Rare Moth, or travelled from North Africa?
I enclose photos of a ‘bug’ which arrived at my house yesterday, 01/07/04, in Finistere, North France. Nobody around here has ever seen anything like it. It measures 4 cm long by 5 cm across the wings. The colouring is pink and khaki. It also seems to have a barb at its rear end. Photos taken in a Jam Jar. Any ideas??
Roland Langridge

Hi Roland,
The jam jar makes the moth difficult to see, and my moth guide does not include European species, so I cannot give you a positive identification. I can tell you it is a Hawkmoth, a member of the Family Sphingidae. The family has a worldwide distribution, and some species are quite common. It is a relative of the Tomato Hornworm, that large green caterpillar hated by home gardeners.

Update:  ID thanks to Mardikavana
August 4, 2009
It should be an Elephant Hawk Moth Deilephila elpenor.

Thanks Markikavana,
With all the new mail we answer, we don’t really have the time to sift through the archives for old questions.  We really appreciate the assistance on this Elephant Hawkmoth identification.  We are linking to the Sphingidae of the Eastern Palaearctic to provide our readers with more information.  Since this letter, we have correctly identified several specimens of Deilephila elpenor.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

I’m hoping you can tell me what this is…I live in Central Wisconsin and it was right by my door in the early evening last night – scared me to death! It seemed to be about 4 inches wide by 3 inches long. Do I need to be afraid?
Any help is appreciated.
Thanks, Rebecca

Don’t be afraid Rebecca.
You have been visited by a Big Poplar Sphinx, Pachysphinx modesta. It is something of a special case, since it is the only member of its genus, though there is a second variety, Pachysphinx modesta occidentalis which lives in the far west and is lighter in color. The moth is a member of the Hawkmoth family, Sphingidae. The moth ranges over much of the U.S. and as far south as Northern Mexico. The caterpillars feed on poplar and willow.

Hi Daniel,
Thanks for your quick response. I’ve never seen a moth that big! Without the wings spread I wasn’t sure what it was – I was just hoping it wasn’t some kind of bat. I was looking at the website – Moths of North America – and then selected Wisconsin and the Sphingidae family to see if I could find the Big Poplar Sphinx and it’s not there. I tried finding it before emailing you but didn’t know where to begin. Any idea why it’s not listed? How common is it to see one of these moths? I love your site and since I just moved to 3 acres in the country I will be coming back often. Thanks for all your help.

The kids were on a playground and found this monster. After some work this morning, was able to identify it; thought you might like a photo. This guy was about 6" long. I have a photo taken from another angle where you can see that he is clearly longer than the 2×4 on which he was resting. Love your web site–just found it today–will surely visit again.

Thanks for your photo Deb.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Firstly let me congratulate you on a wonderful website. Within minutes of arriving I was able to identify that one the two strange bugs I found was a ‘House Centipede’. The other I’m having more problems with. I found the insect in the shower on a recent holiday to Greece. I think it may be some sort of beetle larva but would love to know which one. It reminds me of the ladybird larva but was considerably bigger at 1.5 to 2 inches in length. Any help would be much appreciated.
James Stratton.

Hi James,
It is definitely a beetle larva. It looks like one of the Lampyridae or Firefly larvae. They are predatory.

Noticed here in southern New Hampshire (Merrimack) and I have never seen anything like it…. Any ideas?

Totally awesome photograph of a White-spotted Sawyer, Monochamus scutellatus. These large Long-horned Borer Beetles, Family Cerambycidae, are black with a bronze sheen and white markings. The males have extremely long antennae, like your specimen. They attack felled or dead pine trees. Because the larvae make a buzzing sound, they are called “Sawyers”. Though they usually feed on freshly cut logs, they may attack living trees.

I have been looking through the spiders on your site, and believe my house is being overtaken by the jewelled araneus? I am sending pictures along, and the only reason I am not sure, is by your description of the web and breeding times. These spiders love the windows on our house, (eating moths, like you mentioned) but the webs are fairly small and quite messy. Not very "orb" like. They have stretched over large areas in some areas, like in my husband’s garage, from an engine stand to the bench. It ends up being almost hammock-like. Also, right now, almost everyone I have seen has about 3 egg sacks, some of which are "hatching" already. This doesn’t seem to match up with your description of them doing so in fall.
We’re not very worried about them, as they are adept bug killers. We live in Charles County, MD and we’re kind of out in the woods. We see plenty of different spiders! I have enclosed a picture of an adult female with egg sack, and the second is a younger one. I would appreciate your input, and would also like to know if having as many as we do is a problem. (they’re everywhere!!) Thanks for you time! (they also don’t seem to mind being in close proximity of each other)

Hi Debra,
You have a Domestic Spider, Theridion tepidariorum. Comstock writes: “Of all the spiders that inhabit our dwellings, this is the most familiar, and consequently best merits the title of the Domestic Spider. Its tangle of threads can be found in almost any neglected room, throughout the length and breadth of our country; and the species is not limited to our country for it is almost a cosmopolite. This is an exceedingly variable species in colour and markings. … The egg-sacs are brownish and pear-shaped with a dense outer coat. They are suspended in the web, and several of them are made by one spider.”