From the monthly archives: "January 2018"

Subject:  What caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  #dargle, kzn
Date: 01/30/2018
Time: 05:56 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This caterpillar is in my garden. Can you tell me what caterpillar it is please?
How you want your letter signed:  Many thanks Tania

Thank you but I managed to find it eventually on the net.  It’s an oleander hawk moth.

Pre-Pupal Oleander Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Hi Tania,
Thanks for informing us that you identified your Oleander Hawkmoth Caterpillar.  The yellow coloration and its location on the ground indicate it is pre-pupal, and about to undergo metamorphosis.

Subject:  large milkweed bugs
Geographic location of the bug:  San Diego co
Date: 01/30/2018
Time: 06:06 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi,
I need help.  I have a plant that I did not know what it was.  Have decided to cut it down but when I was, I found this red and black bug on it.  I looked it up.  It is a large milkweed bug.  I figured this must be a milkweed plant.  The bees love the flowers and it has large smooth skinned pods.  The bugs love it.  I found them very interesting and have been watching them for about a month.  I may have made a mistake.  They seem to bread excessively.  It was fun to watch 30 or 50 little tiny things grow bigger but now I think there are many more than that.  They seem to still want to bread and the little things are all over the plant.  Am I in trouble?  What should I do?  Thanks for your advise.
How you want your letter signed —
Susan Rykowski

Large Milkweed Bug with nymphs

Hi Susan,
We are pretty certain the plant in question is a Bladder Flower,
Araujia sericifera, which is native to South America and is featured on the Weeds of Australia website.  We faced a similar quandary with this plant several years ago when it sprouted on the fence at the What’s That Bug? offices.  We removed it after it bloomed and produced large pods.  The plant has a milky sap, which is the reason it has attracted the Large Milkweed Bugs.  Large Milkweed Bugs are native and they will not harm other plants in your yard.  They do not damage milkweed, but since they feed on seeds, they will reduce the number of viable seeds produced by a plant.  We do not provide extermination advice.  If you remove the bladder flower, an invasive species, you will also remove the food source for the Large Milkweed Bugs, though if there is oleander nearby, they will also feed on oleander.

Large Milkweed Bugs with nymphs

Thanks, I did not know how dangerous it would be to have the insects in the yard in those quantities.  I am going to take the plant down after they all break open so the guys can eat the seeds.  Then limit its size and location.  It takes over unless you watch it, which I did not.  No one is going to believe you answered me and actually knew what it was.  We have been having a hard time trying to find out what it was.  I have been told you could eat the pods and you could not.  I am not!  Thanks for all your advise!  Really helpful.

I have been very very interested in the large milkweed bugs.  This is so weird for me because I have always been afraid of bugs.  I am sending this picture because I think it so strange.  I have been watching them in the evening getting on top of each other.  They pull the younger ones underneath.  In the morning when the sun hits them the ones on top start to wake up and then they start waking each of the ones underneath.  Like they are checking them.  Do you know if what I am saying is true?  Thanks  Susan

Large Milkweed Bugs

Hi again Susan,
Thanks for the update on your Large Milkweed Bugs.  There are some Heteropterans, the order to which the Large Milkweed Bug belongs, that practice parental care, including some Stink Bugs like the one pictured on Alamy and some Treehoppers like those pictured in the Bug of the Week posting of the University of Maryland.  We have not heard of this behavior in Large Milkweed Bugs, and the newest images you provided only depict immature individuals.  This is more likely a situation where forming aggregations of individuals is mutually beneficial and it is not an example of caring for younger individuals.

Update:  March 1, 2018
Hi Daniel
Hope you are not angry that I am contacting you again.  Why are some of the larger bugs turning white.  See the picture.  I don’t know if it is a young bug getting mature or a mature bug getting older.
Susan Rykowski

Newly Metamorphosed Large Milkweed Bug

No Problem Susan.  The light individual is newly metamorphosed, and once the exoskeleton fully hardens, the color will darken.

Subject:  Identifying a spider
Geographic location of the bug:  Bloemfontein South Africa
Date: 01/12/2018
Time: 04:10 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Good day,
I found this spider in my house and just want to make sure my identification is correct, is the spider a wolf spider? And if so are they to be considered dangerous for humans?
How you want your letter signed:  Anonymous

Female Wolf Spider with Spiderlings

This is indeed a Wolf Spider.  She is a female with her brood of Spiderlings.  Wolf Spiders are considered harmless to humans.

Subject:  Mystery nest
Geographic location of the bug:  Buenos Aires, Argentina
Date: 01/12/2018
Time: 10:05 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Dear Mr Bugman,
I come to ask you about the small nest that’s formed on my ficus tree. I live in the Southern Hemisphere and it’s summer right now. I suspect it’s some kind of wasp nest. What can you tell me about it? Also, should I just leave it alone?
It’s about 5 cm x 4 cm x 4 cm by the way
How you want your letter signed:  Sofi

Potter Wasp Nest

Dear Sofi,
You are correct that this is a Wasp Nest, and since it is a non-aggressive solitary Potter Wasp, there is no need to fear it or to remove it.  Potter Wasps or Mason Wasps in the subfamily Eumeninae construct nests of mud.  Here is a BugGuide image for comparison.

Potter Wasp Nest

Thank you!!! It’s so cool you were able to identify it!

Subject:  Nice brown moth
Geographic location of the bug:  Ha’iku, Maui, Hawaii
Date: 01/19/2018
Time: 11:50 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Aloha, came across this lovely moth on 18 January 18, 12:30pm. It was about 2.5″ long or so. Forgot to measure it. This is a screened window under an awning, facing west, at a restaurant.
As we have critters here from all over the world, I thought you might have some idea where this one is from and what it is.
Many thanks for all you do.
How you want your letter signed:  Eliza

Owlet Moth

Dear Eliza,
We believe this is an Owlet Moth in the superfamily Noctuoidea, and our searching has produced one similar looking but different individual, the Forage Looper, on Insect Identification for the Casual Observer.  We are posting your image and we will continue to research this.  Perhaps one of our readers will have better luck than we have had.

Subject:  Moth larvae
Geographic location of the bug:  Morayfield, Queensland
Date: 01/23/2018
Time: 09:10 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Please help! These little critters are being laid by moths I believe. I find them mostly outside my house for example under the eaves but most annoyingly under my pergola or even inside if I leave the door open. They eventually get free from there ‘nest’ and dangle down in a long silk like train, falling onto me and I find them all over me! I imagine they would also be getting into my hair and they are giving me the eeby jeebies! This photo was taken looking down when I found a ‘nest’ under my outdoor glass table. Do you know what type of moth lays these little buggers and how do I deter them? (The moths)
Thank you!
How you want your letter signed:  Kind Regards, Raelene

Possibly Tussock Moth Hatchlings

Dear Raelene,
Immature Caterpillars can be difficult to identify with certainty.  Is there a pine tree nearby?  These look like they might be hatchlings of the Painted Pine Moth or White Spotted Tussock Moth,
Orgyia australia, a species pictured on the Brisbane Insect site.  You need to scroll down to see the egg mass.  If our identification is correct, the female that laid these eggs is flightless, and the eggs are laid in the remnants of the cocoon from which she emerged.  Winged males will fly to the female to mate.  We do not provide extermination advice.