Minnesota Extension website and it was identified as a Genista Broom Moth caterpillar,
Uresiphita reversalis.  The site states:  “An interesting caterpillar has been found apparently for the first time in Minnesota in several areas of the state. A genista broom moth caterpillar, Uresiphita reversalis, is about one inch long when fully grown. It’s a pretty insect with a black head with white markings and a slender yellowish green or mustard colored body. There is a series of black and white colored tubercles (raised spots) running down its body with white hairs coming out of them.  When gardeners have discovered this insect in Minnesota, it has been feeding on false indigo, Baptisia. According to BugGuide this caterpillar has also been reported to feed on “Acacia, Genista, Lupinus, Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora) and other pea family shrubs as well as Crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) and honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.).”  According to BugGuide, the caterpillar is called a Sophora Worm and this excellent explanation of the common names is provided:  “‘Sophora Worm’ is reference to the native host genus: Sophora.  ‘Genista Broom Moth’ is an odd common name for a native North American moth as Genista (common name of “broom”) is an Old World genus, family Fabaceae.   Numerous species of broom have been introduced into North America, some of which have become noxious invasives such as common broom (Cytisus scoparius), French broom (Genista monspessulana) and Spanish broom (Spartium junceum).”  Once we had the name and family, it was easy enough to locate our own 2005 archival image of a Genista Broom Moth Caterpillar.

hi Daniel
Thank you so much. I think you are too humble! $5 (what the default was for Paypal) is very inexpensive for the service! Don’t sell yourself short. I think there might be a little business in there if you develop the website with a simple drop down menu questionnaire e.g. tents, no tents, geographic area, etc , include picture and ask for $5.
Thanks so much again.
Tom Barnett

Subject: Moth Identification
Location: Richardson, ACT, Australia
January 7, 2013 6:53 am
Hi Bugman,
I have just found this stunning creature on my back wall after my two beagles were going crazy trying to catch it (I have since moved it into a tree in the front yard where it will be safe)
From looking at other posts and pics on your site I tink it maybe a ghost moth but am unsure. I have never seen anything like it before. At first I thought it was a Bogong Moth as we have been known to get quite a few of those here in Canberra but he is the wrong shape.
Would love to know a bit more about it of you are able to help. Sorry the pics are the greatest I didnt want to startle it and I only had my mobile phone.
Signature: Susan Mitchell

Woodt Moth

Dear Susan,
You are correct that this is a Goat Moth or Wood Moth in the family Cossidae.  The caterpillars are edible wood borers known as Witchetty Grubs, with the following alternate spellings from Butterfly House:  “Witjuti, Witchedy, Wichetty, Witchety, witchjetti.”
  According to the Australian Museum:  “The Giant Wood Moth is the heaviest moth in the world, with some females weighing up to 30 grams.”  We suspect the heaviest females are full of eggs, and when Daniel was doing research for The Curious World of Bugs, he learned that “Currently holding the record among nonsocial insects, a ghost moth from Australia is reported to have laid 29,100 eggs; another 15,000 were discovered when she was dissected.”  Another reason Ghost Moths are so heavy is that they don’t feed as adults, living only to mate and procreate, so they need the energy of stored body fat to fly.

Wood Moth

Subject: Home invasion in Austria
Location: Vienna, Austria
January 7, 2013 4:14 pm
Hi Bugman,
I came home from my winter vacation and found lots of those little black guys everywhere in my flat. They are about 3 to 4 millimeters long. Can you held me to identify their species?
Signature: Cheers, Hannes

Pantry Weevil is Caulophilus oryzae

Hi Hannes,
By your letter, it would seem to us that you have some species of beetle that infests stored foods and we would encourage you to carefully inspect the pantry for all stored grain products to see if you can determine the source of the infestation.  Don’t forget large bags of pet food including bird seed.  We do not recognize this particular species which appears to be a Weevil or Snout Beetle, but they are not the typical Grain or Rice Weevilswe encounter.  There are many small beetles that infest stored foods.  We will try to contact Eric Eaton to see if he can provide any additional information.

Pantry Weevils:  Caulophilus oryzae

On Jan 8, 2013, at 11:06 AM, Eric Eaton wrote:
Hi, Daniel:
Well, I don’t recognize them, either, so I’ll copy this to Charlie O’Brien, and see if he does.  Hopefully he is in good health….

Thanks much Eric,
Do you agree that they are weevils?

Yes, definitely weevils.  Great images should make ID by an authority fairly easy.

Here is the answer.  I thought I recognized it to subfamily, but that didn’t make any sense since most species bore in conifer bark.

Charlie O’Brien provides an identification
Hi Eric:
Happy to hear from you at any time.. The weevil is Caulophilus oryzae (Gyllenhal) formerly placed in Rhyncolus and it is a stored grain pest in the Cossoninae. It is almost Cosmopolitan..
… Sincerely,

Thanks a lot for identifying!
I sent you 5€ via paypal for your great service 🙂
kind regards,

Subject: mystery bathroom bug
Location: Midwest US
January 7, 2013 7:50 pm
Found this bug in my bathroom. Wondering what it is, and if I should worry that there are more or if it’s harmful? I live in the midwest. In an apartment.
Signature: C

Whitecrossed Seed Bug

Dear C,
This is a Whitecrossed Seed Bug,
Neacoryphus bicrucis, and according to American Insects:  “Over much of its range, this species is associated primarily with Ragwort, Senecio anonymus. Males attempt to hold and guard a territory, a cluster of flower heads. Females need access to these flower heads for feeding, mating, and ovipositing.”  Many True Bugs seek shelter indoors to hibernate, and we suspect that might be the case with this individual.  The Whitecrossed Seed Bug will not harm you or your apartment.