From the monthly archives: "February 2019"

Subject:  What’s in the eggplant patch?
Geographic location of the bug:  Brisbane, Australia (inner city)
Date: 02/15/2019
Time: 01:41 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi Bugman,
These bugs have been in my eggplant patch for some time now. I am still getting eggplants so they don’t seem too harmful, but no one knows what they are! They can fly, but they seem to prefer walking. I once counted 30 in the patch.
Location: Brisbane, Australia. Time: Summer. Maybe relevant this is in a fifth floor balcony garden. There are plenty of bugs in the garden overall, but these ones seem to have a monopoly on the eggplant.
How you want your letter signed:  The Curious Eggplant Grower

Mango Flower Beetles

Dear Curious Eggplant Grower,
You had us with your subject line:  What’s in the eggplant patch?
These are Scarab Beetles and we are inclined to speculate they are in the Fruit and Flower Chafer subfamily Cetoniinae.  We are continuing research; we just wanted you to know where to begin your own research.
There seems to be a considerable amount of variation in color and markings on the Mango Flower Beetle,
Protaetia fusca, pictured on the Brisbane Insect site, but though none exactly matches the warm golden-bronze color of the individuals you submitted, we nonetheless believe that species is correct.
Based on the images and the statement “Elytra of male with apical spines, female lacking spines” posted on the Hawaiian Scarab ID site, the individual on the right in your image, with the spines on the posterior ends of the elytra or wing covers, is a male.  The site also states:  “In Australia, both adults and larvae are found throughout the year. Females deposit as many as 147 eggs in humus during their 6–7 month adult lifespans. Larvae feed on organic materials within the soil rather than live plant roots and reached maturity in roughly 50 days. Natural enemies include wasps (
Scolia spp.) that attack larvae, a variety of birds, and Aspergillus fIavus (a fungus that sometimes infects adults).”
We have been getting numerous comments lately from Australia regarding the Blue Flower Wasp, an Australian Scoliid Wasp, indicating they have plentiful prey, the larvae of Scarab Beetles.

Thanks so much! I think you are on the money!
Although, I am a little fascinated they are just sticking to the eggplants, and ignoring the other delights, such as the mango tree!

Subject:  Milkweed Bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Central Florida
Date: 02/14/2019
Time: 12:04 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello Bugman!
While visiting friends in Rockledge, Florida, they showed me one of their milkweed plants that had many of these milkweed bugs on them. I haven’t, in the past, considered them to be harmful to milkweed, but would (roughly) 20 insects on one plant kill the it?
They are pesticide-free (unlike much of the rest of Florida ah-hem), so they’re either letting them be or picking them off. What advice can I give them?
Thank you!
How you want your letter signed:  Kenda

Large Milkweed Bug

Hi Kenda,
Large Milkweed Bugs will not harm the plant.  They do feed on seeds, so large numbers of Large Milkweed Bugs might reduce seed production, but again, they do not harm the milkweed plants.

Excellent news! Thanks for all you do, Daniel, to make the planet a better place!

Subject:  Colourful fly
Geographic location of the bug:  Oak Beach qld
Date: 02/14/2019
Time: 09:17 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Spotted this beautiful fly.  First time I have seen one like this.  Just wondering what it is
How you want your letter signed:  Rhonda

Tachinid Fly

Dear Rhonda,
This is a parasitic Tachinid Fly, and according to BugGuide:  “Larval stages are parasitoids of other arthropods; hosts include members of 11 insect orders, centipedes, spiders, and scorpions. Some tachinids are very host-specific, others parasitize a wide variety of hosts. The most common hosts are caterpillars. Some tachinids deposit their eggs directly on the body of their host, and it is not uncommon to see caterpillars with several tachinid eggs on them. Upon hatching the larva usually burrows into its host and feeds internally. Full-grown larva leaves the host and pupates nearby.”  Your individual resembles this colorful Tachinid Fly from New Guinea.  The Museums Victoria Collection has a similar looking individual identified in the genus Rutilia.  This Rutilia species on FlickR also looks similar, but not exactly correct.  The Brisbane Insect site has images of several species in the genus Rutilia, and we believe the genus is correct, but we are not certain of the species.  Tachinid Flies are called Bristle Flies in Australia.

Subject:  Is this a fly or a wasp?
Geographic location of the bug:  Stamsund, Lofoten Islands, Norway
Date: 02/15/2019
Time: 07:19 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi,
I took this picture a couple of years ago in my garden and I never was able to find a proper answer. I wonder if you maybe can give me a clue at least? The colors are very much like a wasp, but the shape doesn’t. From what I remember, it’s bigger than a normal fly.
Cheers from Norway
How you want your letter signed:  Alberto Martinez

Hover Fly

Dear Alberto,
This is a Hover Fly or Flower Fly in the family Syrphidae, and many harmless members of the family benefit from mimicking stinging Bees or Wasps.  Based on this Wikimedia posting, we believe Blomsterfluer is the common name for Hover Fly in Norway.  Your individual looks very similar to 
Chrysotoxum arcuatum which is pictured on

Very cool! Thank you very much for all the information!
Regards from Norway

Hi again Alberto,
21 years ago, Daniel traveled to Oslo and had an exhibition at UKS called Rudimentary Particles.

Subject:  It looked like its legs were leaves
Geographic location of the bug:  Poland
Date: 02/15/2019
Time: 09:32 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi, I found this bug in my curtain, i’ve searched through google – its not phyllium and I dont think its coreidae’s family. I took it outside, but Im really curious what it is
How you want your letter signed:  Nikola

Masked Hunter

Dear Nikola,
This is an immature Masked Hunter, a beneficial, predatory Assassin Bug that will prey upon unwanted visitors in your home.  Masked Hunters seem to have adapted quite well to cohabitation with humans.  The appearance of its legs is due to the debris that sticks to its exoskeleton, a camouflage technique that benefits the Masked Hunter.  There is another family of True Bugs known as Leaf Footed Bugs, but that is a different family.

Subject:  Caterpillar eating water hyacinth
Geographic location of the bug:  Lake Hiawassee, Orlando, Florida
Date: 02/12/2019
Time: 02:02 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Closest I can find is Larva of the arctiid moth Paracles sp.
How you want your letter signed:  Phil

Tiger Moth Caterpillar on Water Hyacinth

Dear Phil,
We believe you might be correct.  We found an posting of
Paracles tenuis and the site states:  “Host:  common water hyacinth” and we are presuming the water hyacinth is the invasive species in question.  iNaturalist lists the genus Paracles in South America.  We don’t find the species listed on BugGuide, so this might be a new North American sighting.  Right now we are being thwarted in our research by a glacially slow internet.  We want to browse all Arctiinae caterpillars on BugGuide before we eliminate any native species.

Dear Daniel,
Thanks for the reply and your efforts in this matter. The one I sent you a picture escaped when I wasn’t looking. I found a second smaller one (earlier instar, picture attached) and am continuing to look for others as I am mechanically removing the water hyacinth from the lake as it is an exotic and extremely invasive plant. I will attempt to rear this and any others I find to the adult moth to better secure the identification.
Thanks so much for your help.

Tiger Moth Caterpillar

Dear Phil,
Good luck eradicating those water hyacinths, an invasive plant species from the Amazon.  We wonder if the caterpillars you found are part of a program to help control the water hyacinths with biological methods.  We look forward to any further updated you can provide, including images of the adult moth.

Tiger Moth Caterpillar

Dear Daniel,
I wouldn’t suspect the caterpillar as a means of control. I have found only 5 in an area of 400 sqft and from what I have seen they only sample a few leaves before moving onto another plant.
In addition to my hand removal of the water hyacinth, the city has sprayed a herbicide twice so far killing (and leaving to rot in place) far more than I could hope to remove by hand.
Bit by bit, but is an aggressive plant and dense to the point of killing all plants below it.
Thanks for your help. I will be back if I am successful in rearing a caterpillar.
Phil Wittman
Come look a Cobra in the eye!