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

Subject: What bug is this?
Location: Southern Oregon
July 21, 2016 1:41 pm
Location: Medford, Oregon
Bug: Looks and moves like a caterpillar, but it can pull it’s head into it’s body
Markings: Looks like an eye near it’s tail
I raise Monarch butterflies and it has the same waste product as a monarch caterpillar, so it must be a leaf eater.
Very unusual insect, and quite large, I’ve never seen anything like it.
Signature: Tracy

Achemon Sphinx Caterpillar

Achemon Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Tracy,
The Achemon Sphinx Caterpillar,
Eumorpha achemon, in your image is the only member of its genus found in Oregon.  It is a member of the Hawkmoth or Sphinx Moth family Sphingidae, and the caterpillars from this family are called Hornworms.  The Achemon Sphinx Caterpillar is a little unusual among hornworms because it loses its horn as the caterpillar grows and molts, and all that remains is a caudal bump which you likened to an eye.  This may serve as protective mimicry, and its ability to retract its head, which you also observed, is a defense mechanism as well.  According to the Sphingidae of the Americas site, food plants include:  “Parthenocissus quinquefolia Virginia creeper, Vitis Grape, Ampelopsis Vines and Ivies” so we are guessing there is one of those plants near where the sighting occurred.

Subject: What is this bug???
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
July 21, 2016 11:12 am
I’ve been seeing this shell/skin of a big sll over the exterior of my house walls. Uncertain what it is.
Signature: Thanks so much! – AD

Cicada Exuviae

Cicada Exuviae

Dear AD,
These are the exuviae or shed exoskeletons of Cicadas.  The Cicada nymphs live underground for several years (up to 17 for the 17 Year Locust or Periodical Cicada) and then as they mature, they dig to the surface, molt for the last time, and fly off as adult Cicadas.  Cicadas are among the best known “music makers” of the insect world, and according to the BBC Earth, they may be the loudest insects on the planet.  Cicada Mania mentions other loud Cicadas.  Natalie, our coworker, just returned from Las Vegas and she was quite surprised to have heard Cicadas.  Perhaps you are having a significant population explosion of Cicadas this year.  According to Hub Pages in a 2012 posting and Las Vegas Sun in a 2014 posting, they are Apache Cicadas, a name we proposed as a common name for
Diceroprocta apache back in 2010.

Subject: What is this flying insect?
Location: Springtown PA
July 21, 2016 2:32 pm
This wasp type is burrowing holes in the dirt around a fig tree. I live in Springtown PA in Bucks County. This photo was taken at 5.25pm on July 21,2016. the temperature outside is 87 degrees.
Can you identify it please. Thank you Renee Sopko
Signature: Renee Sopko

Great Golden Digger Wasp makes nest

Great Golden Digger Wasp makes nest

Dear Renee,
The magnificent Great Golden Digger Wasp is a docile, solitary wasp that poses no threat to humans.  The female excavates a nest and then provisions it with Katydids for her young.  The Great Golden Digger Wasp is found across the continental U.S. and is a frequent visitor to our garden when the onions bloom, though we have yet to see one this year.

Subject: Cockroach or beetle?
Location: Columbus, OH
July 21, 2016 4:19 am
Found this guy stuck on its back in my kitchen. I live in an old home (1920) in an urban neighborhood. I helped him out and got him on his feet but would like to know what exactly I helped. Is it a cockroach or a beetle?
Signature: Apprehensive helper

Pleasing Fungus Beetle

Pleasing Fungus Beetle

Dear Apprehensive helper,
This is a Pleasing Fungus Beetle in the genus
Megalodacne which we identified on BugGuide where it states:  “Larvae feed on bracket fungi. Adults overwinter under bark, often in groups.”  Perhaps there is a large tree with mushrooms growing on it near your kitchen and this individual accidentally found its way indoors.

Subject: Is that a stinger?
Location: St. John’s Newfoundland
July 20, 2016 6:16 pm
Hi there,, saw this little creature tonight. I’ve lived in this area all my life and I don’t recall ever seeing one before. Any idea what this little (about 1.5 inches) guy might be? And is that a stinger on his back end? Thank you!
Signature: Curious on the Rock

Thank you for submitting your identification request.
Please understand that we have a very small staff that does this as a labor of love. We cannot answer all submissions (not by a long shot). But we’ll do the best we can!

Thank you for your quick response!  I’ve done a little research and it looks like my friend is a Mayfly!

Giant Mayfly

Giant Mayfly

We know you already identified your Mayfly, but it is such a nice image that we want to post it so our readers will learn to recognize Mayflies.  We believe your individual is a Giant Mayfly in the genus Hexagenia which we researched on BugGuide.  We also want to address your stinger question.  According to BugGuide, Mayflies have:  “usually three long thin tail projections (cerci); some species have only two cerci” but there is no further explanation.  The features of Mayflies are described on Mayfly.org including “It also features three long cerci or tails at the end if the body.”  Once again, the purpose or function of the cerci are not explained.  We will continue to research this matter.