From the monthly archives: "October 2017"

Subject:  Stegosaurus roach
Geographic location of the bug:  Western North Carolina (Weaverville)
Date: 10/24/2017
Time: 09:03 PM EDT
This bug has been on the side of our house for several hours now… never seen anything like it. It has a razor back fin thing like a dinosaur.
How you want your letter signed:  Scooley

Wheel Bug

Dear Scooley,
This is a predatory Wheel Bug, and you are not the first person writing to us comparing a Wheel Bug to a Stegosaurus.

Subject:  Unknown Flying Insect
Geographic location of the bug:  Fort Worth, Texas
Date: 10/24/2017
Time: 09:38 PM EDT
I came across this insect in the woods near Fort Worth.  I tried to find it on insect identification sites without success.  Please help
How you want your letter signed:  Steven Autry


Dear Steven,
Your images of this harmless Scorpionfly are gorgeous.  According to  “
Scorpion flies got their name because the tail end of the adult male’s abdomen is swollen and turns up to look like a scorpion …, but the insect is harmless. The swelling is actually the genital capsule. The female … is similar, but with a slim, straight abdomen. Both have the beautiful wing pattern seen in the photograph below.  The adults are scavengers feeding on dead insects, rotting fruit, and even bird droppings. They prefer shady locations, and as they are weak fliers they tend to crawl about on vegetation. Although they are not common insects the shape of the head and the tail, if you find a male, makes them easy to recognise.


Dear Daniel,
Thanks for your help in identifying the Scorpionfly.  I must have scanned 500 photos of flying insect in Texas but never encountered this one.
Steve Autry

Subject:  caterpillar identification
Geographic location of the bug:  Malawi, Africa
Date: 10/24/2017
Time: 07:00 PM EDT
My niece found this in Malawi. Can you help id it? Thanks!
How you want your letter signed:  Marilyn

Tussock Moth Caterpillar we believe

Dear Marilyn,
Though we have not had any luck locating a matching image to your spectacular caterpillar, we believe it is a Tussock Moth Caterpillar in the subfamily Lymantriidae.  Here is a Getty Images example of an obviously different species.  Perhaps one of our readers will have better luck at an identification than we have had.

Subject:  big black bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Taunton, MA
Date: 10/24/2017
Time: 04:12 PM EDT
There was a small group of these bugs in the lawn – they seemed to be eating the leaves
How you want your letter signed:  Michele Restino

Oil Beetles

Dear Michele,
These Blister Beetles in the genus
Meloe are commonly called Oil Beetles.  We expect you might be able to witness mating activity if you are vigilant. 

Subject:  Cricket looking thingy
Geographic location of the bug:  Bel Air Maryland
Date: 10/24/2017
Time: 05:58 PM EDT
Not sure what he is, he didn’t show up in Google images. It hissed at me when I poked it with a leaf.
How you want your letter signed:  concerned person


Dear concerned person,
This is definitely a Cricket in the family Gryllidae and most likely a Field Cricket in the genus
Gryllus.  According to BugGuide:  “A very difficult genus, because most species are extremely similar in appearance and in morphology. In a given area, it is usually possible to learn the various species through experience, by learning which songs go with which crickets at what time of year. However, from photographs and even with pinned specimens it is very difficult if not impossible to identify many individuals with certainty. A few species are distinctive enough to recognize on sight, but most are not. This is a group where it is actually usually easier to identify a specimen by hearing it than by seeing it! Another complication is the fact that several species (especially in the west) do not even have names yet. And yet another complication is that females do not sing.”  Your individual is a singing male.

Subject:  Crazy looking flying something
Geographic location of the bug:  Bellingham washington
Date: 10/24/2017
Time: 12:33 PM EDT
Good day,
I was outside just as it was getting dark and I heard a weird bug flying around. Well it was a big something and then I notice a few more over by the house. It’s fall time here and nights get down to the 40’s.
I am sending a phone I took please feel free to use it.
How you want your letter signed:  TJA

Predaceous Diving Beetles

Dear TJA,
These are Predaceous Diving Beetles in the family Dytiscidae, but it is going to take someone with more expertise in the family to provide you with a species identification.  Though they are primarily aquatic, as you observed, they are capable of flight.  According to BugGuide:  “Adults with long hairs on hind tibiae and other modifications for swimming; move their hind legs together like oars, like Backswimmers do.”