From the monthly archives: "March 2017"

Subject: A spider I’ve never seen before
Location: Uruguay
March 25, 2017 6:03 am
I took this picture yesterday at my place, nobody here seems to know what kind of spider it is.
Signature: Luchi

Silver Argiope

Dear Luchi,
This harmless Orbweaver is a Silver Argiope,
Argiope argentata, a species that ranges from North America, through Central America and into South America.

I thought I’d never get an answer, this is so cool!
Though we were pretty scared we did not disturb her (is it her?) because she probably stays here taking care of other annoying bugs.
Thank you so much!

Yes, a female.  Male Orbweavers are usually considerably smaller than females.

Subject: Strange creature–land or sea?
Location: Anna Maria Island, Florida
March 25, 2017 5:47 am
We were walking the beach on Anna Maria Island in Florida when we came upon this fellow. It was right on the wet sand where the waves come up. Couldn’t tell where he came from or where he was going. Any ideas?
Signature: Nan

Bristle Worm

Dear Nan,
This Bristle Worm is actually an Annelid marine worm.  We found this matching image on Matthew Meier Photo and another on Florida Sportsman.    

Subject: death valley bee
Location: Darwin Falls, west of Death Valley National Park, CA
March 24, 2017 6:50 pm
Can you identify this bee (or fly)? I think the flower it is on is a Desert Gold (Geraea canescens) bush located in the western side of Death Valley National Park, near the Panamint Resort area.
Signature: Bonnie Borucki

Flower Fly

Dear Bonnie,
This is a Flower Fly or Hover Fly in the family Syrphidae, and many members of the family mimic bees and wasps for protection.  Harmless insects benefit from being confused with stinging insects.  We imagine you were in Death Valley during the peak bloom.  We are jealous.

Subject: Large Spinder
Location: Alvin, Texas
March 23, 2017 8:40 pm
We found this large spider on the front porch eating dinner. Then shortly found what we belive to be the father carrying the eggs on his back. Not sure what it is… if you could please help us identify them that would be cool.
Gulf Coast region
March – early spring
Warm outside
Signature: Robin Kralovetz

Female Wolf Spider with Spiderlings

Dear Robin,
The second Spider is a female Wolf Spider and she is carrying Spiderlings, not eggs.  Thanks so much for including the penny for scale as it provides a sense of the difference between the sizes of these two spiders.  The Spider with its prey is a much larger individual.  The carapace looks to us to resemble that of a Fishing Spider (see this BugGuide image) in the genus
Dolomedes rather than a Wolf Spider and Fishing Spiders are larger.  Wolf Spiders in the family Lycosidae and Fishing Spiders in the family Pisauridae are both hunting spiders that do not build webs to snare prey.  We may be wrong, bug we believe the larger spider is a Fishing Spider in the genus Dolomedes.  The prey appears to be a Scarab Beetle.

Fishing Spider eats Scarab Beetle

Subject: Mystery insect?
Location: South east, U.K.
March 24, 2017 10:29 am
Haven’t ever seen this type before would love to have it identified.
Signature: Alexa

Greater Bee Fly

Dear Alexa,
Please forgive us for making a bad joke, but aren’t you supposed to have all the answers?  This is a Bee Fly, most likely
Bombylius major which is pictured on NatureSpot where it states:  ” A strange looking insect with its furry body and patterned wings. The long proboscis is used for drinking nectar and the fly is totally harmless.”

Haha exactly! Thank you for getting back to me so quickly!

Subject: What magical creature is this?
Location: Middle of Austria
March 24, 2017 5:18 am
Hi Daniel! I found this beautiful moth today on the tiles of an underground passageway at the local train station (middle of Austria). The temperature was in the 40s, so the moth was pretty sluggish. I rescued it from being stepped on and spent a good 5-10 minutes communing with it before I put it on a tree. What really impressed me was the range of colors, and the fact that the “eyes” look like they were done with silver cloisonne. Can you tell me what this magical creature is?
Signature: N. Fritz

Female Emperor Moth

Dear N. Fritz,
A catchy subject line is always the best way to get our attention and to stand out from much of the chaff we receive, and your “magical creature” reference immediately caught our attention.  This is a female Emperor Moth in the genus
Saturnia.  It might be Saturnia pavonia, a species pictured on Moths of Europe where it states:  “Female Emperor moths possess an organ at the tip of their abdomen from which they disseminate pheromones to attract the day-flying males. A single freshly emerged female can attract as many as 70 males, which can detect the pheromones from distances of a kilometre or more away, using their strongly pectinated antennae as “radar” to home in on the female.  The females are heavily laden with eggs so are unable to fly very far, and after mating lay most of their eggs very near the spot where they emerge. After laying 100 or so eggs they have lightened their load sufficiently to enable them to fly, but unlike the males they fly by night. It takes them about 2-3 days to complete egg laying.  Neither sex has a proboscis, so the moths are unable to feed, and only live until their body fats are exhausted – i.e. about 4 or 5 days.”  The Saturniidae of the Western Palaearctic also has information on the Small Peacock Moth.  A similar looking larger species found in Europe is the Giant Peacock Moth, Saturnia pyri, which is pictured on Saturniidae of the Western Palaearctic where it states:  “Most adults emerge in the late morning, with females calling that same night, often from the base of trees up which they have climbed. Pairing takes place just before midnight and lasts for about 22 hours. After separation, the male flies off in search of another mate. If possible, the female climbs to the highest vantage point possible before launching herself clumsily towards the nearest shadow on the horizon which, often as not, is a tree. The reason for this strange behaviour is that most females carry too many eggs at first and are ‘bottom-heavy’. This stop-start process continues until about 30 eggs have been deposited, usually in chains of five to eight on the trees’ branches or trunk. The rest of the eggs are laid on the leaves and twigs of suitable hosts.”  We will try to get exact species confirmation from Bill Oehlke.  Meanwhile, since you rescued this magical creature from stomping feet in the station and put her on a tree where she may attract a mate, we are tagging this posting with the Bug Humanitarian Award.

Emperor Moth

Dear Daniel,
I’m honored to be a bug humanitarian! Somehow I intuitively knew to put this beauty on a tree. Thanks for posting the pix to What’s That Bug? and for enlightening me on the mating habits of emperor moths!
N. Fritz