From the monthly archives: "May 2019"

Subject:  Caterpillar eating Mexican Primrose
Geographic location of the bug:  West LosAngeles
Date: 05/27/2019
Time: 07:53 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi Bugman,
Is this the caterpillar that’s usually found on tomato plants?
How you want your letter signed:  Jeff Bremer

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Jeff,
This is a very green variation of the highly variable Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar.  Daniel saw thousands of black and yellow Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillars munching on the wildflowers in Joshua Tree National Park this spring.  When there is significant rainfall in desert areas, there are tremendous population explosions of this species.  See BugGuide for an example of a green variant.  The Whitelined Sphinx moth is a lovely pollinator that is often mistaken for a hummingbird.  Several related species, including the Tobacco Hornworm and Tomato Hornworm feed on tomatoes and other related garden plants.

Whitlelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Subject:  What insect is this?
Geographic location of the bug:  South Africa, Freestate, Bloemfontein
Date: 05/25/2019
Time: 12:54 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Was asked to find out what kind of bug this is and I cannot find any sources to identify it.
How you want your letter signed:  Elden

Spiny Bug

Dear Elden,
We spent a good amount of time attempting to identify your fascinating looking insect, and we finally decided to post it as Unidentified, a tag with far too many postings than we would like.  We feel very confident this is a True Bug in the suborder Heteroptera and we do not think it is a Lace Bug, but our searching produced nothing.  We even tried calling it “puzzle-shaped” to no avail.  We know we have a very similar looking True Bug in our archives, and we hope to have you a more definite identification soon.  Perhaps one of our readers will recognize this interesting insect.

Update:  Spiny True Bug
Thanks to a comment from Karl who assisted us in the past, we were able to locate the previous submission in our archives, the uncharacteristic looking Coreid Bug, possibly Pephricus livingstonei, commonly called a Spiny Bug.

Subject:  Black Segmented Tapered
Geographic location of the bug:  Northern Virginia
Date: 05/25/2019
Time: 09:27 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Dear Bugman,
While walking in a wooded area near a small body of water, we spotted this cute creature crawling among the leaves and hiding.  It crawled in a wavy “S” formation when it changed direction.  Not like pill bugs that seem to keep their segments parallel when they crawl. Its head reminded me of a type of roach I saw in Florida and also a black cricket. Thank you!
How you want your letter signed:  A fellow bug enthusiast

Carrion Beetle Larva

Dear fellow bug enthusiast,
This is a larval insects and larvae can be very difficult to identify with accuracy.  We believe this is a Carrion Beetle larva from the family Sylphidae.  Here is a BugGuide image for comparison.  The female Carrion Beetle lays her eggs on or near a recent corpse, and the larvae feed on the rotting flesh, though many species will also feed on fungus.  

That’s exactly it! Thank you!

Subject:  What is this
Geographic location of the bug:  Carlsbad, NM
Date: 05/26/2019
Time: 11:30 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  It flew away shortly after the photo.
How you want your letter signed:  Brent Griffith

Blister Beetle

Dear Brent,
This is a Blister Beetle in the genus
Pyrata, but it does not appear to be the similar looking Charlie Brown Blister Beetle.  According to BugGuide:  “27 spp. in our area.”

Subjec:  Black fly with beautiful wings
Geographic location of the bug:  Brussels, Belgium
Date: 05/27/2019
Time: 01:35 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  It was the first time seeing this fly today.  The weather was a mild May Day. It’s wings were what caught my attention
How you want your letter signed:  Eigo Creativity

Bee Fly

Dear Eigo Creativity,
This is a Bee Fly in the family Bombyliidae and it looks very similar to our North American Tiger Bee Fly.  We believe your species is
Anthrax anthrax which is pictured on Dave’s Garden.

Subject:  Green blister bug?
Geographic location of the bug:  Isle of Wight, UK
Date: 05/25/2019
Time: 02:17 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi, found this bug near Orchard Bay on the Isle of Wight in England. From googling it looks like a green blister bug, but they don’t seem like they’re in the UK?
How you want your letter signed:  Jack

Spanish Fly and Soft Winged Flower Beetle

Dear Jack,
This is a very exciting posting for us.  We believe your Blister Beetle is the true Spanish Fly,
Lytta vesicatoria, which is pictured on UK Beetle Recording with some southern sightings including the Isle of Wight.  According to NBN Atlas:  “Spanish fly is an emerald-green beetle, Lytta vesicatoria, in the blister beetle family (Meloidae). It and other such species were used in preparations offered by traditional apothecaries, often referred to as Cantharides or Spanish fly. The insect is the source of the terpenoid cantharidin, a toxic blistering agent once used as an aphrodisiac.”  GBIF has an interesting article.  We are very curious about the smaller beetle in your image, which though the coloration is the same, appears to be a different species.

Hi Daniel,
Thanks for getting back and helping identify the species in the photo, the links you included are interesting. There were more than just those 2, there were 10-15 of the smaller ones, all on the same flowers as in the picture. Took a photo of that one as it was the biggest by far, probably about 2 inches.
I didn’t think much of the size difference and just figured it was age/maturity, but am also intrigued having now looked at the life cycle of a beetle? Am I right in thinking they’d emerge from the pupa at their fully grown size?
Many Thanks,

Hi again Jack,
When insects including Beetles emerge from the pupa, they are fully grown.  Smaller individuals probably did not feed as well during the larval stage, hence the smaller size.
Update:  June 20, 2019
Thanks to a comment from Jim, we now know that the smaller beetle is a Soft Winged Flower Beetle in the family Dasyticidae:  Psilothrix viridicoeruleus.  There are images on UK Beetle Recording.