Assassin Bug Nymph?
Location: Georgia
January 31, 2011 8:55 pm
There are so many of these bugs all over the tree in my front yard that my child plays on all the time. She is the one who found the bugs and showed them to me. Of course I’m not letting her play on it now, but I sure would like to make sure it isn’t poisonous. Many Thanks! 🙂
Signature: M. McCoy

Milkweed Assassin Bug Nymph

Dear M. McCoy,
You are correct that this is an Assassin Bug.  It is an immature Milkweed Assassin Bug,
Zelus longipes, and you can read more about the species on BugGuide.  Though they can bite if carelessly handled, and the bite is reported to be painful, the Milkweed Assassin Bug is not venomous and it poses no threat beyond the initial discomfort caused by the bite.  We generally refrain from giving parenting advice, however, we do tend to voice our opinion and we do not shy away from controversial topics from time to time.  It seems like a positive characteristic that your child thought to question you about the insects she found at one of her favorite play sites, and negative repercussions might occur if she is forbidden to play there again.  Why not just explain to her that if she is not careful, she might get bitten?  That way you can teach her to respect and appreciate the natural world that surrounds her without punishing her for coming to you with her curiosity.  There are much bigger threats out in the world than Assassin Bugs.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Strange bug from Guyana
Location: Corentyne, Berbice, Guyana, South America
February 1, 2011 7:27 am
Hi bugman,
I have been living in Guyana for the past 6 years and recently came across this bug on our window screen. We live on the coast of Guyana in Berbice,South America. When I touched the bug, he grabbed me with his leg and I quickly pulled away as I notices a sharp spike protruding from the front of his head. Then I noticed a clear liquid coming from the end of the spike. Just wanted to know what is living around the house.
Signature: kozman

Assassin Bug

Dear kozman,
This is one impressive looking Assassin Bug in the family Reduviidae.  Assassin Bugs are predators that use their piercing mouthparts to suck fluids from their prey, and we have never seen an Assassin Bug with a more formidable looking beak.  The raptorial front legs are quite distinctive as well and these physical characteristics should make a species identification relatively easy.  We can predict that the bite of this particular Assassin Bug is most likely quite painful, and we just posted a letter regarding the bite of a different species of Assassin Bug.  One group of Assassin Bugs, the Kissing Bugs or Blood Sucking Conenose Bugs in the genus
Triatoma (see BugGuide), prey upon warm blooded hosts.  In the tropics, the bite of the Kissing Bug is known to spread Chagas Disease.  Your Assassin Bug is not one of the Blood Sucking Conenose Bugs, we we would advise utmost caution in handling it nonetheless.

large green armored bug (moth?)
Location: Lahaina, Maui, HI
February 1, 2011 12:33 am
I asked some locals, but no one seems to know what this is. Everyone is impressed by it though. It was about 3”x3” more or less. All feedback is greatly appreciated
Signature: Cindy

Oleander Hawkmoth

Hi Cindy,
The Oleander Hawkmoth pictured in your photograph is a species native to Africa and Asia, but because its caterpillar feeds upon the leaves of the poisonous oleander, the range of the species now includes Hawaii because the climate is conducive to survival and the food plant is cultivated.  According to the Sphingidae of the Americas website:  “In 1974, this species was recorded as having established itself in Hawaii.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Caterpillar
Location: Zimbabwe
January 31, 2011 9:56 am
Hi we found this caterpillar in Harare, Zimbabwe, dying to know what it is. Its about 9cm long. Hope you can help.
Signature: Dana Lister

Unknown Caterpillar

Dear Dana,
We don’t recognize your caterpillar, which we believe will metamorphose into a moth and not a butterfly, but we love your photo.  We will post your letter and images and continue to search for the identity of this stunning creature, and we hope that our readership will assist us in scouring the internet for a possible identification.

Unknown Caterpillar

”Turtle-Bug!”
Location: Coastal North Carolina
January 28, 2011 9:56 pm
My mom and I were walking around a small park and saw five of these insects. They didn’t seem to get longer than two inches, though I’m not sure if that’s because it was about 40 degrees out. They had this turtle-like head that would come out, strangely small and almost snake-like due to how long they could stretch it, but when I breathed on it, it drew the head back in. So after the first one, I started pointing them out and calling them the ’turtle-bugs’. I can’t seem to find it anywhere online, though I really have no clue where to begin looking. Perhaps you can help?
Signature: ZCB

Beetle Larva: Either Netwing Beetle or Firefly

Dear ZCB,
This curious creature is a beetle larva, and there are two different families of beetles that have larvae that look remarkably similar to one another. Our first guess would be that this is a Firefly Larva in the family Lampyridae, and you can see that your individual looks quite similar to this posting on BugGuide, however, Netwing Beetles in the family Lycidae, like this example on BugGuide, also look quite similar.  The Larvae of Fireflies are predatory, and their prey includes snails, while the larvae of Netwing Beetles feed upon fungus.

Fan letter, no response requested
January 31, 2011 3:50 pm
I have just spent the morning re-visiting your site, one of the very best in the world in my humble opinion. To my knowledge, no one else is doing what you do. Just one reason for your work: songbirds of all kinds are in serious decline, in no small measure due to pesticide use. Private individuals are often the worst offenders in use of widely available, broad-spectrum pesticides. We all need to learn not to unthinkingly destroy invertebrates.
Unnecessary Carnage” is important as well as entertaining (if tragic), and the entire “Nasty Readership” section has made me laugh more today than anything has in weeks. You guys are incredible. I know it’s a lot to ask of volunteers with important, time-consuming day jobs, but please never stop!
Sincerely,
Signature: Lee White

Hi Lee,
Thanks so much for your kind letter.  It is really appreciated.

Update
Me again, sorry — more supportive thoughts
February 1, 2011 1:36 am
I have been sitting here for some time now, re-reading your marvelous responses to irate readers. These are people who have been trained to believe that the customer, however ignorant and infantile, deserves immediate gratification and an ego stroke in the process. “Ooh, was the bug scary? Oh you poor thing! I can’t believe you waited hours for my unpaid labor!” It thrills me beyond words that you don’t play that game.
As to the smash-first response (“But I was scared!” “I feared for the safety of the chiilldrennn…”), how hard is it to brush the critter off and count some legs? Education is everything! As a California child, I feared the dreaded potato bug, but eventually learned to appreciate it as the harmless and charming Jerusalem cricket. Of course, some people don’t care; they smash because they just don’t like bugs, or because “it’s only a bug”. As I recently told my  classmate, who smirked while I took some trapped boxelder bugs outside, “they understand suffering as well as you do”. Unnecessary carnage is not okay.
Signature: Lee White

Potato Bug from our archives

Thanks for your additional insight Lee.  We have found a nice image of a Potato Bug from our archives to illustrate your passionate and supportive letter.