From the monthly archives: "February 2020"

Subject:  Beetle? What is this?
Geographic location of the bug:  Southern California
Date: 02/27/2020
Time: 08:13 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  What kind of bug is this and will it bite? Does it fly?
How you want your letter signed:  Kayla

Spotted Tree Borer

Hi Kayla,
This is a Longhorned Borer Beetle in the family Cerambycidae, and we are very confident that it is a Spotted Tree Borer,
Synaphaeta guexi, based on images posted to the Natural History of Orange County site.  It does fly and it has very strong mandibles it uses to chew its way to the surface after it matures from a wood boring larva to a winged adult.

Subject:  Spider ID
Geographic location of the bug:  Llubovane Dam, Eswatini, Southern Africa
Date: 02/25/2020
Time: 12:03 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Good day,
Please can you ID these two spiders. The large one is beautiful. They were on a dead tree stump in the dam. The large one was walking down the stump under the water and coming back up, perhaps looking for food?
How you want your letter signed:  Jacqui

Fishing Spider we believe

Dear Jacqui,
The behavior you witnessed, “large one was walking down the stump under the water and coming back up, perhaps looking for food?”, and the markings on the carapace are both consistent with Fishing Spiders from the genus
Dolomedes found in North America, as evidenced by this BugGuide image.  While we have not had any luck locating any similar looking South African members of the genus, according to Wikipedia:  “The second largest number of species occur in tropical Africa.”  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to identify your gorgeous spider to the species level.  We do not know the identity of the smaller Spider in your image.  According to Science Direct:  “Sierwald (1988) examined predatory behavior of the African pisaurid Nilus curtus O.P.-Cambridge (=Thalassius spinosissimus [Karsch]). Its hunting posture is like that of Dolomedes, anchored by one or more hindlegs to an emergent object with its remaining legs spread on surface of water. When disturbed, the spider pulls itself below the surface of the water by crawling down an emergent object. They can remain submerged for up to 35 min. Prey swimming under water (insects, tadpoles) are grabbed by the front legs pushing down through the surface film. Prey trapped by surface tension were jumped on if close enough, or rowed to if further away.”  Members from the genus Nilus pictured on iNaturalist do resemble your individual.

Subject:  Jewel beatle?
Geographic location of the bug:  Mornington Penninsula Vic Australia
Date: 02/24/2020
Time: 08:41 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi Bug Man,l found this beetle on my deck. ls it a common beatle.  l have lived in Rosebud Vic Australia for 25 years and an avid gardener.  l have not seen it before.
How you want your letter signed:  Thank you regards Kerri

Variable Jewel Beetle

Dear Kerri,
This is indeed a Jewel Beetle or Metallic Borer Beetle in the family Buprestidae, and we believe we have correctly identified it as a Variable Jewel Beetle,
Temognatha variabilis, thanks to images on the Brisbane Insect site.  It is also pictured on Atlas of Living Australia.

Correction:  May 29, 2020
Thanks to comments from Allen Sundholm and Kimberi Pullen, we are revising our prior identification in lieu of this being Temognatha sanguinipennis.

Subject (please be succinct, descriptive and specific):  children’s book with male horsefly character
Date: 02/22/2020
Time: 04:08 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi – I’m writing a children’s book and one of the main characters is a male horsefly. I’ve been trying to find what types of plants male horseflies (specifically in the area of Kentucky) would be most attracted to.  I haven’t been able to find anything so far.  Any help would be appreciated.  Thank you.  Diana Wilburn

Male Black Horse Fly on Corn Leaf

Dear Diana,
Most of the images we have of male Horse Flies were not taken on plants, however, we did locate an image in our archives of a male Black Horse fly from nearby Indiana that was taken on the leaf of a corn plant.  According to BugGuide:  “adult females feed on vertebrate blood, usually of warm-blooded animals; males (also females in a few spp. in all 3 subfamilies) visit flowers.”  Of the Black Horse Fly,
Tabanus atratus, BugGuide notes:  “males, which lack mandibles, feed on nectar and plant juices.”  We suspect umble-shaped flowers in the family Apiaceae including parsley, carrots, dill and Queen Anne’s lace that attract many pollinating flies would also be a choice for Horse Flies, and we have images in our archive showing a Male Horse Fly (Hybomitra cincta) on a parsley blossom.  Other images we located online of male Horse Flies feeding on other umble blossoms include Nature Picture Library where it is on fennel, iStock Getty Images where the male Horse Fly is feeding on Hogweed, and Wikipedia where it states:  “they mainly feed on nectar of flowers (especially of Apiaceae species).”  Composite flowers in the family Asteraceae, are also good food sources including this Adobe Stock Images example of a male Horse Fly on Goldenrod or this Alamy image of a male Horse Fly on a coneflower.

Male Horse Fly on Parsley

Dear Daniel,
Wow what a detailed answer, thank you.  This is so helpful.
I also ordered a copy of your book.  Amazing what you learn and get interested in when you take a deep dive into something.
If/ when this books ends going to print I’ll definitely send a copy.
Thanks again
Good Luck with your book Diana.  We are glad we were helpful.


Subject:  Found this little guy in the pool
Geographic location of the bug:  Namibia, Windhoek
Date: 02/19/2020
Time: 11:26 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I’m living in Namibia for 7 years now and I’m pretty attentive if it comes to insects. But I’ve never seen this guy before. The smell when threatened reminds me of Heteroptera. It is currently summer and rain season.
How you want your letter signed:  Kind Regards

Mottled Avocado Bug

This Planthopper belongs to the order Hemiptera which contains the True Bugs in the suborder Heteroptera and many members of the family, which includes Stink Bugs, produce a noticeable odor.  Earlier today we posted additional images of what we have identified as the Mottled Avocado Bug, Parapioxys jucundus

Subject:  Bright happy worm
Geographic location of the bug:  Livermore, KY
Date: 02/20/2020
Time: 06:37 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This pretty little worm was found on a tractor in the river bottoms of Livermore,KY. It was late summer, around the end of August when it was found. I have never seen a worm like this before and no one I’ve asked can identify it either. I’d love to know what this little guy’s species is!
How you want your letter signed:  Curious worm lady

Stinging Rose Caterpiller

Dear Curious worm lady,
Your “bright happy worm” is a perfect example of the concept of “look but don’t touch” because it is a Stinging Slug Caterpillar in the family Limacodidae.  We identified it as a Stinging Rose Caterpiller,
Parasa indetermina, thanks to this image on BugGuide.