Subject:  Bee/wasp-like insect
Geographic location of the bug:  Kingston, NJ
Date: 08/17/2019
Time: 04:58 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  In the last week these bees have appeared in an area of our yard that is very dry with browned grass. All of a sudden they have bored holes in the ground with mounds of dirt around them. These bees are larger than most, seem non-aggressive but are wrecking the area around our patio. Today I noticed them attempting to move some dead cicadas towards the openings. Is there a way to rid the area of the bees(don’t want to kill them) and get them to relocate? We have lived here for 40 years and have never seen any bees like these? I would welcome all info.
How you want your letter signed:  Beelover, Liz

Cicada Killer

Dear Beelover Liz,
This is not a bee.  The Cicada Killer is a species of solitary Wasp that has a life cycle that lasts a year.  Upon emergence in early summer, a female Cicada Killer mates and then spends several weeks hunting Cicadas to provision an underground nest with food for her brood.  The larvae feed on the paralyzed, but still living Cicadas, and then pupate, emerging in early summer to begin the cycle again.  You will only be “troubled” by their digging for a short time longer.  We are having a hard time believing you discovered that trove of Cicadas on your walk.  We suspect they might have been excavated, destroying the underground nest along with a future generation of Cicada Killers.

A Trove of Paralyzed Cicadas


What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Unknown Pinkish Caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Motley, MN on a 22acre island on Lake Shamineau
Date: 08/17/2019
Time: 11:06 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Dear Bugman,
My sons and I were on a Father/Son retreat and we discovered this pinkish caterpillar w/ one long black strip down its back from its head to its rear-end.  It also had several black stripes that ran perpendicular to its one long black stripe.  The total caterpillar length was roughly 1 and 3/4 inch in length.  We know that their are likely many undiscovered insects and maybe caterpillars.  We’re wondering if the caterpillar we discovered on a small tree branch is already identified as we could not find it when searching for caterpillars in MN.  The photo attached is in my Sons terrarium and the red mushroom looking thing next to it is only a decoration.  We didn’t want to touch the caterpillar for a better picture for fear of a sting, or rash.
How you want your letter signed:  Sincerely, Richard Parkos and Sons

Elm Sawfly Larva

Dear Richard,
Thanks for clarifying the identity of that red decoration with the spots.  As we were formatting the image and color correcting it for posting, we obsessed on its identity.  This is not a caterpillar.  We suspected it to be a Sawfly Larva, but the markings are unusual, but our internet search produced several images that confirm our suspicions that this is the larva of an Elm Sawfly.  We have received images in the past of Elm Sawfly larvae that are yellow, green or pink, and they have a black stripe running the length of the body on the dorsal surface, but those traverse stripes are unusual.  There is a small image on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website with a caption that indicates “Elm sawfly larvae are typically yellow; it is uncommon to find the pink form” but it does not mention the traverse stripes.  Additional images on Insects Galore and Forestry Images also document these unusual markings.  The adult Elm Sawfly is a non-stinging relative of wasps and bees.  Elm Sawfly larvae will not sting and they will not produce a rash.

Subject:  Big?
Geographic location of the bug:  New Jersey, USA
Date: 08/17/2019
Time: 03:15 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello daughter rescued this guy from our pool. He scurried away, was very fast. Looked to have front legs but back end more worm like
How you want your letter signed:  Cher Mom

Ground Beetle Larva

Dear Cher Mom,
Immature insects often present greater identification challenges than adult insects present.  We suspected this to be a Ground Beetle larva and we found supporting visual validation on Project Noah which has a similar looking image identified as a Pterostichini sp. and on BugGuide where a similar image is identified as a
Pasimachus species.   Ground Beetles are predators as larvae and adults and Caterpillars are often a preferred prey.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Strange Flyer Dances into my Curiosity
Geographic location of the bug:  Gloucester, Va
Date: 08/14/2019
Time: 07:03 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This odd creature flew into my phone, bounced off & landed in front of me. It then proceeds to waggle it’s purplish wings & tasseled abdomen at me before retracting it’s wings (somewhere!) Only to produce them once again & promptly take off. It’s a hot and steamy August here in Virginia. I’ve been a keen observer of nature all of my life & can honestly say, this one has stumped me completely. Hope you guys can help me out!
How you want your letter signed:  Thanks a bunch! Holly G

Rove Beetle

Dear Holly,
You have good reason for being stumped.  This is a Rove Beetle in the family Staphylinidae, and many members of the family look very different from the “typical” beetle.  Unfortunately, BugGuide is currently experiencing technical difficulty and we cannot search for the species, but luckily, we were able to identify it as 
Platydracus maculosus in Beetles of Eastern North America by Arthur V. Evans where it states it is:  “the largest rove beetle in North America.”  The image with its abdomen curled up is a typical threat posture for many Rove Beetles.

Rove Beetle

Subject:  New to my yard
Geographic location of the bug:  Southwestern PA, foothills of the Appalachians
Date: 08/14/2019
Time: 09:25 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I’ve just noticed these in my yard this year – and there’s quite a few of them.   Yesterday I saw one holding another smaller bug (gnat maybe?)in its, so I’m thinking they might be carnivorous.
How you want your letter signed:  Frankie

Gnat Ogre

Dear Frankie,
Your submission has us terribly amused.  We immediately suspected this to be a predatory Robber Fly in the family Asilidae, and we tried a web search for Robber Flies with huge eyes, and we quickly found some images posted to BugGuide indicating it might be in the genus
Holcocephala, but alas BugGuide is currently having technical difficulties and is not available, so we searched that genus name elsewhere and we encountered Discover Life where we learned members of this genus are commonly called Gnat Ogres, hence the source of our amusement.  For the sake of continuity, we are going to assume the prey you witnessed was in fact a Gnat.  The name Gnat Ogre is also used on iNaturalist.  According to iNaturalist, there are 40 species in the genus.

Gnat Ogre

Thank you! I love the name!!!

Subject:  What’s this bug?
Geographic location of the bug:  Alabama
Date: 08/15/2019
Time: 10:30 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  What is this?
How you want your letter signed:  Gillian McCown

Stump Stabber

Dear Gillian,
This is a female Giant Ichneumon in the genus
Megarhyssa, probably Megarhyssa macrurus.  Giant Ichneumons are sometimes called Stump Stabbers because the female uses her long ovipositor to deposit eggs beneath the bark of trees infested with wood boring larvae of Horntails.  They are not aggressive and they do not sting.