From the yearly archives: "2013"

Subject: Please help identify this caterpillar
Location: Western Cape, South Africa
January 6, 2013 4:38 am
Hi there!
The (poor) photo attached was taken yesterday 5th January 2013 in Table View, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa. Would you be so kind as to try to identify it for me? Thanks a lot!
Signature: Dylan

Death’s Head Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Hi Dylan,
There isn’t much detail in the posterior end of this caterpillar so we cannot make out if there is a caudal horn present, but the coloration and size are consistent with the appearance of a Death’s Head Hawkmoth Caterpillar,
Acherontia atropos, like the one we just posted a few days ago from Israel.  This is a different color morph from the typical Death’s Head Hawkmoth Caterpillars we generally receive which are more green and yellow.

Thanks very much for your response – there is a horn at it’s
posterior. Much obliged for the info.

Subject: green bug invades balcony
Location: Docklands, Victoria
January 6, 2013 1:21 am
on Friday when it was hot 40C these beetles invaded my balcony in high numbers and have not left since
Signature: Does this beetle harm my plants

Plague Soldier Beetle

We have posted a few letters over the past several weeks with similar concerns.  This is a Plague Soldier Beetle and according to csiro news blog when it was the Insect of the Week in November:  “An unfamiliar yellow and green beetle with a soft body may be a source of curiosity if it turns up in your garden. Will it eat the plants, or bite people? A dozen of the beetles together might start to cause concern. But ten thousand of them festooning a tree are bound to raise alarm. Yet the insect in question won’t harm either you or your plants.” 

Subject: A Long Unanswered Question From Indonesia
Location: Jakarta, Indonesia
January 5, 2013 6:27 pm
Dear Mr. Bugman,
When I was a child (1995-1999) I lived in Jakarta, Indonesia on an American compound. One birthday I was given a large butterfly net from my grandpa made from a pole and an old basket ball hoop. Thus began my collection.
Everyone in the compound knew I collected butterflies and moths so one day I got called out by a guard to collect one out a pile of leaves in a trashcan. I knew even then that it was not a butterfly nor a moth. The question then was: what is it? I still don’t know. I hope you’ll be able to help.
It appears to only have one antennae in the photos but I’m sure it originally had two. It also has a pin through it as that was how I mounted them. The only thing more I know about it is that it smelled terrible when it died. It’s about 4 inches wide including the wings and two inches tall. It looks like a house mouse with wings that are very well designed for leaf camouflage.
Signature: D.Mac

Hawkmoth may be Amplypterus panopus

Dear D.Mac,
We are happy to clear up this mystery after so many years, even if our solution is not specific.  Despite your reservations, this really is a moth known as a Hawkmoth in the family Sphingidae.
  Those eyespots on the upper wings are quite distinctive, and when we located this page on the photokito blog with images of Amplypterus panopus, we thought we might have identified your moth, but it seems there are some differences.  We then looked at additional photos of Amplypterus panopus on The insects from the Palaearctic region and Lepiforum, and we decided that it is most likely your moth, but that the damage your moth suffered in the trashcan is most likely obscuring some features.  We believe we have correctly identified your moth as Amplypterus panopus, but we are not certain.

Hawkmoth possibly Amplypterus panopus


Subject: Mystery Bug
Location: Tuscaloosa, AL
January 3, 2013 8:59 pm
I found this bug dead in my basement and would love to know what it is. I have never seen anything like it.
Signature: Scott Light

Male Dobsonfly

Dear Scott,
Despite his frightening appearance, this male Dobsonfly is perfectly harmless.  He will not harm you, your pets or your home.

Subject: What IsThis Bug?
Location: Melbourne, Australia
January 4, 2013 9:58 pm
Today my family and I came out into the back yard to find my dogs playing with a beetle which we have never come across before, unfortunately they killed it, but we were still curious as to what kind of beetle it is?
It would great if you could help us identify it. 🙂
The season is currently Summer, this beetle has appeared during a streak of hot weather, and we live in a busy suburban area.
Signature: Roberta

Cowboy Beetle

Hi Roberta,
Even through the plastic bag, we could tell this was a Scarab Beetle and though we did not recognize the species, we quickly identified it as a Cowboy Beetle,
Chondropyga dorsalis (Diaphonia dorsalis), on the Brisbane Insect website.  The website states:  “This beetle is commonly seen flying around very fast during day time in shrubs early summer in Brisbane. It is yellowish-brown in colour with a black stripe on the middle. Its body is relatively flatten. The beetle feeds on nectar.”  The Animal a Day website in the January 10, 2012 posting states:  “They can be found in southwestern Australia, inhabiting mostly forested areas and residential gardens. They are not considered to be a pest, even though they can spend their entire lives in one backyard.  As larvae, the Cowboy Beetles feast on rotting things, like dead wood and compost. Their eggs are actually laid in the rotting logs so that when the larvae hatch they have something to eat right away. Then then use that same material to construct their pupae.  As adults, Cowboy Beetles have a taste for food that is a bit more palatable to us non-rotten-debris eaters. They feed on the nectar of various flower species, and they use their newly acquired wings to move from different shrubs and bushes.  Their gold and black coloration actually helps them to avoid predators. When in flight they resemble the far more dangerous Wasp!”  Project Noah also has some wonderful images of the Cowboy Beetle.

Subject: Stripy Pants
Location: Los Angeles
January 5, 2013 3:42 am
Spotted this guy buggin’ on my orange tree. He was hopping and seemed to know I was checking him out! Spent a lot of time online, but didn’t come close to an identification. What’s that bug?
Signature: Ianavic

Immature Bush Katydid

Dear Ianavic,
This is an immature Bush Katydid in the genus
Scudderia.  Adult Bush Katydids are much larger  and they resemble green grasshoppers with very long antennae, but because of their coloration, they are well camouflaged against foliage and they are frequently overlooked.  This nymph appears to be very young.

Thank you so much for your generous and timely response, you’re the (bug)man!
I am more than happy to have this little fella nibble on our tree as per your wishes. I wonder just how many insects you’ve saved from a squishy demise over the years?
Keep up the good work!