From the monthly archives: "December 2014"

Subject: Life span of adult fig eater beetle
December 28, 2014 11:43 am
I rescued an adult fig eater beetle last July. He has damaged wings and is unable to fly. I left him out for a couple of days so nature could take its course but on the morning the gardeners were coming I found him hanging on to a blade of grass and couldn’t let him get chopped by the mower. Since then he has lived in a terrarium with grass, leaves, dirt, sticks and is eating grapes, figs and blueberries. He has occasional visits outside, where he crawls in the grass and climbs onto sticks and tries to fly But can’t manage to do so.
I am amazed he is still alive! How long will my house guest survive?
Signature: Kate

Injured Figeater Rescued

Injured Figeater Rescued

Dear Kate,
Since you did not provide us with an image, we are illustrating your query with an image of a Figeater from our archives.  Since you have rescued this lovely Scarab from a premature death, we are tagging your letter with the Bug Humanitarian Award.  Having averted the natural predators and food shortages that limit the life span of wild beetles, you have extended the life of the Figeater you rescued.  We can’t imagine it living more than a year, so we speculate that your individual will expire by summer.

Thanks so much for the award! I am honored. I am also including a photo of the actual beetle (who is generally referred to as Bugman, although I am not sure of his/her gender). He is taking one of his walks on a hibiscus.
Please once again accept my humble thanks for the award! Glad to know that others support Bug Rescue 🙂

Hello again Kate,
Thanks so much for sending in your image of a Figeater with damaged elytra, the hard wing covers.  We have formatted the image to illustrate the posting as the primary image and the image we found in our archives is now relegated to a secondary status.

Subject: ID Bug. please?
Location: Ventura County, CA
December 28, 2014 11:14 am
Hello. Happy New Year.
Can you ID this bug for us. They seem to be increasingly multiplying on our property in the
north end of the Santa Monica Mountains of Southern California. We grow some organic
fruits and want to make sure they are not a plant eating insect, or what we would have to do
in an organic way to handle them.
Thank you.
Signature: email

Mediterranean Red Bug

Mediterranean Red Bug

Dear Clay,
Though it is lacking an recognized common name on BugGuide, we have been calling the invasive exotic species
 Scantius aegyptius by the descriptive name Mediterranean Red Bug based on its site or origin and its common family name.  According to the Center for Invasive Species Research at UC Riverside:  “Recently, another brightly colored, mostly seed feeding bug belonging to the family Pyrrhocoridae or “Red Bugs” has become established in southern California and is drawing attention due to large aggregations of the bright red and black nymphs and adults feeding on annual broadleaf weeds in open space areas.  Scantius aegyptius, an old world pyrrhocorid bug, native to the eastern Mediterranean region, was documented for the first time in North America in Orange County during June of 2009.  Reports of this insect from other southern California locations (i.e., Riverside County) suggest that this insect has been established for a year or more prior to these Orange County collections.”  We suspect sightings of this Mediterranean Red Bug will be increasing in Southern California this winter, which makes your submission a very appropriate Bug of the Month for January 2015.

Subject: Rock beetle?
Location: Cameron Park, CA
December 26, 2014 10:55 pm
Hi there. Just found this in my house and am stumped. He looks like a beetle obviously but he looks like he’s designed to hide on a rock. Not on my carpet. :-/
Signature: Lisa Visconti

Tree Stink Bug

Tree Stink Bug

Dear Lisa,
This is a Tree Stink Bug or Rough Stink Bug in the genus
Brochymena, and we haven’t posted a recent image of this genus to our site in quite some time.  According to bugGuide:  “Usually bark-like (cryptic). Lateral teeth on juga. Head elongated, pronotum laterally with toothlike projections, and rear margin of abdomen has pleated pattern.” 

Subject: Black wasp with yellow head
Location: Naracoorte SA
December 26, 2014 7:41 pm
Hi Mr Bugman, if love your help please! I’ve just been bitten or stung (several times it would appear!) by this wasp.
As is to be expected, it’s incredibly painful! I’m currently lying on the couch with ice applied – what a wonderful excuse to watch the cricket!!
I’m in Naracoorte SA and Im not at all familiar with this type of wasp however my mum tells me she has seen them about.
Can you please identify the wasp so that I may call my new nemesis by name!
By the way, it took half a dozen attempts to kill, his body must be extremely hard!
Many thanks in advance
Belle Baker
Signature: ??

Mammoth Wasp, we believe

Mammoth Wasp, we believe

Dear Belle,
Though we were not able to locate any matching images on iSpot or elsewhere on the internet, we believe that this is a Mammoth Wasp in the family Scoliidae based on its resemblance to this European species of Mammoth Wasp.  It is curious that we were not able to find any South African documentation on such a distinctive looking, large wasp.

Ed. Note:  Correction South Australia, not South Africa
Thank you, that’s really interesting. Naracoorte is in South Australia, not South Africa…
Warmest Regards, Belle

Thanks for alerting us to the South Australia location.  That makes a big difference.  We believe we have correctly identified your Mammoth Wasp as a Blue Flower Wasp, Discolia verticalis, thanks to the BushCraftOz website where it states:  “Large solitary wasps. Very hairy with dark blue body and yellow patch behind head. Adults have shiny dark blue wings and stoutly built. Nectar feeders, especially eucalyptus blossum. Females have spiny legs for digging in wood or soil searching for beetle larvae and other insects to parasite. Size – up to 59 mm. There are 25 species of flower wasps that belong to Scoliidae.  Note: Flower wasps will sting if disturbed. Multiple stings can cause systemic reaction.
Warning – if symptons indicate systemic reaction seek urgent medical advice.”  There is a distribution map on the Atlas of Living Australia

Update:  January 1, 2015
Subject: Blue Flower Wasp
January 1, 2015 2:57 pm
Thanks to your site we have decided on  the Blue Flower Wasp as the identity of a swarm (probably 10+ )of wasps buzzing around a Blue Gum for the last 2 mornings. They disappear through the day. They have never been seen to land and make a very low pitched buzz as they fly close to you.  In 25 years we have never seen them before.  They are not aggressive, even when (with some difficulty – they are fast!) we netted one for a close look.  We are in Beetaloo Valley, Southern Flinders Ranges, South Australia.
Signature: John Birrell

Subject: Unknown Spider
Location: Malawi, Africa
December 25, 2014 10:52 pm
I live in Malawi, Africa. Recently I have moved to a more rural part of the country than what I have been previously acquainted with. There are many unknown bugs to me here. Although I do not have a particular fondness of these creatures, my curiosity has got the better of me. Attached is a picture of a large spider. I believe it is typically nocturnal. It moves very fast and has dangerous fangs. The largest one I know of was three inches. The people here do not have a name for it in English, in the native tongue it is called “Chichotsa Mfumu”. Which being translated means, “The Thing That Drives the Chief From His Chair”. Like I said earlier, I am curious and would like to know if it has an English name.
Thank you for your time,
Signature: Sarah – Malawi, Africa

Solifugid:  The Thing that Drives the Chief from His Chair

Solifugid: The Thing that Drives the Chief from His Chair

Dear Sarah,
We love your exotic letter with its colorful, local vocabulary.  This Arachnid is a Solifugid in order Solifugae, and though the members are commonly called Sun Spiders or Wind Scorpions in North America, they are neither spiders nor scorpions with which they are classed in Arachnida.  In the Middle East they are called Camel Spiders and there is much internet hysteria surrounding their alleged traits.  Solifugids, including your local Things that Drive the Chief from His Chair, are formidable predators, and though they lack venom, we would not welcome a bite from a large individual.  We are featuring your submission and dubbing it our favorite end of the year posting.

Thank you for your prompt reply and for your assistance in helping me identify this creature. I am so pleased with your services I may call on them again. Thank you very much.
Sarah Sjoblom

Subject: Unknown Very Small Bee Species
Location: Lamar county, South Mississippi
December 25, 2014 6:14 pm
Above is a link to a video I posted of an unidentified bee species I found in my back yard one day. I realize the video isn’t the best quality but it’s all I have. They were so small once I left the area I couldn’t find them again to obtain a specimen. I can tell you my finger seen in the video is 2 cm wide, exactly, if you can use that for size reference.
If you pause it near the end you can get a decent profile of it and it’s characteristics. They lived in a small hole which was guarded by the abdomen of a colony member. They appeared to be gatherers but were so fast I couldn’t see what they were bringing back. My first impression was that I was looking at a queen fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) ready to swarm as the bees had amber, shiny bodies just like fire ants. But their flight characteristics said bee to me. They weren’t aggressive when I probed the opening with a small piece of grass, they just removed it and continued to keep the entrance sealed with an abdomen.
I have passed this video around to a few local entomologists and they keep telling me bees don’t get that small and they can’t tell without a specimen. All the research I have done has produced similar looking insects like Sphecodes but I can’t find any that fit into this size range.

Thank you.
Signature: Steven Cimbora

Bee or Wasp???

Probably Sweat Bee

Dear Steven,
Your video shows what appears to be a Mining Bee in the family Andrenidae.  According to BugGuide:  “Many small, ground-nesting bees observed in areas of sandy soil are members of the family, Andrenidae. Characteristics of this family (of which there are approximately 3000 species) are: Small size, 20 mm, (or smaller) brown to black in color, and nesting in a burrow in areas of sparse vegetation, old meadows, dry road beds, sandy paths. Although the nests are built in close proximity of one another, the bees are solitary (each female capable of constructing a nest and reproducing). Many species are active in March and April when they collect pollen and nectar from early spring blooming flowers. The female bee digs a hole 2-3 inches deep excavating the soil and leaving a pile on the surface. She then digs a side tunnel that ends in a chamber (there are about 8 chambers per burrow). Each chamber is then filled with a small ball of pollen and nectar. An egg is laid on the top of each pollen ball and the female seals each brood chamber. The emerging larval bees feed on the pollen/nectar ball until they pupate.”  We are shocked that your local entomologists have no knowledge of these native, small, ground-nesting Mining Bees.

Head of a Mining Bee preparing to exit

Head of a Mining Bee preparing to exit (from our archives)

Thank you for the quick response.
I just wanted to point a few things out that run contrary to the Mining Bee’s description based on my personal observations of them.
I observed fellow nest members guarding the entrance with their abdomen, as seen in the video.
The nest entrance is perfectly clean of any mounding or tunnel waste and I observed more than one bee leave and return to the entrance. A few times there were several hovering near it waiting to enter.
The size range of 20 mm or smaller is starting out at the width of my finger, seen in the video which is 20mm or 2 cm wide. I would estimate their size at about 5 mm at best and that was the bigger ones.
As you watch the very beginning of the video, right before I put my finger in frame, you will see one depart then another come to the entrance and block it with it’s abdomen. This is not a solitary bee as the mining bees are described as being. They also appeared to lack the pollen brush associated with Mining bees.
Thank you for the effort and if I can ever find them again I will definitely get a specimen.
Steven Cimbora

Thanks for getting back to us Steven.  We have tagged the posting as Unidentified and we have included a screen shot from the end of your video.  Perhaps one of our readers has an idea what Hymenopteran this might be.

Update:  January 4, 2015
Mr. Marlos,
I am providing a new link to some more footage of the unknown bees I found in my back yard. There is much more footage of their activity and it is stabilized. It also shows the presence of more than one bee occupying the nest at a time (Entrance guard) and better footage of their flight characteristics.
I went ahead and scaled some screen shots to try and get a better measurement of them and I came up with approximately 3.2 mm in length. I did this by scaling a screen shot of my finger until it measured the same as actual, using Gimp2 software to measure with. I then took a screenshot of the bee in flight and scaled it to the same dimensions and then measured it. The opening measured approximately 1.1 mm.
You might also find better images to capture and post in this footage as well.
Thank you for your time.
Steven Cimbora