Currently viewing the category: "Horntails, Wood Wasps and Sawflies"

Subject:  Bug Found in trunk of dead pine tree
Geographic location of the bug:  State of Connecticut
Date: 06/09/2021
Time: 12:33 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Trying to identify bug that was burrowing in the lower trunk of a dead pine tree. The photos were taken last week.
How you want your letter signed:  ?

White Horned Horntail

This is a species of Wood Wasp known as a White Horned Horntail, Uroceros albicornus, which we confirmed on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “hosts include fir, larch, spruce, pine, Douglas-fir, hemlock, and western red cedar.

Damage caused by White Horned Horntails

Thank you so much for getting back to me!
Michael Taylor

Subject:  Strange caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Eastern Virginia
Date: 06/14/2020
Time: 07:55 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello! I spotted a strange caterpillar at Weyanoke Bird and Wildlife Sanctuary in Norfolk,and pointed it out to my father. I got my phone out and snapped a few pictures of it. I guess my phone hit one of the branches and about 3 of them put their head back and exposed their chest that I saw was covered in spikes (They may have been sharp legs, but I couldn’t tell). They stayed like that for a bit until I backed away. I tried to find them on google, and I looked on a few bug Identification websites, but I saw none that looked like it. I was wondering if you knew what it was!
How you want your letter signed:  Lydia Simon,age 13

Red Headed Pine Sawfly Larva

Dear Lydia,
Though they look very much like caterpillars, these are actually Red-Headed Pine Sawfly larvae,
Neodiprion lecontei.  Here is a BugGuide image for comparison.  Sawflies are non-stinging relatives of bees and wasps.  When larvae are numerous, they may defoliate trees.  According to Featured Creatures:  “After mating, female sawflies lay eggs in slits sawed in pine needles. Small larvae feed on outer needle tissues; larger larvae consume entire needles. Most species prefer older foliage, but all foliage is susceptible at end of growing season. Larval colonies may migrate from one tree to another, especially upon complete defoliation of the host tree or high feeding competition.”

Red Headed Pine Sawfly Larvae

Subject:  Bright Orange Caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Goshen, New Hampshire
Date: 08/23/2019
Time: 09:00 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello! I’ve been trying to figure out what this little guy might be, but I haven’t found anything. It’s bright orange with a single black stripe down the back. The head is white and has many small white dots down the body. I know you don’t respond to all submissions, so thank you if you read mine.
How you want your letter signed:  Haley

Elm Sawfly Larva

Hi Haley,
While this might look like a Caterpillar, it is actually an Elm Sawfly larva. According to the University of Wisconsin Madison Master Gardener Program site, the “Elm Sawfly,
Cimbex americana, is a native species which feeds preferentially on elm and willow, but sometimes attacks maple, cottonwood, poplar, birch and other trees. This is one of the largest species of sawfly in North America with full-grown larvae ranging from 1½-2 inches long. The white, light gray, yellow or light green (and occasionally pink) larvae with a rough, pebbly texture have a black stripe running down the top of the body with a row of black dots (spiracles) on each side. They often curl up into a circle when not feeding on the leaves.”

Subject:  Is this some type of very large wasp or hornet? Please help!
Geographic location of the bug:  St. Paul, Minnesota
Date: 08/13/2019
Time: 03:27 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello!
This very large wasp/hornet-looking insect was on a tree in my front yard. It was at least 2 inches long, with a very thick/large stinger. The striping was almost an orange on it’s abdomen. Very curious what this is!
Thank you in advance
How you want your letter signed:  Sure

Pigeon Horntail

I think I just figured out what it is!
I believe it’s a Pigeon Horntail female. Apparently they lay eggs to feed on dying trees (which the tree it was on has died…).

Hi Matt,
You are correct.  This is an ovipositing Pigeon Horntail.

Subject:  Caterpillar Identification
Geographic location of the bug:  North Central Pennsylvani
Date: 08/19/2019
Time: 05:44 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Just want identification of these caterpillars.
How you want your letter signed:  Angelo V

Dogwood Sawfly Larvae

Dear Angelo,
This was a quick identification for us because we encountered an image of Dogwood Sawfly larvae while trying to identify this Introduced Pine Sawfly larva, an identification that took us considerable time. Sawflies are non-stinging relatives of Wasps and Bees that have larvae that are frequently mistaken for caterpillars.  According to BugGuide:  “Young larvae are covered with a powdery white waxy coating. Mature larvae are yellow beneath with black spots or cross-stripes above.”  It is great that your image depicts both waxy coated individuals and those without the coating.

Subject:  Caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  NW corner Connecticut
Date: 08/19/2019
Time: 07:15 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Looking for an ID. Consulted the Exec Director of Audubon here in CT and he did not know.
How you want your letter signed:  Lori Welles

Introduced Pine Sawfly Larva

Dear Lori,
We thought this was going to be an easy identification, but more than an hour later, we can state unequivocally that we were way wrong.  Our mistake began by not looking at your image that closely, and thinking we were trying to identify one of the Hooded Owlet Caterpillars in the genus
Cuculia, but after ponderously searching BugGuide, we realized we were wrong.  Our search next took us to The Moth Photographers Group where the Zebra Caterpillar looks similar, but not the same, and the Scribbled Sallow Moth Caterpillar pictured on The Moth Photographers Group and the Toadflax Brocade Moth Caterpillar, also pictured on The Moth Photographers Group also looked similar but not the same.  The solid black head on your individual and the round yellow lateral spots were quite distinctive and not found on any caterpillars we could locate.  Something about the head did not seem right, so we decided to count prolegs, and there appear to be seven pairs, which caused us to think this must be a Sawfly larva.  According to ThoughtCo: “Caterpillars may have up to five pairs of abdominal prolegs (tiny limbs) but never have more than five pairs. Sawfly larvae will have six or more pairs of abdominal prolegs.”   Once we searched for Sawfly larvae, we came to Wildlife Insight where we found images that match your individual that are identified as Diprion similis.  Armed with that information, we returned to BugGuide and located matching images of the Introduced Pine Sawfly larva, but the individual in your image does not appear to be eating pine.  Upon what plant did you find it?  According to BugGuide:  “hosts: pines (Pinus); 5-needled pines (Subg. Strobus) are preferred, but others may be infested as well.”  This BugGuide image contains the information:  “This one was on a poplar plant, and the other was eating oak leaves.”  Thank you for submitting this challenging identification request.

This was feeding on Cosmos. Glad it was a challenge as many friends including the Exec director of Audubon here in CT. could not ID.
Welles, The Ballyhack