From the monthly archives: "April 2016"

Subject: Butterfly
Location: Jefferson County, Colorado
April 26, 2016 7:04 am
Hi,
On 26/April/2016 we were within the boundaries of Chatfield State Park, Jefferson County, Colorado and observed a brown butterfly with white edged wings several times in at least three locations in the Park. It was seldom still and we managed only one somewhat decent image of the butterfly (attached). We observed it from about 1:00 to 3:00 pm in grassy areas as well as near a stream. Unfortunately we did not get a clear image of it with its wings opened. Any help with identification would be appreciated. Location: Latitude: 39°32’45.92″N / Longitude: 105° 5’5.21″W
Signature: Ronal Kerbo

Mourning Cloak

Mourning Cloak

Dear Ronal,
Judging by the bedraggled appearance of its wings, this Mourning Cloak has just awakened from a long winter’s nap.  Mourning Cloaks, along with several other species of butterflies in the Brush-Footed Butterfly family Nymphalidae, hibernate, often in hollow trees and other sheltered nooks and crannies. They can sometimes be seen flying about on sunny days while there is still snow on the ground.  The female will lay her eggs on the budding leaves of willow, elm and a few other species of trees, and the caterpillars will grow quickly while feeding on the new leaves.  There is still a hint of beauty visible on your individuals wings.  The ventral surface of the wings, which is visible when the butterfly rests with its wings folded over its back, are mottled in color to help the Mourning Cloak blend in with bark and leaves, but the dorsal surface on a newly eclosed individual are a velvety warm black in color.  There is a scalloped cream colored edge on all the wings and a row of brilliant blue spots traverses the  length of the wings as well.

Dear Daniel,
Thank you for the prompt reply with the identification of our butterfly. We were quite surprised to see your message so soon after sending along our inquiry. As it turns out I now know we had photographed a “Mourning Cloak” within the Butterfly Pavilion set up on the grounds of the Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield here in the Denver Colorado metro area. I should have done more research on my on and not bothered you and others at the whatsthatbug web site. We very much appreciate your response and it is good to know we have now photographed a Mourning Cloak in the wild.
Thanks again,
ronal

It was no trouble at all Ronal.  We love posting images of Mourning Cloaks.

Subject: What is this larve?
Location: Near Lyle, WA
April 25, 2016 6:38 pm
We found this along a trail in eastern Washington. It was as burrowing a hole in the dry dirt. I tickled its tail with a piece of grass and it turned around, half in and half out of the hole, as seen in the pic. About 3-4 inches long, as big around as my pinky finger.
Signature: Jerry

Pacific Green Sphinx Caterpillar

Pacific Green Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Jerry,
We are very excited to post your image of a Pacific Green Sphinx Caterpillar,
Arctonotus lucidus, which we identified on The Sphingidae of the Americas site.  Caterpillars of Sphinx Moths are usually easy to identify because they have a caudal horn, but some species lose the horn and only a caudal bump remains, and it is thought to afford some protection as it resembles an eye.  Though we have several images of adult Pacific Green Sphinx Moths on our site including this individual from Lyle, your caterpillar image is a first for us.  David Wikle is quoted on The Sphingidae of the Americas:  “and in the fifth [instar], the ‘eye of God’ is pasted on its arse and the horn is replaced by a raised area like Xylophanes or Eumorpha larvae.”  The larva is also pictured on BugGuide.  Since it was digging in the dirt, and it was quite large according to your description, we can deduce it was going underground in preparation for pupation.  We are going to copy Bill Oehlke as your image is so stunning, he may request permission to post it to his own site. 

Subject: Hey
Location: Nc
April 25, 2016 8:28 pm
I was outside and I found this wired bug and was wondering if you could tell me what it is that would be cool thanks Mr bug man 🙂
Signature: Chris

Camel Cricket

Camel Cricket

Hey Chris,
This is a Camel Cricket.  They are fond of dark, damp recesses, and they are frequently found in basements.  According to BugGuide:  “Most are omnivorous and will feed on most anything organic. Many (if not most) will catch and eat other smaller animals when they can. In houses may chew on paper products, occasionally fabric.”

Subject: These aren’t salamanders!
Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
April 25, 2016 9:32 am
Hi BugMan,
I was recently on a salamander hunt in an urban forest environment when I came across the following nest under a rock. I leaned in close and was surprised to see that the round white ones had legs (and antennae) and were not just larvae as I had thought. I’ve included two photos: the first being the overall view of the hole beneath the rock and the second a closer view of the larvae (?).
We’ve had some issues in the recent past in the Halifax region in Nova Scotia with fire ants creeping up and I thought I may have come across one of their nests while in the woods (“woods” used very loosely as I can see houses if I squint and hear the highway in close proximity). After spending awhile searching through the life cycles of various ant types, I then wondered if perhaps I had happened across ants feeding upon the larvae of another insect. I’m hoping you’re able to clear up my my confusion, but in the meantime I’ll keep searching – maybe the actual paper insect ID book might be helpful.
If it makes any difference, the area where I found the nest is a few metres away from a small area of wetland and we have had a relatively mild winter so there was not a lot of snow melt.
Signature: NatureGirl

Citronella Ants tend Root Aphids

Citronella Ants tend Root Aphids

Dear NatureGirl,
You have happened across Ants, but instead of “feeding upon the larvae of another insect” they are harvesting honeydew from Aphids.  We did not recognize either your yellow ants or the white Aphids, so we searched on the web and quickly found the Cornell blog New York State IPM Program and a posting of Citronella Ants caring for or tending Root Aphids.  The site states:  “The life and habits of citronella ants aren’t well-studied, but they do have one fascinating trait. They tend herds of underground aphids, known as root aphids as if they were cattle, and harvesting sweet honeydew excreted by the sap-loving aphids. Root aphids feed on the roots of shrubs and plants.”  Additional images and information can be found on Wild About Ants, Scientific American and BugGuide.  

Citronella Ants tend Root Aphids

Citronella Ants tend Root Aphids