Cicada Killer…Killing a cicada!
Location: Morningside Park, Manhattan, New York
August 14, 2011 4:56 pm
I guess this wasp must be one of those Cicada Killers, judging by the fact that it is clearly killing this cicada! I saw this thing flying at me across a busy intersection near Morningside Park. The two bugs together made quite a large mass of buzzing insect, and at first I couldn’t figure out what it was, and just stepped back in fear of getting stung. Then I realized it was this wasp carrying its prey through the air. It landed on a nearby lamppost and I was able to snap a few shots, of which one came out decently. I hope you like it!
Signature: Jenny Jo

Cicada Killer preys upon Cicada

Hi Jenny Jo,
Though we have no shortage of Cicada Killers preying upon Cicadas on our site, what makes your letter so intriguing to us is your concise eye witness account as well as your location.  It is wonderful to know that both Cicada Killers and Cicadas can be found in Manhattan.  Your description of the Cicada Killer and its freight flying through the air and landing on a lamp post is critical to understanding the Cicada Killers instincts.  It is highly likely that the load weighs more than the carrier, and getting airborne from the ground is probably very difficult if not highly unlikely.  We have read that Cicada Killers climb up a tree or pole so that they do not have to take off from the ground, adding needed altitude to the flight.  It expends considerably less energy that way.  The fact that the Cicada Killer that you witnessed chose a lamp post as a landing field ensured that it would not have to search for a structure to climb while on the ground on a busy street in Manhattan, ensuring its survival until it reaches the site of its underground nest.  Thanks so much for submitting a photo to our site that did not require an identification.  As an aside, Annual Cicadas in the genus
Tibicen, especially the northern species Tibicen canicularis, is frequently called the Dogday Harvestfly.  See BugGuide for verification.

Thanks for the note!  The wasp landed near the base of the lamp post
an did, indeed, climb upward after landing.  I didn’t have time to
stick around until she took off, though.  I love how she is able to
hang onto the texture of the paint with only one foot.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Like our good friend Susan Lutz of Eat Sunday Dinner, we find ways to procrastinate.  Susan now procrastinates by cooking and developing new recipes, like her Procrastination Spaghetti Sauce, and though we have other commitments, we frequently defer them by turning to all the marvelous email requests that are sent to What’s That Bug?  We are supposed to be writing a letter of recommendation for Elizabeth who is applying for a Fulbright Scholar Award, and as the deadline looms upon us, all of the writing to date has been in our mind.  We turned to an old computer for some historical records involving Elizabeth, and we realized that a marvelous photo taken by Joshua Stanley and Marnia Johnston of the Tarantula Hawk on Milkweedfrom our archives was there in its high resolution form.  The photo predates both the acquisition of our new office computer and the site migration we underwent several years ago.  From the current computer and our current WTB? access, only a thumbnail version of this photo was available, and we are now thrilled to republish the image in a higher resolution form.  Just click on the photo to see an enlarged version.  You can do this with all of the photos that were posted after our site migration.

Tarantula Hawk and Milkweed Longhorn on Milkweed

The reason we are especially interested in having a larger resolution version of this photo available is that we have become very interested in the complex ecosystem surrounding milkweed, and we have recently created a Milkweed Meadow tag.  We want to propose a slide presentation and talk to the Theodore Payne Foundation on the insects associated with milkweed, with a concentration of Southern California species that depend upon Esclapias eriocarpa,  Indian Milkweed, and other native Milkweeds that can be purchased at the TPF nursery.  To bring our procrastination full circle, that is Elizabeth weeding recently in Elyria Canyon Park.

Elizabeth Weeds in the Elyria Canyon Park Milkweed Meadow


Ant-Wasp-Fly attacking and Killing spider!
Location: Pierrefeu, Alpes-Maritimes, France
August 14, 2011 9:25 am
Hello Bugman/woman,
I witnessed this brutal attack and wondered if you could identify both creatures.
The ”Ant-Wasp-Fly” insisted 3 times to chase the spider up a tree and knock it off and eventually managed to put the spider on its back and killed it.
Signature: brutal attack

do you have a higher resolution image?

Spider Wasp Paralyzes Spider

This was a screen shot of a 720p video (iPhone 4) of the attack. Is there any way I could ‘upload’ that to you?

Though we are hoping for a higher resolution image, we are nonetheless posting this great documentation of a Spider Wasp in the family Pompilidae stinging and paralyzing what appears to be a Wolf Spider.  The Spider Wasp does not eat the Spider it has preyed upon.  The Spider will provide food for a larval wasp and the female Spider Wasp will provision her nest with paralyzed Spiders so that her brood will have a supply of fresh meat.  Dead spiders would dry out, but the paralyzed spider is eaten alive, with the vital organs being eaten last.  Though the quality of this image is poor, we believe we have identified the wasp Arachnospila anceps based on a photo on the Commanster Pompilidae page.  That identification is further supported by the images posted on the Nature Conservation Imaging web page, but it should be noted that this black and red coloration pattern is not rare in Spider Wasps, and the individual in your photo may be another species.  We would still love a higher resolution image if one is available.

PS: I also saw this very similar insect a day later in the same area (see attachment). Maybe it is the same one as in the video link I sent..?

Spider Wasp

Hi again Raphael,
Spider Wasps in the family Pompilidae take nectar as adults as opposed to feeding as predators.  This individual does look very much like the same species in the previously published image.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Large Green Irridescent Beetle-looking bug
Location: San Fernando Valley CA
August 14, 2011 8:37 am
Hi ~ I recently moved to southern California (Winnetka CA), and these bugs are flying all over the place for the last few months (summer). I was terrified at first but someone told me they aren’t harmful. They are actually quite beautiful and they fly really slowly at times and you can catch them! I found this one dead on my driveway. What is it?
Signature: Best regards, Annette


Hi Annette,
Though it looks and sounds like a large bee while flying, you are correct that the Green Fruit Beetle,
Cotinis mutabilis, is perfectly harmless, though they will eat your backyard fruit.  If you have large numbers of them, you must have a nearby food source for either the adults of the larvae.  Adults feed on peaches, figs and other summer fruits, and we love the common name Figeater.  Larvae are found in compost piles and they are called Crawlybacks


Daniel ~ Thank you so much!!
My neighbor has a LOT of fruit trees in his back yard. And he just brought over a pile of FIGS the other day J That explains it.
So glad I finally know what they are called.
Thanks again and have a wonderful week!

Location:  Arizona
August 14, 2011
Thank you sooo much for your reply. I did look on the BugGuide but being a novice at bugs did not find it. However, I still feel like spraying the air.
I did not see a picture of a HorseLubber Grasshopper anywhere, so I thought you might appreciate this. Use it or not as you see fit.
Thanks again.

Horse Lubber

Hi again K,
WE are happy we could assist with the Kissing Bug ID.  We do have images of Horse Lubber Grasshoppers, however, we haven’t received a new image in several years and the reports we have are buried in our archives, but our search engine brings them up quickly.

Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
August 13, 2011 5:03 pm
Ok I live in fairbanks Alaska it’s almost fall/our winter so you don’t really see all that many bugs around. But we found this guy he’s about 3in long brown with yellow spots and a spine tail thing and his head was the little thing.
Signature: ~Tif

Bedstraw Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Hi Tif,
Your caterpillar is a Hornworm, the common name given to the caterpillars of the Hawkmoths or Sphinx Moths in the family Sphingidae.  Hornworm is a reference to the caudal horn which most all members of the family possess.  When we are trying to identify New World Sphingiids, we generally turn to the easily searchable Sphingidae of the Americas Website where you can search by country and state.  There are only five species reported in Alaska, which makes the search quite simple.  This is the Bedstraw Hawkmoth Caterpillar,
Hyles gallii, and the Sphingidae of the Americas site indicates:  “Hyles gallii ranges coast to coast in Canada (into the Yukon) and southward along the Rocky Mountains into Mexico. It is also widely distributed throughout Europe and Asia.”  One might think that with only five species of Sphinx Moths in Alaska, identification of this caterpillar would be easy, but the identification is complicated by the variations in color among caterpillars, including a green variation and a black morph.  You can see a photo of the adult Bedstraw Hawkmoth from our archives.