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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  NYC Exotic or Neighbor’s Luggage Jumper from….?
Geographic location of the bug:  Lower Manhattan, New York City
Date: 07/13/2018
Time: 08:07 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi!
Season: July/Summer
Location: NYC
This is the best shot I could get — I don’t have a great shot of the head area but you can see part (the “bugged” out eyes) and the coloring in brown on the body and green on the wings.
Thanks for running this site and fielding questions like mine.
How you want your letter signed:  Downtown Prof


Dear Downtown Prof,
This is an Annual Cicada, an insect that is sometimes called a Dog Day Harvestfly because they are most numerous during the Dog Days of Summer and they look like a giant Fly.  It would not be unusual to find Cicadas in Manhattan as the lifetime of an Annual Cicada nymph is spent underground drawing nutrients from the roots of trees, shrubs and other plants, and even Manhattan has street trees and parks.  When it nears maturity, the Cicada nymph digs to the surfaces, molts for the last time and emerges as a winged adult Cicada.  Cicadas are full of nutrients and even fat, and they are a valuable source of food for wildlife, and with the current trend in entomophagy, Cicadas are even relished by humans, especially when Periodical Cicadas appear after 17 years underground.  Perhaps the Annual Cicadas most fascinating predator is the Cicada Killer, a large wasp that paralyzes the Cicada and buries it where it will feed the young of the Cicada Killer.  Adult Cicada Killers are vegans that take nectar from flowers, and their sole meal as a larva is a paralyzed Cicada.  Perhaps you will be lucky enough to witness a Cicada Killer with its prey in Manhattan

Dear Daniel,
Thanks so much! I used to live in Morningside Hts…(Columbia U) …much greener up there. But, I live off a private University park at NYU and I bet that’s why I got the visitor. And following your insight about importance to wild life, a pigeon was stalking the cicada from the terrace next door.
You must get some great stories (or tedious ones like mine!).
Great site!

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Caterpillar poisened little girl. URGENT HELP PLEASE!!
Geographic location of the bug:  Manguzi, Kwa Zulu Natak, South Africa
Date: 07/09/2018
Time: 05:49 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  one of the little children in our village has made contact with this hairy large and colourful caterpillar. She’s in ICU at a local rural clinic but we urgently need to identify and then get the correct treatment. I can only email the picture, not that computer clever to attach it here but I’ll try, Can you please send me an email address and i’ll send it on?
How you want your letter signed:  Debbie

Lappet Moth Caterpillar

Dear Debbie,
This is a Lappet Moth Caterpillar in the family Lasiocampidae, and we verified that observation on iSpot.  We have another posting on our site of this Lappet Moth Caterpillar and we provided a link to iSpot that identified it as the Toothed Cream Spot Eggar,
Catalebeda cuneilinea, but we were never able to find additional images to support that identification.  The original link we provided is now broken, and we still cannot verify that species identity.  We located a Zoological Bulletin article that discusses urticating or stinging hairs in a Spanish Lappet Moth species, Streblote panda, and if that characteristic is present in one member of the family, it may be shared by other family members.  That article states:  “The caterpillar of S. panda is known for its urticating properties. The urticating apparatus has not been studied in detail so far; Calvo & Molina (2008) simply mention that urticating retractable organs develop beginning from the second instar and appear as mere cuticle differentia- tions in the first instar. In the present study, details of the morphological structures responsible for the urticating properties are provided for the first time.”  Krishna Mohan Photography has this to say about a different Lappet Moth caterpillar species:  “Almost all stages these caterpillar are poisonous to human beings. Their hair results in urticarial rashes. When your skin brushes against these caterpillars, the spines break off, releasing an irritating fluid that produces an immediate stinging, burning sensation. The numbness and swelling that follow may extend to your whole arm or leg in severe cases. Red blotches may persist for a couple of days, accompanied by a weeping rash. Associated lymph nodes may swell and be tender for 12 to 24 hours. Systemic reactions may include nausea and vomiting.If one affects you, treat the symptoms. To remove any spines still in the skin, gently stick a piece of adhesive tape to the site and then pull it away. Applying cold compresses can lessen the pain and swelling. Pain medications and topical corticosteroid creams may help. If the symptoms include systemic reactions consult medical help.”  Though it is a different species, that information might help with your case.  We have another Lappet Moth Caterpillar in our archives and we linked to this iSpot posting that states:  ” Urticating moth caterpillar causing skin and respiratory problems in cattle” and “Causes skin and respiratory illness in cattle, one of the reasons for burning the heathland. Urticating setae identified by specialist.”  We hope that information helps and that the “poisoned” girl soon recovers.

Dear Daniel,
I cannot thank you enough for your prompt, informative and so very reassuring reply.  We got it through to the doctors just in time.
Things work very differently here in rural Africa and the “doctors” were talking about amputating one leg below the knee!  It was shocking and frightening,  but with your assistance she’s safely making a slow recovery – without any surgery.
Believe me, it was a desperate situation and without any knowledge we were supposed to rely on their opinion. Little Palilisa has got a lot to thank you for.  Really.
Many many thanks again. You made a HUGE difference!

Hi Debbie,
Thanks so much for writing back with your progress report.  Sitting in our office in front of the computer, we seriously doubt we ever have much impact in the world, especially since our editorial staff hasn’t any true qualifications in the world of entomology or medicine.  We are humbled that we had a positive impact on Palilisa’s life.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  What the hell is it??
Geographic location of the bug:  Bassenthwaite Cumbria England
Date: 07/01/2018
Time: 12:20 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Please help me with what the hell this is!!
How you want your letter signed:  Gail.

Giant Horse Fly

Dear Gail,
Congratulations on being chosen Bug of the Month for July 2018 with your query of this Giant Horse Fly, in the genus
Tabanus.    You are the third identification request we have received this week, and we quickly linked to a Huffington Post posting.  We cannot tell due to the camera angle if this is a male or female Giant Horse Fly.  Males in the genus have compound eyes that nearly touch one another while the eyes of the female have a space between them.  Only the female Giant Horse Fly will bite as the male does not feed on blood which is necessary for the female to lay viable eggs.  That blood generally comes from livestock including horses and cattle, but when livestock or other large mammals are not available, the opportunistic Horse Flies might bite humans, but try to remember after viewing the images on that Huffington Post article that most encounters between humans and Horse Flies do not end with bites.  The Gadfly that tormented Io in Greek mythology was most likely a Giant Horse Fly as Wikipedia confirms.  Long ago, the mythological Io was also the inspiration for the name of the lovely North American Io Moth as was consistent with the pattern set with 18th Century taxonomists like Linnaeus and Fabricius.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Ed Note: We knew that we were getting close to our 25,000th posting for a few months now, and we decided to check today, but we were caught by surprise to find out we were at 24,999.  We decided to make this one special, a little different from our usual identification requests, so we decided to post the images Daniel just shot of a pair of California Mantids at the porch light, and perhaps to wax philosophically about what we hope we are accomplishing by publishing our humble site, now beginning its 16th year as a unique website.

Female California Mantis on the porch light

For years we have been running images, generally late in the season, of California Mantids attracted to the porch light to catch insects.  Male Mantids that can fly are much more common than are flightless females that have a more difficult time reaching the light, so this female was something of an anomaly.  Later in the day, she was joined by a male California Mantis who was probably attracted by her pheromones.  We thought we would take this opportunity with this significant milestone of 25,000 postings to expound a bit on our philosophy of a healthy ecosystem in the garden.  Mature predators like these Mantids catch larger insects, and adult Mantids are much more visible in the garden, but the real significance of having predators is the number of smaller insects they consume while growing.  Young Mantids, barely a centimeter in length hatch in the spring, and they perform an incalculable benefit with the large numbers of tiny insects they eat while growing.  Having a healthy population of predators in your garden throughout the year will help control many insect pests without the use of pesticides.

A pair of California Mantids

Though we have numerous identification request awaiting our attention, we have decided to take the rest of the day off and let our 25,000th posting stand alone today.  We will return tomorrow and we will try to catch up on unanswered mail.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

January 12, 2017
From Our Facebook Fans Regarding Angry Reader #12

Jeff Lanterman
January 12 at 10:56am
Did he think that was funny? Sometimes I don’t understand people.

Sean Gaukroger
January 12 at 12:59pm
Huh? Today’s Sphinx moth brought to you by the letter “F”?

Lisa Phillips
January 12 at 2:54pm
Thank you for the identification & sorry this person is rude. I myself look forward to your posts. Keep up your fascinating work 🐛

Heather Christensen
January 12 at 3:49pm
We love your posts! I have not yet submitted any critters needing identification, but my son and I always keep our eye out. This guy is a clown, and definitely deserves the coveted “Nasty Reader” title. Keep up the great work, we love you guys. 🐌🐛🐜🐝🐞🕷🦂

An angry reader gives us the finger

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Gentle Readers,
The editorial staff from What’s That Bug? will be away from the office for the holidays.  We will not be responding to any identification requests until 2017, but we have postdated submissions to go live to our site daily in our absence.  Enjoy the holidays.

Update:  January 2, 2017
We have returned and we are trying to catch up on all the emails that arrived while we were away.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination