From the monthly archives: "May 2020"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Spanish fly?
Geographic location of the bug:  Ipswich east anglia
Date: 05/27/2020
Time: 07:21 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi bugman just spotted this on a margarita plant and can’t identify it! From google images it looks like a spanish fly
How you want your letter signed:  Chris

Thick Legged Flower Beetle

Dear Chris,
This is not the Blister Beetle commonly called Spanish Fly.  It is a Thick Legged Flower Beetle,
Oedemera nobilis, which is profiled on Wildlife Insight where it states it is:  “a common beetle that can be identified by its dazzling colour and gap in the elytra (wing case). This gap in the elytra is not always so obvious but generally gives the appearance of wings that don’t close properly over its back. The males are very distinctive having obvious green bulges in their legs. These beetles certainly catch the eye with their metallic green wing cases glistenening in the sunlight as they feed in the open on flower heads.”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Huge black beetle
Geographic location of the bug:  Ontario Canada
Date: 05/26/2020
Time: 11:56 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  What is this bug?
How you want your letter signed:  Hello

Toe-Biter

This is not a Beetle.  It is anaquatic Giant Water Bug commonly called a Toe-Biter.

 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Luna Moth
Geographic location of the bug:  Wakefield Quebec
Date: 05/27/2020
Time: 10:38 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This guy was a pleasant surprise today to my 5 year old son/ant and bug collector
How you want your letter signed:  Gene

Luna Moth

Dear Gene,
We are so excited that your submission is our first Luna Moth posting of the year, though one can only guess how many Luna Moth submissions arrived between April 21 when Daniel last checked his emails and now.  Canadian sightings are occur around June, and our earliest sightings, sometimes as early as January or February, are generally from Texas and Florida.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Karner blue butterfly
Geographic location of the bug:  Albany Pine Bush, Albany, NY
Date: 05/27/2020
Time: 05:43 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi What’s that Bug!
Here’s a mystery for you. I’m quite certain this is a Karner blue butterfly, Plebejus melissa samuelis. You may be aware that our Albany Pine Bush in upstate New York is one of the few habitats this endangered subspecies can thrive, since its larvae feed only on the wild blue lupine that grows here. I saw quite a few Karner blues out among the lupines on this visit! None of our other local blues have that much orange along the wing, so it has to be a Karner.
The mystery: what the heck is going on with its abdomen? What is that orange stuff at the end? I thought it might be laying an egg, but as far as I can tell their eggs are light gray or white, not orange. And anyway it’s not on a lupine–I think the plant is a raspberry or blackberry. It stayed in this position for a couple of minutes before fluttering off, and I didn’t realize there was anything weird until I looked at the photos.
I’ll also include a better image of a different individual for your enjoyment. This little guy seemed to be more interested in lapping up my sweat than anything else–I tried to coax it onto a lupine, but it wouldn’t leave!
How you want your letter signed:  Susan B.

Male Karner Blue exposing his genitalia

Dear Susan,
Though we are quite excited to post your Karner Blue images, we will start with the mystery.  We don’t know what that is, but we suspect it is not a good thing.  We suspect this might be evidence of parasitism, possibly Dipteran, meaning a type of fly.  Though we don’t often site Wikipedia, it does provide this information “A tachinid fly,
Aplomya theclarum, has also been listed as a Karner blue butterfly parasite.”*  We will attempt to get a second opinion on this matter.  Meanwhile, we really are thrilled with your images of Karner Blues.  Not only was it described by one of Daniel’s favorite writers, Vladimir Nabokov, it is a new species for our site that currently contains over postings. 

Karner Blue

*Haack, Robert A. (1993). “The endangered Karner blue butterfly (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae): biology, management considerations, and data gaps”. In Gillespie, Andrew R.; Parker, George R.; Pope, Phillip E. (eds.). Proceedings, 9th central hardwood forest conference; 1993 March 8–10; West Lafayette, IN. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-161. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. pp. 83–100.

Thank you so much for your reply! I was pretty excited to spot so many Karner blues that day—usually I don’t get out to the Pine Bush until later in the year, when they are scarcer. I’ll be going back early in the morning to see if I can catch them basking with their wings open.
That’s a good thought that the orange mass may be parasites. I hadn’t even considered that it could be somebody else’s eggs. I’ve sent the image along to the staff at the Albany Pine Bush to see if they can identify it for sure, and also so that they can document it, since they monitor all the happenings with the wildlife there.
Susan B.
Karner blue update—I heard back from the entomologist at the Albany Pine Bush regarding the weird orange mass on my Karner blue butterfly. Here’s her response (with her permission to share):
“Hi Susan,
Thanks for sending along the images! I have to tell you, what you are seeing there at the end of the abdomen is rated PG-13. What you captured is the genitalia of a male karner. They don’t usually flash them like that, it is unusual to see as they are usually kept internally until mating. An interesting thing to document, for sure! Thanks again for sharing.
Best,
Dillon”
What a relief to hear that I was only witnessing a bit of lepidopteran exhibitionism, and not a parasite infestation (fascinating though that would be)!
-Susan B.

Thanks for the fascinating update Susan.  It is interesting that Nabokov classified many of the Blues using a theoretical taxonomy that he devised after dissecting the genitalia of museum specimens.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Dark Winged Beauty
Geographic location of the bug:  Ventura, California
Date: 05/25/2020
Time: 07:27 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Dear Bugman,
I have noticed this beauty on my patio the past few days. It stays close and sometimes pauses  briefly to bask in the sunlight. I was hoping to catch a picture of the open wing span, but instead it kept it’s wings together, eventually took flight   pausing mid air about 6 inches from my face and then departed.
How you want your letter signed:  Melanie in the Irish Chain

Mourning Cloak

Dear Melanie on the Irish Chain,
Thank you so much for your entertaining telephone call describing this beauty, and you actually identified it as a Mourning Cloak during the call.  You are absolutely correct.  The Mourning Cloak often basks in the sun, and it is rarely seen nectaring from flowers.  According to BugGuide:  “Adults feed primarily on tree sap (oaks preferred) and rotting fruit; only occasionally on flower nectar.”  Your posting lured Daniel back to the site he has ignored for nearly five weeks, and he has never in the eighteen years the site has existed, been away that long, even in the early days of exhausted band width when after about ten days, Daniel could post no more until the first of the next month.  Thanks again for our enjoyable morning conversations and for making Daniel realize he really does need to make at least one posting per day.  Though the month is nearly over, Daniel never selected a Bug of the Month for May 2020, so since it is the first identification request we have filled since April 21, it is now the Bug of the Month for May 2020.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Gentle Readers,
Since the onset of COVID-19, Daniel has been overwhelmed with computer based activities, including teaching college students online and running ZOOM meetings, and to maintain mindfulness as well as having a real sense of physical accomplishment, he has eschewed all leisurely contact with the computer, including responding to and posting your many submitted identification queries, and he has instead devoted time to being in contact with the earth, his garden and the diversity of wildlife and plants that share that space with him.  Please forgive his inattentions to this website he really does love so much.  He has not been troubled with ill health, either physical or mental.  He just feels the need to unplug, slow down and enjoy life.  While it is not much to look at, this tattered Cramer’s Sphinx is the second that has visited his porch recently, the first being a much more beautiful individual in 2015, and allegedly the first local sighting in 50 years. There are only three sightings on BugGuide, so this must really be a North American rarity.  In order to be certain of this identification, Daniel has consulted both Julian Donahue and Bill Oehlke.

Cramer’s Sphinx

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination