big spider
I took this pic at my mother’s house in Mobile, AL, about 2 yrs ago. I was just wondering if you knew what it was. the body was between 1-2 inches and the spider itself would take up most of my hand.


Hi Mary,
Your spider is an Orb Weaver known as the Silk Spider, Nephila clavipes. It gets its common name from its strong gold silk. It is also called the Banana Spider.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Need ID of This Beautiful Nocturnal(?) Moth
Hi There Bugman,
Just discovered your funky bug site. I need an ID on this critter that crossed my path (literally flew into my face) one warm evening in August of ’03. I live on Long Island NY and never in my 42 years seen one of these kind of moths flying around. I initially mistook it for a small brown bat! I then figured it for a Luna moth but after seeing one ID’d on your site I have not a clue. Please Advise.

Hi R.P.
Your Polyphemus Moth, Antheraea polyphemus, belongs to the same Family as the Luna Moth. Both are Saturnids or Giant Silkworm Moths. Caterpillars eat leaves from many deciduous trees and adults do not feed, living only a few days to mate and reproduce.

black-orange bug?
Hello: your web site is really cool. My son and I found a bug outside and we don’t know what it is. We live in Phoenix, Arizona. The bug is pretty big. Maybe 1 inch long. Black body with an orange head. We found it on a leaf on our Magnolia tree. Just like to know anything about it. Is it harmless? I haven’t seen one of these bugs after living in Arizona for 10 years. So I am curious as to what it is and if it is common around here.
Paul Avona

Hi Paul,
You have a photo of an Arizona Blister Beetle, Lytta magister. It is found in deserts in Arizona. Much of the life cycle is still unknown, but adults eat plant tissues of desert shrubs and larvae attacks grasshopper eggs in soil. Blister Beetles secrete a chemical cantharidin which causes blisters on human skin.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Type of bug eating the leaves of my tree?
The attached picture of these little bugs that are eating the leaves of one type of tree I have. They are about the size of your little finger’s nail. They are only attacking this one type of tree I have, not sure what kind of tree it is, but I have Elms and Oaks and they don’t mess with them. This tree is very large, probably about 4 foot in diameter. I’ve been constantly spraying the trunk up to about 12 feet up and so far are controlling them…but my neighbor has the same kind of tree and they are in it too but he’s too lazy to spray them. I cannot find any evidence of the bugs borrowing out of the bark, I can’t find any holes anywhere, but the bark is very coarse. Any idea what these bugs are or how to better controll them?
Robert Downey

Dear Robert,
We wanted to be sure about the identity of your beetles, so we wrote to Eric Eaton who quickly responded: “Well, if they are from the U.S., then they are leaf beetles in the genus Calligrapha, family Chrysomelidae. All bets are off if they are from outside North America north of Mexico:-) Neat insects.

Identify please!
Dearest Bugman:
Today is the one of the first "above-normal" temperature-wise we have here in Nashville, TN and we’ve probably had over an inch of rain in the past few days. I was working in my garden/patio area when a zillion of these, each in single file, took off as if they were flying for the first time. They appear to be flying ants?! I am not sure exactly where they are coming from, possibly there is a nest between the cracks of my brick home. I was happy to see them flying away, but they didn’t really take off until I reacted to the site of them by stamping on them as they were hovering on their launch pad, my back doorstep! What are they and what should I do? Ick! Thanks for your oh-so-helpful knowledge and time with everyone’s bug issues.
Extremely bugged in Nashville!

Dear Bugged,
We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you have swarming termites.

Please help!
Yesterday, my four year old entomologist found this outstanding bug at a wildlife rescue place. It is near farmlands (strawberries, squashes, etc). I have had one person help identify it as a snout beetle or weevil, but could you help be more specific so we can learn more about it? Thank you! Joanna

Hi Joanna,
Needless to say, we are very intrigued by your insect, a Weevil or Snout Beetle from the largest insect Family Curculionidae. We are not familiar with your species and one expert we questioned even suggested the possibility your images were Photoshop™ enhanced, a theory we quickly dismissed. We did some web research and found a tribe of Weevils known as Leptopiinae, the Painted Weevils, including the genuses Gymnopholus and Eupholus which are described as “very handsome and metallic blue, green or reddish”. They are found in New Guinea and Indonesia. That is the best we can do at the moment, but we would love to know where your Weevil was found and perhaps we can learn something more concrete.

We are more than excited as well–I was about to nix him and glue him to a card to start Max’s bug collection, but I think we’ll wait! We are in Miami, Florida, USA. This is so exciting–I wasn’t too impressed with Max’s finds up until now (they mostly consisted of cockroaches-EW!), but this has definitely peaked my interest! We wrote to one guy and sent the same pictures–he wrote back and offered to trade a bug book in exchange for our weevil. We’ve decided to hold onto him for a bit. We would like to keep him alive, though, but if we can’t, do you have suggestions for preserving him? We “carded” a practice beetle with a little elmer’s glue and his body color and shape seems to be good. Is this sufficient? I am quite anxious to hear more! Feel free to call: 305-251-9091. Thank you!

Ed. Note: Eric Eaton passes on the following advice on dealing with Exotic specimes:
Dear Friends:
Daniel Marlos of “What’s that bug?” was kind enough to pass along your e-mail that accompanied the photo.I am personally unfamiliar with this insect, and wonder if it might not be an exotic species. If that is the case, someone in the U.S.D.A. (Department of Agriculture) needs to see the thing. Urestricted “free trade” is leading to many more accidental importations of pest insects. The authorities need our help in documenting newly-arrived species so as to thwart outbreaks. Please consider contacting an official soon, while the insect is still alive. Thank you.
Eric R. Eaton

Spoke to a guy at the USDA this morning and we’re going to drop him off this afternoon. He *thinks* he has collected this species before, but either way, it’s so newly established here that they need to document its existence here, so they’ll send our guy off the Gainesville for positive identification and then HOPEFULLY, Max will get him back. Cross your fingers and I’ll let you know what they think he is! Thank you for all of your help!
P.S. Just so you know….the guy still couldn’t identify it, but he recalls having caught one of these himself a number of years ago. He’s sending it to Gainesville, Florida for cataloguing, but promises that we’ll get it back. (Let’s hope!)

Please keep us posted as to the latest developments in this continuing melodrama Joanna. Sadly, What’s That Bug? is currently down due to heavy traffic, but we will return to the web in May and we want to continue to follow your saga.

Thank you so much for all of your help! Another entomologist I have contacted thinks it may be Eurhinus magnificus, but it has been sent to Gainesville to make sure and to catalogue him. I am assured that he will be returned to me in about a week to become the crown jewel in my son’s bug collection. We will however, be on the outlook for more and any subsequent ones I’d be happy to send to you! Thanks to Eric Eaton as well for putting us in touch with the proper authorities (i.e. USDA)–please pass along my appreciation (and the identification).

Hi Joanna,
This surely is interesting. I checked on Eurhinus magnificus and it is from Costa Rica, but no images. It sounds like you might be on your way to becoming an entomologist as well as Max.

Update: 17 June 2009, 7:27 AM
In trying to identify an unusual Weevil from Costa Rica today, we stumbled upon this great link with the life cycle of Eurhinus magnificus.