From the daily archives: "Friday, July 29, 2016"

Subject: Exoskeleton
Location: Massachusetts
July 29, 2016 4:27 am
Found a molted exoskeleton this morning outside the thing is huge! It’s Brown and has two small claw s in the front. What is this freaky thing
Signature: Wyatt Demo

Cicada Exuvia

Cicada Exuvia

Dear Wyatt,
This exoskeleton is the Exuvia of a Cicada.  After spending several years underground feeding from the sap in roots, the Cicada Nymph digs to the surface, molts for the last time, and flies off as an adult Cicada, leaving behind the Exuvia.

Subject: Clearwing Moth + Hover Fly
Location: Central MT mountains
July 28, 2016 8:33 pm
Took this photo today in the Highwood Mountains east of Great Falls, MT at Showdown Ski Area.
It is similar to the Rhododendron borer, but there aren’t any rhododendrons in this area.
Also, 2nd picture is of a mimic, hover fly, but that is all I know. Can you identify?
Signature: Renee

Clearwing Moth: Carmenta giliae

Clearwing Moth: Carmenta giliae

Dear Renee,
We are relatively confident we have identified your Clearwing Moth in the family Sesiidae as
Carmenta giliae based on images posted to the Moth Photographers Group.  We double checked that with BugGuide.  According to BugGuide, the habitat is “Mid to high elevation montane meadows” and “Larvae bore in the roots of wild geranium (Geranium, Geraniaceae). Adults take nectar from a variety of flowers.”  We will attempt to identify your Hover Fly in a distinct posting.

Subject: Predation
Location: Andover, NJ
July 28, 2016 8:16 am
I was lurking around my butterfly garden this morning and happened to see this small wasp (Eumenine maybe?) subduing a large syrphid. Amazingly, the wasp took off with her prize with seemingly little effort!
Signature: Deborah Bifulco

Square Headed Wasp preys upon Hover Fly

Square Headed Wasp preys upon Hover Fly

Good Mornind Deborah,
What an amazing image.  This is a Square Headed Wasp in the subfamily Crabroninae, and we believe that based on this image from BugGuide, that it is in the genus
Ectemnius.  According to BugGuide:  “most nest in decayed wood (logs, stumps), sometimes in sound wood; provision the nests with Diptera.”   The prey appears to be a Drone Fly.

Thanks so much, Daniel!  I was a bit off on my wasp ID, wasn’t I?  Even with multiple field guides, I still find it rather challenging to get the subfamily correct.  But it sure is fun trying!  I just wish our summers lasted longer – once winter comes, I’m lucky to find a shield bug.
Debbi

Subject: Beautiful
Location: New England
July 28, 2016 11:17 pm
Hello I lived at the same home in a city right outside of Boston MA, tonight I was sitting outside my home and was absolutely speechless, all of a sudden a big beautiful bug that looked half grasshopper half butterfly slowly creep his way on top my wooden porch, I lived here for 30 years, I am 36 and I never have seen this beautiful creature here before I would really love to know the name of this insect can u please help me thank you
Signature: Kristina

Annual Cicada

Annual Cicada

Dear Kristina,
This is an newly emerged Annual Cicada.  Many folks mistake them for giant flies and they are sometimes called Dog Day Harvest Flies since they appear during the hottest days of summer.  Though you might not ever have seen them before, you have probably heard the loud sounds made by Cicadas in the tops of trees.  They sound somewhat like chain saws.

Subject: Scoliid wasp?
Location: Salir, Algarve, Portugal
July 28, 2016 9:56 am
I spotted this huge specimen in my garden in the Algarve, Portugal. It was quite docile and tried to hide underneath my shower decking. It was about 5-6 cm in size and as you can see from the picture is black with four almost square yellow panels on the lower half. My Portuguese friends are saying it’s a bee killer, is this true? I’ve done some image searches and it looks like a Scoliid wasp, although I’m not sure those are native to Southern Europe. Thanks for your help.
Signature: Vincent

Mammoth Wasp

Mammoth Wasp

Dear Vincent,
You are correct that this is a Scoliid Wasp or Mammoth Wasp, most likely
Megascolia maculata AKA Scolia maculata based on this FlickR image.  It is also pictured on iNaturalist.  Your friends are wrong.  Scoliid Wasps do not prey upon bees.  Adults take pollen and nectar from flowers like most wasps, and the female hunts for Scarab Beetle larvae.  Project Noah indicates there are three subspecies and provides this information:  “The larger female (may reach 5.5-6 cm) can be told apart by her yellow head and short antennae. The male has a black head and longer antennae. Both have two yellow bands on their abdomens, which can be divided to form 4 spots as it is shown on the photos. Nevertheless, they hold no harm to humans despite their size, in contrast to common wasps and hornets. Indeed, mammoth wasps do have stings, but not for self-defence or nest protection (in fact, they are solitary wasps). You may see several of these wasps flying around decaying tree stumps, they have a purpose there. They’re searching for larvae of Rhinoceros beetle (lat. Oryctes nasicornis), The female wasp once she has discovered the huge larvae, will sting one to paralyze it and then lay her egg on the outer skin. After hatching, the larvae of the mammoth wasp starts eating its host, till reaches the size it could create a cocoon, where it can safely sleep through all winter. 6 months later, the larvae turns into pupa and after 1 month more, from under the underground emerges newly formed mammoth wasp. The adult once feed on flower nectar.” 

Thank you very much for clearing this up! I’m also happy to hear they feed on the rhinoceros beetle, those were responsible for killing the magnificent palm tree we had in our garden a few years back. I’ll definitely not harm these wasps when I see one in the future. Not that I would harm any creature, great or small 🙂
Vincent.

Subject: Please ID
Location: Paramount CA
July 27, 2016 7:05 pm
Its late July when I felt something near my armpits the stretch mark area there was something ive never seen and I know more than your average person about wild life.
Signature: Brian

Glassy Winged Sharpshooter

Glassy Winged Sharpshooter

Dear Brian,
This is a Glassy Winged Sharpshooter,
Homalodisca vitripennis, and according to BugGuide:  “A major vector of Pierce’s disease on grape. Usually not a serious pest within its native range, southeastern US. This species was accidentally introduced into so. California in the early 1990s, probably with ornamental or agricultural stock. There, it has become a serious threat to viticulture.  The biggest problem is that it can spread the disease-causing bacterium Xylella fastidiosa.”

Daniel,
Thanks for your service.  Should I see a doctor?

Dear Brian,
While we cannot say for certain if you have cause to see a doctor, your interaction with this Glassy Winged Sharpshooter is no cause for concern.  The bacterium mentioned is a disease agent for grape vines, not people.