Subject:  WTF? Crazy sea urchin looking bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Middle Tennessee
Date: 10/03/2019
Time: 05:32 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  So found this bug around 4 o’clock In the morning while taking the dog to the bathroom. Actually my dog found it. Idk if it was curled into a ball as a defense mechanism or if this is just what it looks like. I grew up here and have never seen anything remotely close to this. Other than those hairy black and red caterpillar ant things that bite the crap out you and hurt like well you know. Anyway I don’t think that is what this is cause I’ve never seen one of those this big before. As a matter of perspective it’s in a normal size pickle jar so you can see it’s roughly the size of a ping pong ball or so. Any ideas?
How you want your letter signed:  SimplySimon

Giant Leopard Moth Caterpillar

Dear SimplySimon,
This is a Woolly Bear, the caterpillar of a Tiger Moth in the subfamily Arctiinae.  We are relatively confident it is a Giant Leopard Moth Caterpillar,
Hypercompe scribonia, which is pictured on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “Late instar caterpillar mostly black with tufts of stiff black hairs of equal length radiating around body. Rolls up head to tail when disturbed. When curled, red intersegmental rings visible between the hairs.”  We have numerous images on our site of the adult Giant Leopard Moth, but not many of the caterpillars so your submission is a welcome addition to our archives.

Subject:  Stained glass wings
Geographic location of the bug:  Ellicott City, Maryland
Date: 10/04/2019
Time: 08:20 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Shortly after replacing our aluminum siding and roofing last month (September)  I noticed this insect sunning itself on the third story window ledge.  Can you please help identify it?  Thanks!
How you want your letter signed:  Dee

Picture Winged Fly

Dear Dee,
This Fly is
Delphinia picta, one of the Picture Winged Flies in the family Ulidiidae.

Subject:  Shiny Blue/Green fly
Geographic location of the bug:  Raleigh, NC
Date: 09/30/2019
Time: 05:31 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I saw this shiny bug on my neighbors fence and was curious about what it was because I had never seen one around here. The season is fall but it is still pretty hot and humid and I saw the bug in the late afternoon when it was just about to get dark.   Thanks in advance.
How you want your letter signed:  ADG

Cuckoo Wasp

Dear ADG,
This is not a fly.  It is a Cuckoo Wasp in the family Chrysididae.  According to BugGuide:  “The name ‘cuckoo wasp’ refers to the fact that these wasps lay eggs in the nests of unsuspecting hosts.”

Subject:  Wheel Bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Rutherford County, Middle Tennessee
Date: 10/02/2019
Time: 08:41 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This year marks my first signing of a living wheel bug, which is very exciting!! Unfortunately, I’ve also found more dead wheel bugs than I’ve seen in my entire life. Do you know if they naturally die after mating/laying eggs or if perhaps the unusual heat is getting them? I’ve been finding them upside down on sidewalks, so I figure they could be overheating there.
How you want your letter signed:  Josie

Wheel Bug

Dear Josie,
Thanks for sending in your image of a Wheel Bug.  Wheel Bugs only survive for one season, and most are probably killed by the first major frost of the year.  We don’t know why you are finding so many dead Wheel Bugs at this time.  We do not believe the heat is a factor.

Subject:  Luna Moth Caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Eagle River, Wisconsin
Date: 10/01/2019
Time: 10:19 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  We found this caterpillar on a nearby wooded pathway yesterday, and didn’t know what it was or where it was going–end of September can usher in very cold temperatures here.  So, at home we identified it as a Luna Moth Caterpillar.  We want to properly release it back into the wild.  It would be lovely to have seen it develop into the moth, but we don’t feel confident that we can keep it healthy.  Will it over-winter here in the North?  or Will it still be able to mate yet this autumn?  It was found under a soft Maple tree quite close to a lake and alder bushes near the lake and surrounding wetland.  I was even wondering if it could drown?  Thank you for information so that we can release it soon and get it on its way to the right environment.
How you want your letter signed:  The Rasmussens

Polyphemus Caterpillar

Dear Rasmussens,
Luna Moth Caterpillars and Polyphemus Moth Caterpillars can be difficult to distinguish from one another.  We believe your caterpillar is a Polyphemus Caterpillar.  The identifying feature is a pale yellow band that runs through the spiracles or breathing holes on the Polyphemus Caterpillar.  It is described on BugGuide as:  “Larva: body large, bright green, with red and silvery spots below setae, and oblique yellow lines running through spiracles on abdomen; diagonal streak of black and silver on ninth abdominal segment; head and true legs brown; base of primary setae red, subdorsal and lateral setae have silver shading below; end of prolegs with yellow ring, and tipped in black.”  At this time of year in your location, we speculate this individual is preparing to pupate and it will overwinter in the cocoon.  Caterpillars are not aquatic.  They can drown.

Dear Daniel:?? Thank you for the information.?? It is nice to know what it is– Polyphemus, not Luna, and that it will overwinter.?? It started spinning yesterday between two leaves in the leaf litter at the bottom of the container, currently in our garage.?? So now, we will have to decide the next step:?? possibly to get info on overwintering it in our refrigerator with a constant temperature or it will be subjected to?? subzero temperatures for much of our Northern Wisconsin winter.?? If you had thoughts and time on this, don’t hesitate to drop a line.?? We appreciate and feel fortunate to have had your communication.?? Much of the information we were finding is not specific in details or confusing.???? –Patty & Eric Rasmussen

Dear Patty and Eric,
We do not raise caterpillars, but in captivity, one needs to be cognizant of temperature and humidity.  Too warm and the moth will emerge prematurely.  Too damp or too dry it might not survive.  We would recommend keeping it outdoors in a protected location where it will benefit from precipitation, but not get too wet.

Subject:  Never Before Seen Bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Sylmar, Ca
Date: 09/30/2019
Time: 02:44 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  After coming home from work around 6:30 p.m. I saw this interesting specimen. I thought it was a young grasshopper but it doesn’t quite match the photos I have seen online. From my perspective it looked like a cross between a walking stick and a grasshopper. I would greatly appreciate an identification.
How you want your letter signed:  Most curious

Chaparral Monkey Grasshopper

Dear Most Curious,
This is definitely a Grasshopper, and we believe, based on its silhouette, that it is a Chaparral Monkey Grasshopper,
Morsea californica, which is pictured on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide, the range is “mountains of southern California (south of Mojave Desert and Central Valley).”