From the monthly archives: "March 2018"

Subject:  What’s this thing
Geographic location of the bug:  Melbourne, Australia
Date: 03/30/2018
Time: 02:39 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  We found this moving in and out of a hole in the ground.
It’s about 10cm long, and almost 2cm in diameter.
How you want your letter signed:  Sandford Family

Rain Moth Pupa

Dear Sanford Family,
This is a moth pupa, and that of quite a large moth.  We believe we have correctly identified it as a Rain Moth Pupa,
Trictena atripalpis, thanks to an image on Butterfly House where it states:  “The caterpillars of this particular species live in tunnels in the ground where they feed on the roots of adjacent Australian native trees” including red gum.  The site also indicates:  “The moths a famous for being able to predict rain. In some areas in autumn, the moths appear on only one night each year, yet all appear together in droves, and always just a few hours before a major downpour in that area. Perhaps the rain helps wash the scattered eggs into crevices in the ground, as well as dormant seeds to germinate, so that after the eggs hatch: the young caterpillars can easily find roots on which to feed.”  That causes us to wonder if perhaps the sighting coincided with rain.  Additional images can be found on Insects of Tasmania where it states:  ” The Hepialid larvae live in silk lined holes and come out at night to feed. They then pupate in the hole.  Trictena atripalpis often leave their pupal case half out of their exit hole.”  We suspect that by the time you get this message, the adult moth might have already emerged from the pupa.

Rain Moth Pupa

Thanks heaps for your reply.
You certainly pinpointed it.
It hatched a day later, however but no rain was in sight. Perhaps we had disturbed it’s nature cycle.
However we did take a time-lapse of it one night after it had hatched where you can see it laying eggs.
I’ll send you a link once we’ve uploaded it.
The Sandford Family.

Rain Moth Pupa

Subject:  Australian Caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Queensland, Australia
Date: 03/30/2018
Time: 09:04 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Found this large caterpillar on a vine bush just curious as to what it is
How you want your letter signed:  Anonymous

Hornworm: Gnathothlibus eras

Thanks to Butterfly House, we quickly identified this Hornworm as Gnathothlibus eras, the Aussie White-Brow Hawkmoth.  Butterfly House states:  “When disturbed, the caterpillar curls its head down onto its first two pairs of legs, and displays the third pair. The caterpillar can also exude liquid from its mouth, and has even been heard to give a squeal.”  Listed food plants include Grape vine and Sweet Potato Vine.

Hornworm: Gnathothlibus eras

Subject:  octopus looking bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Arenal, Costa Rica
Date: 03/28/2018
Time: 07:02 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I found the weirdest insect in Costa Rica Arenal at a Hotel Lomas Del Volcan
it was near the pool on a palm leaf. When we first saw it we thought it was dead leaf on the palm  tree. I shook the palm leaf and it fell to the ground that is when I saw it was a living thing.  One of the appendages came off. I think this might be a defense I am not sure.  I picked it up and we got one pic of the underside looked like some type of slug.  I then turned it back upright and put it back on the palm leaf. It looked like it puffed up and was going to metamorph into something else. In the morning I checked on it and it had moved again from the underside of the leaf to the top of the palm leave. so it looked like it formed a protection and then moved when it was ready. Very strange looking forward to knowing if you have ever seen anything like this before.
How you want your letter signed:  Terri Martin

Monkey Slug

Dear Terri,
This is the caterpillar of a moth in the genus
Phobetron, and in North America, the species Phobetron pithecium, the Hag Moth has a similar looking caterpillar commonly called a Monkey Slug, but caution should be exercised when handling the unusual caterpillar as it is capable of stinging.  Researchgate has a scholarly article entitled Twenty-Five new species of Costa Rican Limacodidae that lists six newly discovered species in the Phobetron complex including Phobetron guzmanae and Alex Hyde PHotography has an image of an adult Phobetron hipparchia from Costa Rica.  If Alamy is correct, the Monkey Slug ranges as far south as Costa Rica, but we would not rule out that your caterpillar might be a member of a different species in the genus or possibly the genus complex mentioned earlier. 

Subject:  Mating Lady Beetles
Geographic location of the bug:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
Date:  3/29/2018
Late in the afternoon, after work, Daniel decided to do some weeding in the garden.  The annual wildflowers, including fiesta flowers, lupines and California poppies are blooming and other wildflower seeds are sprouted.  Around dusk (slow shutter speed resulted in blurry image), Daniel noticed what he believes are Convergent Lady Beetles mating.  It is very exciting to see a native Lady Beetle in the garden as opposed to the invasive Multicolored Asian Lady Beetles that are displacing native species in many places in North America.  The Natural History of Orange County has some excellent images of Convergent Lady Beetles, and BugGuide states they feed on:  “Aphids, also whiteflies and other soft bodied insects.”

Mating Convergent Lady Beetles

We got trolled on Facebook by Toni Merida:  How can anyone who knows that much about gardening not know what a ladybug is?

The answer to Toni’s question is that while our editorial staff knew that these were Lady Beetles, we were uncertain of the species and we wanted to substantiate the species since we tend to see invasive Multicolored Asian Lady Beetles in our garden, and that larger, more aggressive species is contributing to the decline of many native species of Lady Beetles.

Subject:  Beetle with tree bark camoflauge
Geographic location of the bug:  Near Lake Burrendong in NSW Australia
Date: 03/29/2018
Time: 10:03 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello,
On the 28h of March, in the location specified, a beetle with an interesting camoflauge that looked rather like tree bark landed on my green t-shirt. I was curious as to what kind of beetle it was so I managed to take a few photos before it flew away. It stayed on my t-shirt without moving very much for quite a while, maybe 10-20 minutes before it flew away. I knew it was a beetle of some sort since it had wing covers, which I saw when it took flight. It also had six legs, which I observed while it walked across my t-shirt.
It would be great if this beetle could be identified, thanks.
How you want your letter signed:  A 16 year old, Alvin Yao

Bark Gnawing Beetle

Dear Alvin,
The best clue we have based on your image as we embark upon trying to provide you with an identification are the beaded or moniliform (see BugGuide) antennae.  We searched the Brisbane Insect site for Darkling Beetles, but found nothing similar.  We just took a guess at the family.  We will post your images as unidentified and continue to research your request.  Perhaps one of our readers will write in with an identification.

Bark Gnawing Beetle

Update:  Thanks to a comment from frequent contributor Karl, we agree that this is a Bark Gnawing Beetle which is depicted on Life Unseen.

Subject:  Death’s Head Hawkmoth
Geographic location of the bug:  Pretoria East
Date: 03/29/2018
Time: 04:24 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I think I have identified this large and beautiful caterpillar found on a gooseberry bush in my garden today.   I just thought I’d share the pic for those interested.
How you want your letter signed:  Andrew Bleeker

Death’s Head Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Dear Andrew,
Thank you so much for sending in your gorgeous image of a Death’s Head Hawkmoth Caterpillar.