Currently viewing the tag: "bug of the month"

Subject:  Gray Tree Frog
Geographic location of the bug:  Campbell, Ohio
Date: 07/28/2021
Time: 07:23 AM EDT
Gentle Readers,
Daniel is currently out of the office for a month.  He is spending time in Ohio in his family home, working in the garden and doing repairs and maintenance.  Daniel has often stated that when asked many years ago (1998) to write a column in American Homebody that he decided to write What’s That Bug? because everyone wants to know the answer to that question.  Furthermore, children, especially young boys loved bugs, and Daniel was no exception.  If this is old-fashioned gender bias, Daniel apologizes, but in the sixties, most girls were not interested in bugs while boys were fascinated with all things that crawled.  We would go to the pond to catch tadpoles in the spring, and tramping through fields and woods in search of critters was a year round activity, with winter being the best time to search for the cocoons of giant silk moths.  At any rate, a small wading pool pond has been in the backyard for years and today it is more of an overgrown swamp than a clear pond, but the wildlife loves it.  What a childhood dream it would have been to have frogs breeding in that pond and to have tadpoles there instead of goldfish.

Gray Tree Frog 7:23 AM

So early in the morning Daniel spotted something on a peony leaf and he was stunned to see this little beauty, presumably a Gray Tree Frog, Hyla versicolor, which we located on the Ohio Amphibians website where it states:  “Snout-vent length 3 to 5 cm (1 1/4 to inches).  Skin is warty to granular.  Gray ground color is typical of both species but they may change to green.  Back is marked with an irregular lichen-like pattern and the undersides are white.  A white patch occurs under the eyes.  Inside of each thigh has a bright yellow flash mark visible when the legs are outstretched.  Toe discs are large and distinctive.”  Daniel did write to Jeff Davis to verify this species identification because though the Gray Tree Frog is reported in much of Ohio, there are no reports from Mahoning County.

Gray Tree Frog 7:55 AM

According to Ohio Biota:  “The Gray Treefrog is arguably the most charismatic frog of Lake County.  Superficially, they resemble a toad with less bumpy skin and large toe pads.  These frogs can change their dorsal coloration and may be gray, gray-brown, gray-green, or bright green.  A darker lichen-like pattern, lightly outlined in black, decorates the back.  Depending on the individual frog the back pattern can be pronounced or nearly absent.  The belly is white and the inside of the thighs are bright yellow.”  A half hour later, Daniel got the best image of the little critter, still sitting on a peony leaf, but looking a gorgeous blue-green color.

Gray Tree Frog hiding from hot sun 1:12 PM

As the day got hotter and the sun got stronger, the Tree Frog sought shelter in the shade.

Gray Tree Frog 7:48 PM

As dusk approached, it settled in for the night.  Daniel heard the frogs calling nearby in the early evening, but not a sound from the part of the garden where the Tree Frog was found.  Only males sing.  Perhaps this is a female.  Daniel knows that readers have been sending in identification requests, and this self indulgent posting took a great deal of time, but Daniel is fully aware that Amphibians are an indication of a healthy ecosystem, and Daniel’s Ohio yard is wildlife habitat in a field of manicured lawns that have few trees and that use pesticides to kill Japanese Beetle Grubs and herbicides to control dandelions, making those manicured lawns toxic wastes for wildlife.
If nothing else seeing this Tree Frog filled Daniel with a sense that he is doing the right thing in the way he will care for his family homestead, and it is fully supporting that the key to solving global warming (other than addressing overpopulation which is out of control) is for each person to try to make the world a better place.  So, in light of this historic sighting in his Ohio back yard, Daniel is declaring the Tree Frog the Bug of the Month for August 2021.


Subject:  Moth question
Geographic location of the bug:  Orondo Wa
Date: 06/29/2021
Time: 01:19 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman :  Can help identify this creature
How you want your letter signed:  Gilbert

Western Poplar Sphinx

Dear Gilbert,
We believe this impressive Moth is a Western Poplar Sphinx,
Pachysphinx occidentalis, which is pictured on BugGuide. According to BugGuide:  “Larvae feed on leaves of cottonwoods, especially Populus freemonti and Populus sargentii, also willow (Salix spp.). Adults do not feed.”  According to Sphingidae of the United States of America:  “This is a large moth, forewings are between 51-71mm in length (2). The large scalloped forewings are light yellow-gray and brown with a white reniform spot. In the similar Pachysphinx modesta, the forewings tend to be a grayer color, and overall darker.”  Butterflies and Moths of North America lists a Spokane, Washington sighting.  Because of the timing of your submission as well as the impressiveness of the Western Poplar Sphinx, we have selected it as the Bug of the Month for July 2021.

Thanks for the quick response. It was a beautiful specimen and I enjoyed watching it for like 20 minutes or so that it was with us. Can you tell if it was male or female how does that even matter.
Thanks again

Hi again Gilbert,
Here is an image of mating Western Poplar Sphinxes.  The female is generally larger with a thicker body.  We believe your individual is a female but we would defer to an expert in the Sphingidae moths.

Subject:  Goldsmith Beetle
Geographic location of the bug:  Zimmerman, MN North America USA
Date: 06/01/2021
Time: 01:00 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello, this is the second time I’ve encountered what I believe to be a goldsmith Beetle. Coolest bug ever. The first time was in the backyard a couple of years ago. The second time, was tonight, waiting for me at the front door. I brought it in to show my mother, she was not a fan. I put it back outside to carry on.
How you want your letter signed:  S. Botzet

Goldsmith Beetle

Dear S. Botzet,
Thanks so much for sending in your awesome images of a Goldsmith Beetle, the beetle allegedly the fictional Gold Bug of Edgar Allen Poe fame.  Your timing is perfect for us to select your letter as the Bug of the Month for June 2021.  The Goldsmith Beetle is described on BugGuide as “A large yellow/green scarab with no elytral markings. Elytra has irregular rows of punctures.”

Goldsmith Beetle

Subject:  Bumble Bee
Geographic location of the bug:  Campbell, Ohio
Date: 05/02/2021
Time: 10:26 AM EDT
Daniel is currently in Ohio and he has limited resources since he cannot use photoshop to crop, color correct or resize images, but while working in the garden yesterday, he could not help but to notice this lovely, large Bumble Bee visiting the plentiful dandelions.

Probably Common Eastern Bumble Bee

We believe this is most likely the Common Eastern Bumble Bee, which is pictured on BugGuide, and due to her size, we believe she is a queen.

Probably Common Eastern Bumble Bee

Probably Common Eastern Bumble Bee


Subject:  Gray Bird Grasshopper
Date: 03/29/2021
Time: 4:00 PM PDT
Geographic location of the bug:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
Dear Gentle Readers,
For some time, Daniel has tried to educate the curious about the interconnectivity of all things on our planet, and since the pandemic, Daniel has retreated from the internet (but for work related duties like teaching online) and stopped posting to WTB? on a regular basis.  During that time, Daniel has spent most of his time in the garden during lockdown, and more and more the philosophy of interconnectivity has permeated his life.  The complex relationships between plants and animals in the garden is daunting.  Recently while gardening, this large female Gray Bird Grasshopper was startled into flying by the hose.  According to Charles Hogue in his marvelous book Insects of the Los Angeles Basin:  “I have noticed adults only in the spring; they are gray or brownish in general color, and the hind wings are uniformly transparent olive-green.  The light green nymphs attain noticeable size in the late summer.  Both stages feed on various garden crops and ornamentals.”  The adult females are easily the size of a small bird when they fly with their long legs trailing behind them.  I try to relocate adults and large nymphs elsewhere in the garden when I find them on plants I value.  See BugGuide for more information on the Gray Bird Grasshopper.

Female Gray Bird Grasshopper

Subject:  Eastern Tiger Swallowtails
Geographic location of the bug:  Campbell, Ohio
Date: 08/02/2020
Time: 11:10 AM EDT
Gentle Readers,
Daniel has been called out of town for a family emergency, and low and behold, he has finally entered the 21st Century by purchasing his first mobile phone, and he has been calling the iPhone 11 Pro he just bought his Magic Phone.  The magic phone takes gorgeous digital images, and Daniel has been taking images of the insects found in The Rust Belt.  Here are images of a male and female (blue scales on the underwings) Eastern Tiger Swallowtails that have been visiting the butterfly bush he is planting in his childhood front yard to replace the dead shrubs that are being removed.  Daniel apologizes for ignoring the numerous identification requests that have been flooding in, but family obligations are currently taking up most of his time.  Daniel hopes to also get some images of the Spicebush Swallowtails that he has seen in the past week.

The male Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is smaller and lacks the blue scales on the underwings.

The larger female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail has beautiful blue scales on the underwings.