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Subject: Cecropia moths?
Location: Southern Middle Tennessee
May 24, 2017 5:18 am
Found these two on my back door this morning. Could they be Cecropia moths?
Signature: Thank you, A. Garretson

Mating Tuliptree Silkmoths

Dear A. Garretson,
These are mating Giant Silkmoths, but they are NOT Cecropia Moths.  They are in the genus
Callosamia, and of the three possibilities found in North America, we believe you have witnessed an amorous pair of Tuliptree Silkmoths, Callosamia angulifera.  According to BugGuide:  “Males are brown centrally, females yellowish brown. On females the angular white spots are largest on the forewings.”

Mating Tuliptree Silkmoths

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Subject:  Metallic Wood Boring Beetles mating on a native California Black Walnut Branch
Location:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
May 17, 2017 2:33 PM
We just discovered these Metallic Wood Boring Beetles “in flagrante delicto” on a twig of a Calfornia Black Walnut in our office garden.  They have excellent eyesight and moved to avoid the camera.  Interestingly, Charles Hogue does not list any members of the family in his landmark book, Insects of the Los Angeles Basin.  We are currently on a mission to attempt to identify the species.

Mating Jewel Beetles:  Dicerca hornii

We have put in a request to Dr Doug Yanega at UC Riverside, but meanwhile, we found this information on Dicerca horni Crotch on the UC Riverside Urban Entomology page:  “This is a common flatheaded borer of the Pacific Coast states. It belongs in a genus of medium-sized buprestids that are characterized by their dull-bronze color and the prolonged tips of the elytra (plate II, 1; figure 126). Dicerca horni is a dark, grayish bronze, 13 to 25 mm long, and has small, black, narrow, broken ridges on the dorsum. The larvae are approximately 2.33 times longer than the adults. This species occurs on many species of deciduous trees (including fruit trees) and shrubs, inhabiting dead or dying trees or dead wood on living trees. Adults may be seen from April to September. This is not a pest, but we receive many requests for its identification.” The species name led to this BugGuide image of Dicerca hornii (BugGuide has added an additional i to the scientific name) and it looks like a match.  There is also a lovely image on CalPhotos.  Our image shows some very pretty magenta highlights on the legs and edges of the thorax.

Confirmation Courtesy of James Hogue
This looks like a good name to me.  I have specimens of this species from the mountain ranges surrounding the L. A. Basin and from the lowlands of the San Fernando Valley.
Jim Hogue

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Subject: Tree hopper – but WOW!
Location: College Grove (Bunbury), Western Australia
May 16, 2017 10:07 pm
Dear Bugman,
I live and work in Bunbury, Western Australia at a University campus in a natural bush setting. I have a favourite break-time perch on a fallen tree trunk, where for the past few months I have been noticing on occasion juvenile tree hoppers (possibly nymphs) climbing up the trunk of a nearby tree. I did not think to photograph them as they were – forgive me – rather plain looking. They had none of the lurid adornments of many hoppers (such as the ‘fluffy bums’), their tail end has two shortish spines which they carry erect.
Now that the rains have come, I have been noticing what may be an adult form of this hopper. It has the same colouration as the juvenile hoppers I was seeing. I have attached a photo of a single winged insect and what do you know, it has a spectacular tuft of white hair erupting from it’s backside, like I’ve seen in pictures of some nymphs of other hopper species! It is photographed on the trunk of the Banksia tree which I believe is the host plant. You can see that the insect’s colouration is a good match for the bark. They are not strong fliers, managing distances of only a metre or two at a time. They showed no interest in each other whenever they met by chance, which had me wondering if I was seeing represented only one sex.
I was not left wondering for long, as yesterday I found several of what appear to be the mature female form of the insect – and what an amazing creature she is! She is wingless and appears to fully retain her larval form, however is MANY times the size of the male. The specimen I photographed was making her way across damp leaf litter under the trees. Dwarfed by her enormous size, you can see three males on her back, which makes me think I’m definitely seeing male and female of the same species. I saw several specimens with males attached.
I am amazed that what I thought was a rather plain treehopper may be very unusual indeed – the extreme sexual dimorphism suggests the males and females have very different lifestyles, – ‘conventional’ hopper males in the treetops and giant larval females perhaps among the leaf litter. If I had not seen them together, I would never have imagined they were the same species. I have not been able to find any images online that are similar to my specimens, nor any indication that such dimorphism is common in hoppers. I am excited to have found such an unusual and seemingly undocumented insect.
What do you think, Bugman?
Signature: Glenn Brockman

Male Bird of Paradise Scale Insect

Hi Glenn,
What we think is that your images are amazing, and that this is a really exciting posting for us, but these are NOT Treehoppers, but they are members of the same order Hemiptera.  We quickly identified the male Scale Insect as a Bird of Paradise Fly from the genus
Callipappus, thanks to the Australian Museum site where it states:  “This genus includes some of the largest known scale insects in the world. The males and females look completely different. Males are delicate and exotic insects, whilst females are flightless grub-like insects.”  The site also states:  “Males have the front pair of wings well-developed for flying, with the hind pair of wings reduced, so that they look superficially like true flies in the order Diptera. The mouthparts are not functional, so the usual characteristic of the order Hemiptera (“sucking mouthparts”) is not visible. Males have long waxy filaments protruding from the tip of their abdomen, and when they fly they resemble dandelion seed heads. The wings and body are often coloured with vivid violet or red.  Adult females are large, up to 40mm long, often covered in waxy powder, and are usually found immobile and attached to vertical surfaces such as trees and fence posts.”  More information provided on Australian Museum states:  “Females moult into the adult stage and crawl up above ground and onto vertical structures such as trees and fence posts. Males mate with the females at this stage, then the females crawl to a protected place such as under bark, or in a crevice, where they become immobile and appear essentially dead. At this stage the four posterior segments of the abdomen are retracted into the abdomen to form a large cavity (“marsupium”), with a posterior slit-like opening. The first instar nymphs (“crawlers”) develop inside this marsupium in the dead leathery body of the mother, then emerge, dropping onto vegetation and soil. Mortality of these crawlers must be very high as 1,000 to 2,000 are produced per female.”  The site also states:  “Immature stages live underground on roots of plant hosts where they suck sap. Food plants are poorly known, as adult females often move away from nymphal feeding locations.”  You might have discovered that Banksia is a food plant.  The Bird of Paradise Fly and its mating habits are also profiled on the Brisbane Insect site where Violet Pheonix is listed as an alternate name and this information:  “The male has a small head and two black eyes, antenna are about the same length as it body. The male has only one pair of wings. We cannot see any sign of the second pair of wings. The wing veins are simple. They do not put down their wings when rest. We cannot see their mouth parts. The female is much larger than the male and is wingless. She has the flat and scout body with small eyes. She has the antenna about the same length as the male’s. She has three pairs of strong legs for climbing up the gum tree trunk. We believe they are going to lay eggs on the tree top.”  Thank you for contributing this marvelous addition to our site.

Mating Bird of Paradise Scale Insects

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Subject: Driveway Swarm of these Flying Insects
Location: Southern California
May 4, 2017 8:58 pm
This morning there were hundreds of these flying insects lying dead in the driveway, grouped in a fairly small area about 6 feet across. I scooped up a few onto white paper, added a ruler and took a picture. I’m curious – are these flying ants or are they (heaven forbid) termites?
Signature: Gene

Red Imported Fire Ant Alates

Dear Gene,
These are the reproductive alates of the only species of Ant ubiquitous across Southern California, the Argentine Ant.  When it is time to swarm, winged males and females take flight to mate and start new colonies.  In our opinion, the Argentine Ant is the most destructive invasive exotic species in Southern California, and it does much more damage than the dreaded Med Fly.

Correction:  May 14, 2017
We just received a correction from Ben that these are more likely Red Imported Fire Ant alates, and this BugGuide image does support that correction.  According to BugGuide:  “native to South America, adventive in our area and spreading throughout so. US north to MD-IL-MO-TX-CA); introduced to many Old World countries” and “The most aggressive and widespread of the fire ants found in North America. It was introduced into the US from Brazil between 1933 and 1945.  If their nest is stepped on, the workers rush out and sting the feet and legs of the intruder. Each sting results in a small, painful wound that develops into a pustule in 24-48 hours. As the pustules heal they become itchy and can become infected.”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: what is going on with these wasps
Location: near houston
April 28, 2017 9:56 am
very odd. 4 wasps on top of each other. At first ii thought it was a multiple mating, but It appears that the bugs on top are dead. What is going here? what sort of wasp is this? is this normal? i’ve never seen this before.
Signature: jay in texas

Mud Dauber Mystery

Dear Jay,
We wish you had been able to provide better quality images.  While there is enough detail to determine that these are Black and Yellow Mud Daubers,
Sceliphron caementarium, and it appears they are “attached” to one another at the head like each was biting another at the “neck”, we cannot fathom what is going on or what happened.  It is interesting that you observed the the ones on top are dead.  Does that mean the ones on the bottom were alive?  It also appears that they are on a collapsible hose, which makes sense since Mud Daubers are often found near puddles that occur when watering or near swimming pools.  You may verify our identification by comparing your individuals to this BugGuide image.  Mud Daubers are solitary Wasps, and each female makes and provisions her own nest, so this “group activity” is quite puzzling.  We will contact Eric Eaton to see if he can provide a hypothesis on what is happening.

Update:  Supposed Mating Behavior
Thanks to Cesar Crash who provided comments with links to Shutterstock and BugGuide.

Eric Eaton Confirms
….Three males competing for a female (bottom-most individual).  The neck-grabbing is typical male mate-guarding behavior, or attempt to mate.
author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: 50 of the came out of nowhere
Location: Delaware Ohio 43015
April 19, 2017 6:40 pm
We have lived here for 17 years and have never witnessed this before. One late afternoon mid April in Central Ohio our detached garage started to buzz. There were at least 50 of these mating. What are they and are they dangerous. We have small children and pets. Very concerned. Thank you,
Signature: Thank you Ryan Boyer

Mating Hickory Borers

Dear Ryan,
Was there a pile of firewood in or near your garage?  Because of their spring appearance, we know these are Hickory Borers and not the very similar looking and closely related Locust Borers that usually appear in the fall when the goldenrod is blooming.  Neither species is dangerous, but both mimic stinging YellowJackets for protection.  While not dangerous, Hickory Borers have strong mandibles that might deliver a painful nip if carelessly handled.  Larvae of Hickory Borers are wood borers, and according to BugGuide:  “larvae mine newly dead hickory, and sometimes other hardwoods.”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination