From the daily archives: "Saturday, July 23, 2016"

Subject: What is this Moth or Butterfly
Location: United Kingdom
July 23, 2016 11:49 am
I took this today in Oxfordshire, UK and wanted to know what it was, thanks for any help in advance.
Signature: Sandra

Large Tortoiseshell

Small Tortoiseshell

Dear Julie,
This is a very exciting posting for us.  We have identified your butterfly as a Large Tortoiseshell,
Nymphalis polychloros.  According to UK Butterflies:  “In Victorian times the Large Tortoiseshell was considered widespread and common in woodland in southern England. However, this beautiful insect has since suffered a severe decline and there have been less than 150 records since 1951. This butterfly, whose numbers were always known to fluctuate, is generally considered to be extinct in the British Isles, with any sightings considered to be migrants from the continent or accidental or deliberate releases of captive-bred stock. Several causes of its decline have been suggested – including climate change, parasitism, and the effect of Dutch Elm disease on one of its primary foodplants. The hope, of course, is that this butterfly is able to once again colonise our islands. Although previously found in many parts of England, Wales and Scotland, the greatest concentrations were in the midlands, south and east of England. This species has not been recorded from Ireland. Recent sightings have come from the south coast, in particular from South Devon, South Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and West Sussex.”

Correction:  Small Tortoiseshell
We just received a comment indicating that this is actually a Small Tortoiseshell,
Aglais urticae, not a Large Tortoiseshell.  According to UK Butterflies:  “The Small Tortoiseshell is one of our most-familiar butterflies, appearing in gardens throughout the British Isles. Unfortunately, this butterfly has suffered a worrying decline, especially in the south, over the last few years. This butterfly has always fluctuated in numbers, but the cause of a recent decline is not yet known, although various theories have been proposed.”


Subject: Orange Dog Caterpillar?
Location: Southern Orange County, CA
July 23, 2016 10:56 am
I found two caterpillars on my navel orange tree on July 22, 2016. Are these Giant Swallowtail Butterfly caterpillars?
Signature: Julie Macy

Orange Dogs

Orange Dogs

Dear Julie,
You are absolutely correct.  These are Orange Dogs, the caterpillars of Giant Swallowtails.  Interestingly, though they are native to North America, Giant Swallowtails were first reported in Southern California in the 1990s.  Their range expanded as citrus cultivation moved across the country.  Even though citrus is not native to North America, once cultivation of oranges and other citrus fruits gained popularity in the southeast, the native Giant Swallowtails adapted to them as a host plant.

Thank you!  I found another yesterday.  I’ve never seen them before.  It will be fun to watch them as they change.

Subject: Tarantula Spider ?
Location: Orange, CA
July 23, 2016 8:52 am
This spider was found around 10:30pm. It was over 100 F here during the day so I am not sure if the heat confused it? It was found On a driveway near a garden. The legs seem more slender than other pictures of tarantulas I have seen. If you look closely you can notice darker black banding on its legs. Just wondering what it’s species is?
Signature: Courtney



Dear Courtney,
This is most definitely a Tarantula.

Subject: Curious to know the name of this insect.
July 23, 2016 3:22 am
Will be very thankful with your reply.
Signature: Any

Thorn Mimic Treehopper:

Thorn Mimic Treehopper:

Dear Any,
We are confident that we have identified your Thorn Mimic Treehopper in the family Membracidae as
 Leptocentrus taurus since we have found corroboration on India Nature Watch and Biodiversity India

Subject: Unknown Insect
Location: Lincolnshire, England
July 23, 2016 7:01 am
This landed on my arm. I have no idea what is neither do the people on Reddit. It’s roughly half an inch big, I’m in Lincolnshire, England. It’s fully intact and it has wings. Help me indenting this.
Signature: Elliot Cutts

Possibly Unknown True Bug

Olympic Bug

Dear Elliot,
We might even be more confused about this critter’s identity than you are.  At first glance, we thought perhaps we were seeing a headless mantid because of the raptorial front legs, until we realized those were the antennae and there were three complete sets of green legs.  The antennae seem to be the best clue in your image for identification purposes, and our best guess at this time is that this might be a member of the True Bug suborder Heteroptera because according to BugGuide, True Bugs can be identified by:  “Antennae, when not hidden, have 4-5 segments.”  Also, some True Bugs have modified antennae like this North American Giant Mesquite Bug.  We have not had any luck locating anything remotely similar looking on the British Bugs Heteroptera page, nor have we had any luck locating anything similar looking on UK Safari.  It is possible we missed something, but we can’t help but to wonder if perhaps this is a recently introduced species, or an exotic rogue that just happened to have found its way to your arm. We have sought some professional assistance, and perhaps our readership will write in with suggestions.

Eric Eaton identifies Olympic Bug
Hi, Daniel:
I think it *is* native.  It is the “Olympic Bug,” Heterotoma planicornis, a type of mirid plant bug.  Here’s more about it:
Cool critter, thanks for sharing!

According to British Bugs:  “The broad and flattened 2nd antennal segment, dark ground colour and contrasting greenish legs make this species unmistakeable.   Abundant throughout most of Britain on various plants and trees, in particular nettles. Both adults and the reddish nymphs feed on small insects as well as plant buds and unripe fruits.”

Subject: Identification help please!
Location: Raymond NH
July 23, 2016 6:58 am
Hi, I was in my yard last night and this interesting beetle landed beside me.
I was wondering if you might have an idea as to who my visitor was!
Signature: Courtney

Maple Sugar Borer

Sugar Maple Borer

Dear Courtney,
Along with its relative the Banded Alder Borer, we find the Sugar Maple Borer,
Glycobius speciosus, to be one of North America’s most beautiful native beetles.  BugGuide notes:  “Larvae mine under bark of living Sugar Maple, Acer saccharum” and that the species is “rare” which probably explains the scarcity of submissions of this gorgeous beetle to our site.  According to the USDA Forest Service Northeastern Area site:  “The sugar maple borer, Glycobius speciosus (Say), a long-horned wood boring beetle, is a common pest of sugar maple (the only known host) throughout the range of the tree. Although borer-caused mortality is rare, infestations lead to value loss through lumber defect caused by larval galleries, discoloration, decay, and twisted grain.”  According to the Cornell Sugar Maple Research& Extension Program:  “Damage by the sugar maple borer (Glycobius speciosus) varies among forest types and stands within a type. Infestation rates, the proportion of damages stems per acre or hectare, range from less than 5 to nearly 50 percent. Sugar maples in all stands are susceptible, but the incidence of damage is highest in stands with high proportion of sugar maple. Rarely does sugar maple borer kill a tree, but it directly affects the main part of the stem, sometimes reducing the available space for tapping. Borer attack is most prevalent on trees of low vigor.”  While this is just our opinion, in reading that information and the information contained in the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation pdf, we conclude that because the Sugar Maple Borer is rare, it is not a threat to the general population of Sugar Maple trees, but that the beetle does take advantage of already stressed trees, and in doing so, the general health of the Sugar Maple population is ensured.

Thank you so much for your reply! I love your site and use it all the time when I have a new bug friend in my life.
Again, thank you for your continued services!
– Courtney