From the monthly archives: "May 2014"

Subject: strange bug
Location: Frederick, MD
May 27, 2014 12:25 am
This big looks like a cross between a stink bug and a potato bug. It’s about the size of a stink bug, and was found in Frederick, MD.
Signature: MARIANNE

Antlion Larva

Antlion Larva

Dear Marianne,
This is the larva of an Antlion, or perhaps of some other Neuropteran, like an Owlfly.  Most Antlion Larvae are sedentary hunters that dig a pit in sandy soil, waiting at the bottom for any prey, ant or otherwise, that stumbles into the pit, falling into the ready mandibles.  Those Antlion Larvae are frequently called Doodlebugs.  Some species of Antlions might have more mobile larvae that hunt.  Your inquiry did not clarify where the larva was found.  Here is a similar looking Antlion Larva that is pictured on BugGuide.

Subject: large caterpillar
Location: Troy, Texas
May 26, 2014 8:30 pm
This beautiful caterpillar (I assume) was on our tent late morning after camping overnight in a grassy area near a lot of pecan trees.
Signature: Thank you, Lisa

Underwing Caterpillar

Underwing Caterpillar

Hi Lisa,
This looks like an Underwing Caterpillar from a moth in the genus
Catocala.  You can view some examples on BugGuide.

Subject: Mystery Wasp?
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
May 26, 2014 12:55 pm
Hi, I have been a big fan of your site for many years! There is some type of ground-burrowing wasp with blue wings that makes a nest in my yard every year. I usually see activity (little piles of dirt) around May, and by June or so it always seems like the nest is abandoned, and I never see any more signs of life until the following year. The nest spot in the ground is a patch about 2′ x 2′ with multiple holes.
This year, the nest seems larger, and there has been lots of activity. The creatures are about 1″ long, have blue wings, black bodies, and fat legs – especially the “hind” legs.
So far, they do not seem to be aggressive, but I would love to find out more about them.
Thanks!
Signature: Harry

Dusky Winged Andrena

Dusky Winged Andrena

Dear Harry,
We believe these are Mining Bees in the genus
Andrena, and the closest match we were able to locate on BugGuide, from nearby Virginia, is the Dusky Winged Andrena, Andrena obscuripennis.

Dusky Winged Andrena

Dusky Winged Andrena

Dusky Winged Andrena

Dusky Winged Andrena

Subject: A flying, stick-like insect
Location: Arcata, CA; coastal, near redwoods
May 21, 2014 2:59 pm
Hello, this is my first time asking a question on this site and I do apologize if I am doing this wrong. I saw the strangest flying insect in Arcata, which is off the coast of Northern California, last week during my lunch break. It was a weird experience as I have never seen anything like it. I was at the community center park, specifically sitting on a grass field next to a small wooded area (deciduous), and this weird insect was flying around me for a few minutes. I was unfortunately not able to snap a picture of it before it left, so I will do my best at describing it in detail: It was about 2-2.5 inches in length and very thin. It was segmented and it’s torso looked very similar to that of a stick bug’s. The weird thing is that it’s body was bent like a U, so it’s head and bottom were higher than the middle part of it’s body. It seemed to have many (perhaps 20 or more) long, very thin legs that almost appeared as hairs falling from it’s t orso as it gracefully floated around. It’s head was a bit thicker than it’s body, and it had very thick, long antennae. I could not see it’s wings, as it was moving them rapidly, and it hovered around like a helicopter. It even got a few inches from my face twice, as if observing me. It was so alien and so freaky, I just had to let you guys know, and hopefully you can give me an idea as to what it was.
Thank you so much.
Signature: Nicole

Drone???

Drone???

Dear Nicole,
Please forgive the delay, but we really wanted to carefully craft our response to you.  This does not sound like any living creature that we know about, but it does sound like a hybrid of two adept predators we have represented in our archives: the Mosquito and the House Centipede.
  Mosquitoes are capable of hovering in place when deciding upon which part of the warm, human body part to puncture.  House Centipedes are fast runners that chase after prey.  We definitely would not want to have an encounter a House Centipede on our own scale.  We heard an interesting news story on NPR last week about the newest small Drones that look like insects, and that are so convincing that real insects have tried to mate with them.  Now, we here at WTB? could never imagine ourselves as the masterminds behind surveillance espionage, however, it we were to design a perfect Drone, we might consider morphing two unrelated species that have specific areas of near perfect mobility, in this case, air and ground.  A hybrid drone could fly to a location and then hit the ground running would be worth the research that went into it.  

Thanks for the reply. This is very interesting.
I appreciate the time you have put into investigating my experience with this unknown “bug”.

Subject: Tarantula Hawk Hunting, Looking for Host?
Location:  Red Car Property, Silverlake, Los Angeles, California
May 25, 2014 12:39 pm
Hi Daniel,
I was walking the Red Car Property in Silver Lake this morning and got some photos of a Tarantula Hawk walking a grid pattern 12″ across, 6″ up, the 12″across like she was wither hunting for prey or a host for eggs.  Photos and longer version of story here:
http://redcarproperty.blogspot.com/2014/05/red-car-property-tarantula-hawk-another.html
Signature: Diane E

Tarantula Hawk

Tarantula Hawk

Hi Diane,
Thanks for informing us about this Tarantula Hawk sighting in nearby Silver Lake.  We have taken the liberty of capturing an image from your posting and linking back to your site, but we were unable to capture the first image for some unknown reason.  Several years ago, our editorial staff observed a large Tarantula Hawk right below the Red Car Property in the Los Angeles River, and just last year, we observed a large Tarantula Hawk at Barnsdell Park.  The behavior you observed might be related to locating prey, or it might have to do with locating an ideal site for a nursery burrow.  As an aside, the new construction on the site of the old Monte Sano Hospital has saddened us.  That plateau was a lovely lookout point, excellent photo location, and perfect lupine habitat.  There is also the loss of endangered native, California Black Walnuts as a result of the construction.

Hi Daniel
Thanks.  We’re hoping the Trust for Public Land acquires the Red Car Property this year to preserve what little Black Walnut Woodland we have left in Silver Lake.  TPL just announced an option on the property.  I’m tired of losing open space to big stucco boxes!
Diane Edwardson

 

Subject: orange and black bug
Location: Sierra foothills at 2000′ in Weimar, CA.
May 25, 2014 1:34 pm
I found this on a faded arilbred iris. Sorry the picture is blurry. I am in the Sierra foothills at 2000′ in Weimar, CA. I’d guess it’s about 2/3 inch long.
Signature: Carolyn

Dimorphic Flower Longhorn

Dimorphic Flower Longhorn

Dear Carolyn,
Your image is indeed quite blurry, which makes us sad because we believe we have correctly identified your female Dimorphic Flower Longhorn,
Anastrangalia laetifica, on BugGuide, and it represents a new species on our site.  Even though your image is blurry, the distinctive markings leave little doubt as to its identity.  The term Dimorphic in the name refers to the obvious visual differences between the sexes, which makes them appear to be different species.  Females are colored similarly to your individual, while males are black or brown.

Thank you very much! I tried finding it myself using the BugGuide, but could not even get there from Insecta.  Is there a way to browse the categories that would more easily lead me to the right page.  I completely agree that this BugGuide pictures of this species clearly identify my bug.  I could not find information anywhere on what they eat – apparently plants, but nectar?  Petals, leaves?  Do you know?  (My search, however, led me to much fascinating information, for example, about butterfly color production by forming gyroids.)
Thank you again, and thanks in advance if you find any info about their feeding.
Carolyn Spier

Hi Carolyn,
We have no advice on how to best browse BugGuide as one needs a basic understanding of insect orders before being able to search successfully.  The same is true of our site, however, our search engine works quite well if you type in descriptive words, however, as we stated earlier, since this is a new species for our site, you would never have found your species identification on our site.  We think of Flower Longhorns as being nectar feeders, however, BugGuide has this to say on the family Cerambycidae information page:  “Many adults (esp. the brightly colored ones) feed on flowers.  Adult feeding requirements are variable, with some species taking nourishment from sap, leaves, blossoms, fruit, bark, and fungi, often not associated with larval hosts; others take little or no nourishment beyond water.”

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer me, twice!  I prefer to believe that this brightly colored female is the nectar sucking type – until proven otherwise.  I wonder what the larvae eat, though.
Carolyn

Hi again Carolyn,
The original BugGuide link we provided for you was to a photo and it does include food information.  According to BugGuide Larvae are borers in “Pinaceae” which is the family that includes pine as well as cedar, fir, hemlock, larch and spruce, though the Dimorphic Flower Longhorn might only use one genus as the host.  This information is provided under life cycle:  “According to Dennis Haines (pers. communication, HW) floral hosts of adults include Calochortus (Liliaceae); Ceanothus (Rhamnaceae); Achillea, Heracleum (Apiadaceae); Eriodictyon (Hydrophyllaceae).” 

Hi Daniel,
I went again to that original link you sent.  Now I see the tabs for the other info.  Thanks!  It fits that I live on serpentine in pine/oak woodland.
Carolyn