Large Ant-Like Beetle?
Location: Atlanta, GA
April 1, 2011 5:19 pm
Hello!
I found a large bug in my bathtub late last night. About an inch and a half long, six legs, long brown antennae coming to a point. Eyes appeared to be orangey. Small black head, small brown thorax (the same color as the legs and antennae), rather large oval black abdomen. (In the included photo, the angle of the tub seems to have played a trick; the bug was actually noticably larger than the paper clip.)
He (she?) was wingless, not shiny, and while he couldn’t climb the walls of the tub, he did manage to scurry vertically up an empty tp roll, with an impressive amount of hustle. No apparent weaponry… I couldn’t see pinchers or a stinger or even large mandibles.
We’re in Atlanta, Georgia. The weather has been temperate, but gray and rainy for the better part of a week. He may have come up the drain, because I don’t see another way he could have ended up in my bathtub!
Signature: Heather P.

False Bombadier Beetle

Dear Heather,
This little beauty is a False Bombardier Beetle in the genus
Galerita.  False Bombadier Beetles, like other Ground Beetles, are predatory hunters, but what distinguishes them is a unique defense mechanism.  The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America website (PNAS) has an paper entitled Defensive production of formic acid (80%) by a carabid beetle (Galerita lecontei).  The article notes:  “Formic acid is a potent irritant, deterrent to vertebrates and invertebrates alike, and it serves ants effectively in defense” and the False Bombardier Beetle actually ejects the formic acid as a spray.  As a side note, we realized that on many of our past postings, especially the oldest postings, we incorrectly spelled the name Bombardier as Bombadier, and we have taken the opportunity to correct our errors thanks to your letter.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

What bug is this?
Location: Metro, Sydney.
March 31, 2011 11:59 pm
Dear Bugman,
Can you please help identify what this bug is.
I live in metropolitan Sydney and I took a photo of this in my back yard. Its approximatly 1cm in length, shiny black with features that resemble a cicada, fly and a grasshopper. Can you help me know who my neighbour is. Thank you!
Signature: Damian

Ensign Wasp

Hi Damian,
This is an Ensign Wasp, and it really needs to be recognized as it performs a significant function.  Ensign Wasps parasitize the ootheca or egg cases of Cockroaches, though to the best of our knowledge, there have not been any studies on how effective Ensign Wasps are in controlling Cockroach populations.

big eaters

Unknown Walkingstick

big eaters
Location: Benguet, Philippines
April 1, 2011 7:29 am
Please help me identify these insects and let me know how best to control them. I believe they are responsible for the leaves (or the lack of). I just moved in to a house in Benguet, Philippines, which is about 1400m/5000ft above sea level. Current temp range is 55-74F (13-23C). I brought a lot of plants with me and noticed these insects in a tree on the other side of the fence. I’m afraid my plants are next.
Signature: G Lee

Walkingsticks

Dear G Lee,
This is some species of Walkingstick or Stick Insect, also known as a Phasmid.  Very few insects are indiscriminate feeders, and you probably do not need to worry about the plants you brought unless they are the same as the plants upon which the Phasmids are currently feeding.  We will try to identify this species, but our initial search did not provide any species name.  Perhaps our readership will be able to contribute to this identification.  The red wings on the larger individuals, presumably the females, are quite distinctive.

Walkingsticks

Hi Daniel and G Lee:
The photos appear to include a combination of adults (or perhaps sub-adults) and juveniles at various stages of development.  I am not certain but I believe they probably belong to the genus Orthomeria. They look quite similar to O. pandora, coincidentally the only species I could definitely place in the Philippines. Compare to the faded museum specimen at the far right in this image, or check out a selection of adult and juvenile images at PhasmaPhils (a site dedicated to Philippine Phasmids).  Most images of adults show prominent red eyes while juveniles have dark eyes, hence, I was wondering if the largest ones in the posted photos are actually fully developed adults. Unfortunately, the species appears to be quite variable in other aspects as well which makes it difficult to be confident, but I believe this is getting close. Regards.  Karl

Update April 8, 2011
Hi.  Thanks for your help.  Here’s another picture I took recently that shows the red-winged one on top of the other.  I thought you might be interested.
The other pic is just for kicks.

Mating Walkingsticks

Hi again G. Lee,
Thanks for the update and also for including the image of the mating pair of Walkingsticks.

Walkingsticks

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

digger be mating?
Location: Superior, Az.
March 31, 2011 10:55 pm
Here is a photo I took today (March 31, 2011) in Superior, Az.
To me this looks like a digger bee mating with or riding around on a carpenter bee. They were connected the entire time they flew around the flowers in my yard.
Sexual dimorphism? What do you think?
Signature: T. Stone

Mating Valley Carpenter Bees

Dear T. Stone,
We are positively thrilled to receive your photograph that documents mating Valley Carpenter Bees,
Xylocopa varipuncta.  The species does exhibit pronounced sexual dimorphism.  The larger black female bee has a much longer lifespan because she must provision the nest with pollen and nectar.  The smaller golden male is quite territorial and aggressive, though he is incapable of stinging.  Females sting reluctantly.  Just yesterday, while working in the garden, we observed a male Valley Carpenter Bee defending his territory near the blossoming sweet peas.  The female Valley Carpenter Bees visit the sweet peas, stealing the nectar, an action described by BugGuide:  “Due to their large size, carpenter bees cannot enter tubelike blossoms such as sage, so they slit the base of corolla, a practice known as ‘stealing the nectar’ (without pollinating the flower). (UC, Davis)”  BugGuide also notes:  “Their eggs are the largest of all insect eggs. The Valley carpenter bee egg can be 15mm long. (UC, Davis)”

Update: April 2, 2011
Since Spring is in the air, we thought we would post this little excerpt from Daniel’s book, The Curious World of Bugs:  “One can’t help but be amused at the certain awkwardness that parents might encounter when using the proverbial bees to explain the facts of life to youngsters.  Most female honeybees are sterile workers that do not mate, the male drones are lazy freeloaders whose sole purpose is to fertilize the queen, and the queen loses her virginity to multiple partners in a short period of time in an insect orgy.  These are hardly the values that responsible parents would want to teach to their impressionable children.”
Ed. Note:  It should be noted that the above description is for the domestic Honey Bee.  Female Valley Carpenter Bees do not need to take multiple mates.  A single insemination is sufficient for her to produce her significantly smaller brood.


Question about Carpenter Bee nests
Male and female  valley carpenter bees
December 10, 2011 1:47 am
I live in highland park, CA.  And after very high winds here recently our tree in the backyard lost some large branches.  I started sawing the branches manually when I heard a distant buzzing sound and when I looked at the other end of the branch about a dozen male and female of these
bees had burrowed into this branch.  I’m wondering if their presence in the tree is killing the tree which helps us all breathe.   I dont want to harm them in any way. How can I gently have them depart the tree so that they may make their home elsewhere? Thank you kindly
Signature: Rey

Greetings Rey,
Our offices are in nearby Mt. Washington.  While we are not debating what you saw, we will challenge your interpretation of what you saw.  Valley Carpenter Bees are solitary bees.  After mating, the female excavates a tunnel in usually dead or dying wood, and then proceeds to construct a number of nursery chambers that each houses a solitary larva.  What you encountered is most likely a recently metamorphosed brood or broods that were uncovered when the tree was damaged.  These bees are not interested in returning to any nest, though a mated female may construct a new nest in the same tree.  Any Valley Carpenter Bee colony would have to be very extensive to kill a tree, however, weakened branches may snap in another wind storm if there is a significant amount of nest excavation.

Update:  March 16, 2014
We learned today that the Valley Carpenter Bee has the largest of all insect eggs that we know about.  According to BugGuide:  “18-26 mm (Largest bees in CA)  Their eggs are the largest of all insect eggs. The Valley carpenter bee egg can be 15mm long. (UC, Davis)”

Bug with claws and many legs
Location: Tarpon Springs, FL
April 1, 2011 12:49 am
Hello,
I live in Tarpon Springs and we just had a huge rain storm today. Well, when I left the house to go to the store, I found this huge crab like bug sitting on the driveway. It was maybe about 3 inches long, had claws and I noticed many legs when I flipped it over with my foot. Can you please identify this curious looking creature?
Signature: Joey Tooze

Crayfish

Hi Joey,
This freshwater crustacean is commonly called a Crayfish, though it has many other common names, some quite localized in their use, including Crawfish, Crawdad and Clawfish.  We are amused at the name you used to title your photographs and we think that Clawbug is probably a name that is used by some people when talking about the Crayfish.

Thank you!!!  Btw, Awesome site! 🙂

pond larva
Location: Southern Ontario, Canada
March 31, 2011 7:30 pm
We have found a larva from our pond. It was in the outflow of the pond. The pond is just below freezing. The larca is a little more than 1 inch in length. It is segmented, white with black banding at the segments. It comes to the surface for air. Hopefully the attached pictures will help identify it. The penny is for size comparrison.
Signature: John

Horse Fly Larva

Hi John,
This is the larva of a Horse Fly.  These aquatic larvae are predatory and they feed upon small pond creatures.