From the monthly archives: "May 2017"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Driveway Swarm of these Flying Insects
Location: Southern California
May 4, 2017 8:58 pm
This morning there were hundreds of these flying insects lying dead in the driveway, grouped in a fairly small area about 6 feet across. I scooped up a few onto white paper, added a ruler and took a picture. I’m curious – are these flying ants or are they (heaven forbid) termites?
Signature: Gene

Red Imported Fire Ant Alates

Dear Gene,
These are the reproductive alates of the only species of Ant ubiquitous across Southern California, the Argentine Ant.  When it is time to swarm, winged males and females take flight to mate and start new colonies.  In our opinion, the Argentine Ant is the most destructive invasive exotic species in Southern California, and it does much more damage than the dreaded Med Fly.

Correction:  May 14, 2017
We just received a correction from Ben that these are more likely Red Imported Fire Ant alates, and this BugGuide image does support that correction.  According to BugGuide:  “native to South America, adventive in our area and spreading throughout so. US north to MD-IL-MO-TX-CA); introduced to many Old World countries” and “The most aggressive and widespread of the fire ants found in North America. It was introduced into the US from Brazil between 1933 and 1945.  If their nest is stepped on, the workers rush out and sting the feet and legs of the intruder. Each sting results in a small, painful wound that develops into a pustule in 24-48 hours. As the pustules heal they become itchy and can become infected.”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Always wondered
Location: Langdon NH
May 4, 2017 7:23 pm
I have always wanted to know what these bugs are known as. I get them all the time.
Signature: Donna Caron

Giant Eastern Crane Fly

Dear Donna,
Based on BugGuide images, we at first mistook this for a Giant Eastern Crane Fly,
Pedicia albivitta, because BugGuide does indicate:  “the most commonly encountered species of Pedicia“, but upon more closely scrutinizing the dark pattern on the wings, we realized there was no dark mark intersecting the bottom edge in the wing, which causes us to speculate, based on BugGuide images, that this is actually Pedicia contermina, a similar looking member of the same genus.  Crane Flies are frequently attracted to lights, which might explain why you get them all the time. They are erroneously called Mosquito Hawks or just Skeeter Hawks because they are believed to eat Mosquitoes, when in fact most Crane Flies probably do not feed as adults.  There are also folks who mistakenly believe Crane Flies sting, but they neither sting nor bite, so they are harmless to humans.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: clear wing moth
Location: Swakopmund Namibia
May 4, 2017 7:11 am
Please tell me this is a new species

Cucumber Moth

Dear swensown,
This is NOT a Clearwing Moth.  Because of its striking resemblance to the North American Melonworm Moth, we knew this had to be a relative in the same genus, which allowed us to quickly identify the Cucumber Moth,
Diaphania indica, thanks to the African Moths site.  The species is also well represented on iSpot.

Thanks very much. You’re info is awesome. Keep it up. Well done
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Cecropia Caterpillar
Location: Middlebury, VT
May 3, 2017 2:19 pm
My grandson found this on our maple tree a few years ago and I thought you’d like to have the picture.
Signature: BrendaB

Cecropia Moth Caterpillar

Dear BrendaB,
We thought this was very early for a Cecropia Caterpillar sighting, especially in Vermont, and then we noticed your digital file is dated 2012.  We would expect to see Cecropia Moth Caterpillar late in the summer.

Oh yes!  I did say it was a few years ago.  I just think the picture is great, so I wanted to share.

And we agree that it is an awesome image, which is why we posted it.
We did not mean to seem dismissive.  We just wanted to inform our readers when to expect to see Cecropia Moth Caterpillars.

Thank you!  I am happy to know when to look for them as I haven’t seen one since 2012.  They seriously look like a Fisher Price toy.  Put a string on the front of it and it could be a pull toy.  J


What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: grayish brown caterpillar with distinctive “eye” pattern on rear end
Location: Mt Diablo State Park, Eagle Peak Trail
May 3, 2017 10:07 pm
I was hiking in the northern side of Mt Diablo State Park (San Francisco Bay Area) in late April when I came across this fellow on the Eagle Peak trail near some oak and pine trees (~1000 feet elevation). Its head end was light red, its body mostly grayish brown with subtle horizontal bands and two symmetrical vertical yellow stripes, and its rear end had a distinct yellow and black “eye” marking. About as big as my pointer finger (see photo with shoe for scale). I’ve never seen anything like it; it’s definitely not a swallowtail, and I’m pretty sure it’s not a moth. Any ideas?
Signature: Kitty

Achemon Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Kitty,
This is a Hornworm in the family Sphingidae, and most caterpillars from this family have a caudal horn.  The genus
Eumorpha is unusual in that many species in the genus lose the caudal horn as fourth or fifth instar caterpillars.  A common California species is the Achemon Sphinx, Eumorpha achemon, but your aerial view does not reveal features that generally help us to identify the species.  That stated, we did find an aerial view posted to BugGuide, so we are relatively confident our identification is correct.  The Sphingidae of the Americas site may provide additional information you find interesting.  We also learned of Sphingidae of the Americas that the Vine Sphinx, Eumorpha fasciatas is a rare stray in California, and it has a variably colored caterpillar that also lacks a caudal horn, but we are still leaning toward the Achemon Sphinx.

Hi Daniel-
Thank you for the information! This is very helpful. What a beautiful moth! Maybe I will get to see one of those in the coming weeks. Thanks again!

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Violet ground beetle?
Location: Lower Laurentians, Quebec
May 4, 2017 5:58 am
is this a violet ground beetle? I found lots of them on my garden now the snow has cleared here in Quebec, Canada and I read that they eat slugs so I’m very excited. However I just wanted to check it is not some other type of beetle which is going to eat my plants?
Many thanks,
Signature: Anne

European Ground Beetle

Dear Anne,
We are curious where you discovered that this beetle is called a Violet Ground Beetle because that is not a common name used on BugGuide where we believe we have correctly identified this as a European Ground Beetle,
Carabus nemoralis, and according to BugGuide its range is:  “n. US & Canada, absent from Great Plains (BG data)  native to Europe, adventive in NA (in the east: NF-MN-ne.VA; in the west: BC-CA to AB-UT; isolated in the Saskatoon area, SK).”  According to Encyclopedia of Life:  “This species, in the subgenus Archicarabus, is a European introduction. Black or dark piceous, upper surface more or less cupreous or greenish bronze, sides of prothorax, and often elytra, usually violaceous. Elytron with three rows of foveae and on each interval with suggestion of five ridges, so irregular and confluent as to give a scaly appearance. Length 21 to 26 mm.”  According to Ground Beetles of Ireland:  “A very eurytopic species, clearly favoured by human activities and widespread in gardens, parks, pastureland and woods in lowland areas.”  According to  “Adults spend the day under loose bark or among deep plant litter, emerging at night to forage over a wide area, usually on grass or among litter but they also ascend mossy tree trunks. Prey includes slugs and snails, woodlice, millipedes and centipedes. Adults are active from early spring, breed in the summer, and persist into the autumn. ”  We are still curious where you found the common name Violet Ground Beetle because we have not found it used in relation to this species.

Thanks so much – the violet ground beetle is just my ignorance looking at pictures on the web and thinking I saw something that was the same. Thanks for your expert guidance. Brilliant service. I hope to use you again.
Many thanks,
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination