From the daily archives: "Thursday, April 21, 2016"

Subject: Caterpillar Vic australia
Location: Victoria Australia- bayside
April 20, 2016 5:58 pm
Hi, I found this on the ground in Victoria Australia. It’s as long as my palm. What is it?
Signature: Thanks

Convolvulus Hawkmoth Hornworm

Convolvulus Hawkmoth Hornworm

Your Hornworm is the caterpillar of a Convolvulus Hawkmoth, Agrius convolvuli , and you can verify our identification on ButterflyHouse where it states:  “The caterpillar may walk up to 300 metres from the food plant to pupate. It pupates in a cell in the soil. The pupa has a long looped compartment for the developing haustellum.”

Subject: Unkown Creepy Callapiter
Location: Florida near pensacola, cantonment. But in a country part called Molino
April 20, 2016 5:32 pm
I was sitting with my mother in our barn in cantonment. when I noticed (What i thought was fuz,) until it started moving. I have never seen anything like it, (Nor had my mom,) and i wanted to know more. It had to large thick, black antenaes. And one identical anteanae like tail. Conecting the anteanaes/tail was a black line down the middle, with little yellow hair covering the sides. It had an orange like headband, and two small red dots near its hind end. What was peculiar was the 4 white dots on its back, with a spiky black line coming out of each. Please help. We have many animals around our farm and would really like to know this type of bug, and if it is dangerous. Thankyou.
Signature: Please respond, Aden

Whitemarked Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Whitemarked Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Dear Aden,
This is a Whitemarked Tussock Moth Caterpillar,
Orgyia leucostigma, and according to BugGuide:  “CAUTION: Avoid handling the caterpillar, as its hair is known to cause allergic reactions, especially in areas of the body with sensitive skin (e.g. back, stomach, inner arms). Seek medical treatment if a severe reaction occurs.”

Subject: Tarantula Hawk Long Beach
Location: Long Beach CA
April 20, 2016 2:49 pm
Hi, I first saw one of these beauties scouring my yard in the early mornings and late afternoons 3 years ago. I could not find anyone who’d seen one here and my tentative identification of Tarantula Hawk seemed insane. But they keep showing up the 2nd-3rd week of April every year and my neighbors are seeing them now too.
I notice you said you’d never seen one in Mt. Washington and assumed this was because their prey had diminished. That’s my REAL question. Since they are successfully reproducing, I wonder what kind of spiders are also making a comeback? Is my yard home to tarantulas? Trapdoors?
I’m about 10 blocks from the ocean and quite a ways between both rivers. I think tarantula were native here before urbanization and, well, every year now is the hottest year on record…
Incidentally, I think their behavior (the females) is noteworthy for identification purposes. They are OBSESSED. They fly very low over grass, or run around cracks in concrete, over and over and over for a couple of hours every day and return to the same place the same time the next day. They take off in a hurry at my approach but immediately return to their task. I suspect they divvy up territory and I’m seeing the same wasp return to the same place? (There’s a different spot in my front yard that attracts another). I THINK the occasional stray that cruises in, flies higher, lights on a branch or just plain doesn’t appear to have OCD disorder is the male hoping to get lucky? I’ve spent lots of time observing them, but I’ve yet to figure out where they go when they’re not hunting (do they live in the ground too?) or see one catch a spider.
Signature: Curious

Spider Wasp

Spider Wasp

Dear Curious,
To the best of our knowledge, only two genera from the Spider Wasp Tribe Pepsini are officially Tarantula Hawks.  We believe your have a member of the tribe, possibly
Calopompilus pyrrhomelas based on this BugGuide image and others posted to the site.  The brown tips on the wings is similar to your individual.  According to BugGuide, the prey for the species is this Trapdoor Spider.  Despite the similarity in coloration, we believe your individual is a Spider Wasp, but not the more specific Tarantula Hawk.  Arachnoboards has an interesting discussion regarding Tarantula Hawks in Long Beach.

Thank you so much. They may “belong” here, but no one I know has ever seen one and suddenly they’re enjoying a population boom. Don’t know if its a comeback, or they arrived on native plants, or they abandoned a habitat that’s gotten too hot. But we apparently have the spiders they need!
I’m normally paranoid of wasps due to allergies, but these aren’t even slightly aggressive. I’ve gotten to watch them so closely because they fly in easy range of my fascinated cats, so I supervise the cats’ outdoor time in order to stop them from pouncing on the wasps.
I’m attaching a better photo, and if I ever catch sight of the the trapdoors, will try to pass along a photo of them.
Your service is fantastic!

Spider Wasp

Spider Wasp

Subject: More kissing bugs?
Location: Pennsylvania
April 20, 2016 11:11 am
Hi,
I sent a photo earlier today of a bug to see if it was a kissing bug. Here are a couple more photos. There are dozens of these guys all around my house. If you could help me identify them I would appreciate it. I’m terrified that they are deadly kissing bugs!
There are a bunch of these on the screens outside my house. I live in the suburbs of Philadelphia. I have occasionally found them inside. Some are bigger without the red markings, but up too high so I can’t get a good photo. If it is a kissing bug, how worried should I be. And how should I get rid of them? Thanks!
Thanks for your help!
Signature: Michelle

Mating Boxelder Bugs

Mating Boxelder Bugs

Dear Michelle,
You have nothing to fear from these mating Eastern Boxelder Bugs.  They are harmless, though they can pose a considerable nuisance when they form large aggregations on exterior walls of homes.  They tend to favor walls with light colors and sunny exposures, exactly like those in your image.  You may or may not be amused that Eastern Boxelder Bugs are also known as Democrat Bugs because of the large aggregations they form.  Seems they are making a timely appearance with your Pennsylvania primary election occurring next week.

Thank you so much!! I really appreciate you getting back to me!

Subject: Big-ass spider
Location: Manzanillo, Costa Rica
April 21, 2016 1:46 am
So I was fortunate enough to have a visit from this gal (I’m assuming) on my mosquito net over my bed. No mosquitos getting to me tonight!!
Was taken back by the sheer size…. but how impressive!! This is in Manzanillo, Costa Rica.
BTW….. not that I’m taking chances, what kind of spider is she and is she seriously poisonous? Thanks!!!
Signature: Arachnid lover

Possibly Fishing Spider

Possibly Fishing Spider

Dear Arachnid Lover,
We often try to guess an identity prior to viewing the images, and we were certain you were inquiring about a Huntsman Spider, but the front two pairs of legs on your spider are two short for a Huntsman.  We believe your spider may be a Nursery Web Spider in the family Pisauridae, and it reminds us of a North American Fishing Spider in the genus
Dolomedes.  Fishing Spiders are quite large, but perfectly harmless.  Here is a BugGuide image for comparison.  We have not had much luck finding Costa Rican examples online.  The young lady in the image looks quite enthralled with the spider.

Possibly Fishing Spider

Possibly Fishing Spider

Thank-you very much for the information.  It too, reminds me of the spiders that come up from under the dock in the summertime!   The critters down here are a bug lovers paradise!

Some people call Fishing Spiders, by the name Dock Spider.