What is this thing?
Location: Bishop, California
December 11, 2010 8:06 pm
I saw a group of these on a small weed just south of Bishop California in eastern California on Route 395. I haven’t been able to identify it through any books or online resources that I’ve found.
Signature: Donald

Iron Cross Blister Beetle

Dear Donald,
This unusual beetle is an Iron Cross Blister Beetle in the genus
Tegrodera.  Many years ago when we received our first image of one of these incredibly colored beetles, we were awe struck by its beauty.  That initial impression has never faded.  Blister Beetles should be handled with care as they exude a compound known as cantharidin that causes blistering of the skin.  Blister Beetles have very complex life cycles and you can read about them in our archive and on BugGuide.

Iron Cross Blister Beetle

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

snow bugs
Dec 10, 2010
December 10, 2010 11:37 am
I really tried to identify the 3 bugs on the snow I sent 12/1/10. At least I went thru your website and bugguide… I’m thinking you haven’t had much luck either. The one looks like a mini cranefly to me and I thought the other 2 were springtails, but they were solitary critters, and they are all wrong anyway! Any website suggestions I might peruse further? I can’t believe how addicted to bugs I’ve become since I found your website looking for an aquatic larvae! Never found the exact one, but I’m pretty sure it was some kind of beetle. Love your site and thanks for doing so much so well.
Signature: Cathy Schabloski

I wouldn’t be nekkid out here…
Location: Tonasket WA, near Canada
December 1, 2010 4:43 pm
Amazing what is out on the snow, and so very tiny and frail! I found 3 different kinds today. It’s about 32F now, and last week it was -12F. I think this one is a type of springtail, but had no luck with the other 2. I left them for you to crop as I feared loss of whatever resolution there is.
Signature: Cathy

Snow Scorpionfly

If I had wings, I’d fly south
Location: Tonasket WA near Canada
December 1, 2010 5:02 pm
Sorry, couldn’t find her, she’s about 2mm long. Why do I think she’s a she? I’ts 32F here and was -12F last week. Do I have no more sense than a bug? Actually, we both must love it here! And I know if this bug knew about your site it would love it as much as I do and be in awe of all you do. Thank you everyone that helps.
Signature: Cathy

Fungus Gnat

ovipositer? snow?
Location: Tonasket WA near Canada
December 1, 2010 5:21 pm
I’m just guessing here, maybe a type of springtail? only 2mm or so. Who would believe something this small at 32F and last week it was -12F. Where do the eggs/larvae/babies hang out until it gets warm(!) enough to come out and play? I saw 3 differnt kinds today. I am constantly amazed, both at the world around me and what y’all do out of the goodness of your hearts and the love of bugs.
Signature: Cathy

Snow Scorpionfly in the genus Bores

Dear Cathy,
We apologize profusely.  We wrote you back the day after you sent the three snow insects and we indicated we would research you insects and post them.  We forgot.  It is the end of the semester and work is piling up and we failed to deliver.  We can tell you that none of your insects are Springtails, be we still need to research them.  The one you believe to be a Crane Fly is some species of fly, and we believe it may be a Gnat.   At least we have posted your photos and as we research, we would gladly welcome any input our readership may provide.  You might want to post a comment to the posting and you will be notified in the future if any experts are able to provide any information.

Update and Correction: Snow Scorpionfly perhaps
Hi again Cathy,
We believe the insect with the ovipositor may be a Snow Scorpionfly in the genus
Boreus.  You can check the Crane Flies of Pennsylvania website to compare the image of a female posted there.  BugGuide also has information on the Snow Scorpionflies in the genus Boreus including this description:  “Adults dark-colored with an elongated rostrum (“beak”), long antennae, vestigial wings, and long hind legs adapted to jumping; female has a straight ovipositor about the same length as the rostrum, and tapering to a point; males have a blunt rounded abdominal tip“.

Chen Young provides identifications
December 12, 2010
Good morning Daniel,
The two wingless images are not crane flies instead, they are Snow Scorpionflies in the genus Boreus, family Boreidae and order Mecoptera   I provided some short comparison in the crane fly website here for your informaiton   http://iz.carnegiemnh.org/cranefly/limoniinae.htm#Chionea
The fly with wings is a Fungus Gnat in the family Mycetophillidae.
Have a happy and safe holiday season.

December 12, 2010
I had just come to the same conclusion about the scorpionflies, thanks to your recommended website. I wish I had had my camera today because I got to see the forked projections on the backside of the male, they can raise and fold them back down flat, and he has a sort of single “Mercury wing” coming off the back of his head. Thank you and Chen so much for your help.  Daniel, you certainly don’t need to apologize to me for being busy and forgetting a few things! Thank you again.

Update:  Fungus Gnats can survive subzero conditions.
February 10, 2011
fungus gnat
February 10, 2011 7:58 pm
On 12/1/10 I asked you to identify what turned out to be a fungus gnat and male and female scorpion fly. I looked up the scorpionfly fly right away, probably because of the name… and found the heat of your hand can kill them! Well, I just looked up fungus gnat, and I don’t know if the one I read about is my exactr same one, but this tiny delicate thing can go to -60 and the abdomen freezes, but not the head! It will survive to -100. Here’s the website,http://alaskareport.com/news39/x71236_fungus_gnats.htm I’ve always liked bugs, but you and all your contributors have given me a new fascination for all of it! Thank you so very much.“
Signature: Cathy Schabloski

Thanks for the link and information Cathy.  This is fascinating.

Rasta Bug
Location: Mozambique
December 10, 2010 2:19 am
Hello! Friend of mine in Mozambique found this interesting bug in Mozambique. Not sure of location, but did find a similar picture from Kew Gardens expedition, and they have not identified it. Really need to know if this critter is rare or common? And of course what it is!!
Signature: any way ?

Picasso Bug

Dear any way,
Sadly, we haven’t the time to research this right now, but we are posting the photo.  We believe this is a Stink Bug in the family Pentatomidae.  The markings are truly awesome.  Alas, we must get ready to go to work now.

Hi Daniel and any way:
Picasso Bug and Zulu Hud Bug are the two common names I found for this guy.  It’s a Shield-backed Bug (Scutelleridae), probably Sphaerocoris annulus, but there could be similar species. I couldn’t find out much about it other than it appears to be quite widely dispersed – I found photos from South Africa, Ethiopia and Cameroon.  What an amazing creature! It’s almost hard to believe that it’s real, but nothing surprises me anymore. Regards.  Karl

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Location: Hawthorne, California
December 10, 2010 12:25 am
A new wasp in the back yard yesterday. It’s small, the flower it was feeding on is cilantro. Can you help?
Signature: Thanks, Anna

Potter Wasp

Dear Anna,
The genus
Ancistrocerus is part of the Potter Wasp subfamily Eumeninae, and we are in total agreement with you up until that point.  Your specimen does look very much like Ancistrocerus tuberculocephalus which is represented on BugGuide with submissions from Los Angeles, but it also resembles the images of a member of the genus Dolichodynerus  from San Diego that are posted on BugGuide.  Alas, we haven’t the necessary skill to confirm the genus or species for certain, but we are quite confident that you have a Potter Wasp in the subfamily Eumeninae.  You can read more about the fascinating Potter Wasps on BugGuide.  Thanks so much for sending us the images.  We are pleased to see that your garden is attracting other beneficial pollinating insects and we hope you continue to send us documentation of the Syrphid Flies and other new species you encounter.  Allowing plants like cilantro and parsley to flower is a positive contribution to the balanced ecosystem that exists in a pesticide free and natural (and often unruly) garden because those are the plants that attract beneficial insects.  We have decided to feature your letter and photos because we hope that more gardeners will approach the endeavor with a more holistic approach and shun the carefully manicured gardens that might look pretty and perfect, but are actually sterile environments for native creatures.

Potter Wasp

Hi Daniel,
Thanks very much for the words of praise.  Last year we decided to let the lawn die in back, and this spring/summer we had all of the sod removed and replaced it with gravel paths and planting beds for native species (mostly grown from seed).  It’s surpassed my wildest hopes.  We’ve had so many wonderful “new” birds and insects visiting our little patch of heaven.  I did retain the vegetable patch, because I just can’t do without my tomatoes & peppers.  You have been a great help to me in identifying these wonderful creatures not only visit, but now seem comfortable enough to take up residence with us.  Please don’t give me too much credit, as most of what happens is a result of plain old procrastination!
I don’t know if you are aware, but I first ran across you as a result of a photo of a Mallophora fautrix photo I submitted.  I attempted to identify it as Bombylans and apparently it caught your eye . . .
Thanks very much again for all of your help and the time you spend answering my requests.

Hi Anna,
Thanks for the reminder on that wonderful Robber Fly image.  We remembered the numerous Syrphids you have submitted.

Location: Johannesburg South Africa
December 9, 2010 8:08 pm
found this little guy in my garden in Johannesburg South Africa and wondered what it was……please help
Signature: dryzie

Tip Wilter

Dear dryzie,
This is a Big Legged Bug in the family Coreidae, but we are not certain of the species.  Because of their enlarged tibiae, insects in the family Coreidae are also known as Leaf Footed Bugs or Flag Footed Bugs.  We are not certain of the genus or species.  Most if not all members of the family feed upon plants.  The Biodiversity Explorer website of the web of life in Southern Africa indicates that insects in the family Coreidae are known as Tip Wilters, but your species is not represented on the site.

Bees in Art has a new homepage
December 9, 2010
Bees in Art has a new homepage: please take a look: www.beesinart.com
Kind regards,
Andrew & Debbie

Dear Andrew & Debbie,
We checked our archive and the link you provided us then is still working properly.  Thanks for informing our readership that you have redesigned the website.