Currently viewing the tag: "mysteries"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: green caterpillar
Location: NE corner of WA state.
June 27, 2017 1:53 pm
I’d like to identify the caterpiller (and it resulting moth or butterfly) in the attached photos. It seems to act like a tent caterpiller but spins a strand and drops down to earth. Most strands get wrapped around each other forming a much larger strand (1/4″ dia) that reaches the ground. This site was on a forest road in NE Washington.
Thanks.
Signature: John McMillan

Caterpillar Swarm

Dear John,
Since it is green and appears to be hairless, this is most definitely NOT a Tent Caterpillar.  Our web searching for caterpillars exhibiting this behavior in Washington has not produced anything significant, however we did find this interesting article Daily Mail concerning millions of green caterpillars on a single tree.  The site states:  “Stuart Edmunds, from Shropshire Wildlife Trust, said he believed the moths could be the larvae of the aptly named ash moth: ‘It is incredibly rare, when there is a limited supply of trees like there is in this area the ash moth mothers could have decided to lay their eggs all in one place. Usually the caterpillars would be distributed over many more trees and with this many on a few trees there is a danger it could weaken the trees'”  Was the phenomena you observed limited to a single tree?  We feel certain this is a moth caterpillar.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to help us solve this mystery.

Caterpillar Swarm

Thanks, Daniel.
The site in the photos was all in one tree (which looked rather dry and somewhat bare of leaves).
However, we did see smaller versions of this in two other trees along that same patch of forest. We did not identify the trees the ash moth caterpillers were hanging from.
Maybe others will give us more firm data to add to yours.
Cheers.

Caterpillar Swarm

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Square egg sacks
Location: Chico, Ca 95973
June 3, 2017 10:15 am
My buddy and I have been remodeling my mobile home and after opening up the ceiling we found small square egg sacks .when he reached his arm up in side to move something he has hundreds of bites on his arms they seem to burrow into the skin we are not sure what they are we can’t even identify them because they are so small . We have used standard house spray to no avail. Any ideas
Signature: Tony

Mysterious Rash

Dear Tony,
We do not have the necessary medical or entomological qualifications to provide a diagnosis based on this image, but that does look like a nasty rash that might need medical attention.  If this was connected to bites, we would suspect some type of mite, perhaps a species associated with rodents or birds.

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

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Glow worm?
Location: Rimrock, AZ
April 25, 2017 8:27 pm
Found this on the floor of my apartment tonight. What is it?
Signature: Laura

Bioluminescent Larva

Dear Laura,
This does not look like a typical Glowworm to us.  Glowworms or Railroad Worms are the larvae of beetles in the family Phengodidae.  This doesn’t look like a Firefly Larva from the family Lampyridae either.  It does look like a Wireworm, the larva of a Click Beetle.  There are bioluminescent Glowing Click Beetles in the genus Deilelater, but we have not been able to locate an image of the larva.  BugGuide only lists North American sightings in Texas and Florida, however, BugGuide does indicate “
D. physoderus GA-FL-AZ, Mexico.”  Though that is circumstantial, our best guess right now is that this might be the larva of a Glowing Click Beetle.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Stunging crane fly
Location: Wimberley, Texas
April 7, 2017 7:09 pm
I take crane flies out all the time. I was stung by Image 1 a few nights ago. I was so shocked bc it had NEVER happened to me or my children EVER! You can see the sting on my palm in image 2. Image 3 is another crane fly without a stinger–which is what the majority of mine look like! What’s up with that stinger? Im guessing one is male and one is female? It was quite a sting. I can still see the mark three days later.
Signature: Kristina Minor

Reportedly Stinging Crane Fly

Dear Kristina,
For years we have received reports of Crane Flies stinging individuals, and after verifying that impossibility with Dr Chen Young, we have speculated that the actual culprit is a Short-Tailed Ichneumon which does resemble a Crane Fly.  Your account is the first we have received that actually contained an image of the Crane Fly that reportedly stung (or bit) an individual, as well as an image of the irritated area on the body.  Furthermore, you seem quite familiar with Crane Flies, so we can’t help but to give your report credibility.  This does go against all we have learned of Crane Flies.  For that reason we will forward your information and images to Dr. Chen Young, a noted Crane Fly expert, to get his input.  The antennae on the individual you say resembles the majority of your Crane Flies are more developed, leading us to believe that is a male.  Stinging insects are generally female and a modified ovipositor, an organ used to lay eggs, is the stinging body part.

Site of the reported Crane Fly sting

Eric Eaton weighs in.
The “stinging” crane fly is simply a female.  I suppose a jab from her ovipositor might *feel* like a sting, but they are certainly not venomous.  The other crane fly with the bulbous rear end is a male.
Eric
author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America
http://bugeric.blogspot.com/

A non-stinging Crane Fly

That was one heck of a “jab.”  I still have the mark and I’m here to tell you it hurt for a while.  Ive attached the picture to show you what it looks like today–several days later.  When it happened, like image 2 in my previous email, it was white around the “sting” area and very red spreading from there.  That sure seems like a reaction to something?  Could they have evolved?  ;).  Getting smarter?  Wanting to survive?  LOL

Crane Fly “Sting”

Dear Kristina,
Thanks for providing a follow-up image of your “jab” after several days.  We will try to do some additional research.  According to the Crane Flies of Pennsylvania:  “The larvae are found in a wide variety of habitats, varying from strictly aquatic to terrestrial, even relatively dry soil.  Their habitats include fresh water in fast-flowing streams, marshes, springs, meadows, seeps, tree holes, algal growth or mosses on rock faces near water, organic mud and decaying vegetable debris along the shores of streams and ponds, accumulated decomposed leaves and rotting wood on the forest floor, and occasionally soil in lawn and pastures.”  Since the ovipositor is an organ the female uses while laying eggs, and since the stingers of stinging insects like wasps and bees is a modified ovipositor, we do not want to rule out the possibility that the ovipositor of a Crane Fly species that lays eggs in rotting wood might also penetrate human skin.

Entomologist and Crane Fly Specialist Dr. Chen Young Responds
Dear Daniel,
All I can say is that whatever stung Kristina was not a crane fly.  The ovipositor of female crane fly is not a defensive weapon but an egg laying apparatus, usually blunt instead of sharp at the end.
Chen Young

 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Ed. Note:  Despite the signature, this is NOT an inside job

Subject: Angry moth in northern Nevada
Location: Northern Nevada
January 10, 2017 3:56 pm
Hey asshole, if you spent as much time crafting mocking replies to your so-called “””nasty readers””” as you do researching what species the bugs are, you wouldn’t HAVE any angry clients. Take my email adress OFF my submission, I dont need more spam. I dont care what your “terms and conditions” are.
Signature: Daniel Marlos

Lettered Sphinx Moth: Deidamia inscriptum

Dear Trashface, AKA Daniel Marlos impersonator,
We were so stunned by your virulent letter with its inflammatory image that there is no question in our mind that you deserve the Nasty Reader tag, and we strongly suspect that you are deliberately vying for that coveted award.  Your efforts have paid off.  Your assessment that we spend much more time researching submissions to our site than we do “crafting mocking replies” to our “so-called “”nasty readers””” is absolutely correct.  Since your letter is only the 12th Nasty Reader we have tagged in our 15 years of running What’s That Bug?, a site currently with  23,437 unique postings, only .051% of our responses were to readers deemed by us to be nasty.  We don’t believe we have that many angry readers, and we can deal with those odds as we learned long ago that “you can’t please all the people all the time.”
That stated, we are ready to get down to identifying your Sphinx Moth from the family Sphingidae, and trust us when we say we spent a great deal more time with that task than we did crafting our first paragraph in response to you.  We could not locate your moth in the Sphingidae of Nevada, the Sphingidae of California, nor the Sphingidae of Idaho pages of Bill Oehlke’s awesome Sphingidae of the Americas site.  At that point we contacted Lepidopterist Julian Donahue who confirmed the family Sphingidae, but neither he nor Eric Eaton were able to provide a species name.  We wrote to Bill Oehlke and he provided us with the correct identification.

Bill Oehlke identifies Deidamia inscriptum
Daniel,
It is Deidamia inscriptum. I have not seen any previous reports from Nevada, but it is known for sure from eastern Texas all the way to the east coast so it may well be in Nevada and just hasn’t been documented there before. It is also possible that it was inadvertently imported into Nevada as a pupa in soil at base of some potted plant that was transported across state lines. Maybe a storm with high winds brought it to Nevada. Maybe it is a hoax. You could just indicate it is Deidamia inscriptum which is not native to Nevada. Do you have a more precise location in Nevada?
The Sphingidae are strong fliers and can get energy from flower nectar or fermenting fruit, so it might even have flown there, but it appears to be a fresh specimen, so my guess is it is a wrong location or an accidental import. Maybe it came in the soil as pupa in a potted Christmas plant.
Hope you had a great holiday season and have a great new year. Time flies.
Bill

Thanks to Bill Oehlke’s identification, we were able to locate the Lettered Sphinx on the Sphingidae of the Americas site, and we learned that it “flies from New Hampshire south to northern Florida and southern Alabama (Houston County (JS)); west to Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas. The specimen type locality is Indiana. It also flies in southern Ontario and is occasionally seen in southern Quebec” and “In Greek literature, Deidamia was one of Lycomedes’ daughters, and she bore a son, Neoptolemus, for Achilles.  The species name ‘inscriptum’ MAY ? have been chosen for the parallel ‘lines’ on the forewings, suggesting lines of script.”   Now that we have determined that you are in fact among the minute percentage of our readership that might be considered “angry clients” that we refer to as Nasty Readers, and that the identity of your moth is Deidamia inscriptum, the mystery remaining for us is how did it stray so far from its typical range?  Bill Oehlke has offered some plausible reasons, and we don’t want to discount that you may have been trying to stump us as well as to taunt us, and that perhaps this image was taken someplace other than Nevada.  We will most likely never know.  Congratulations again on being awarded with our 12th Nasty Reader designation.
P.S.  We will not be posting your “email adress” as we do NOT post email addresses, so we are not responsible for your spam.

Trashface writes back and fesses up to internet plagiarism as well as being angry and a poor writer
First of all, you need to grow a thicker skin if you get offended by mean emails.
And secondly, don’t be a smart-ass. You know very well that I meant to say “if you spent as much time identifying bugs as you do crafting mocking replies…etc.”
But clearly wits aren’t your forte. A cleverer person than you would’ve realized that I just Google image searched “bug on middle finger” to find an offensive yet hilariously topical picture to send to you. I stole the pic from Flickr, which you probably think is deplorable too. Congrats on wasting time identifying a bug that I didn’t even take a photo of.
Bugger off, bug man

Ed. Note:  Far be it from us to assume what our readers mean to write when they send in inquiries.  We take their writing for face value and we do not correct their errors.  We had no luck locating the FlickR posting where this image was allegedly pilfered as we want to request permission from the actual photographer to keep it on our site.

From Our Facebook Fans:

Jeff Lanterman
January 12 at 10:56am
Did he think that was funny? Sometimes I don’t understand people.

Sean Gaukroger
January 12 at 12:59pm
Huh? Today’s Sphinx moth brought to you by the letter “F”?

Lisa Phillips
January 12 at 2:54pm
Thank you for the identification & sorry this person is rude. I myself look forward to your posts. Keep up your fascinating work 🐛

Heather Christensen
January 12 at 3:49pm
We love your posts! I have not yet submitted any critters needing identification, but my son and I always keep our eye out. This guy is a clown, and definitely deserves the coveted “Nasty Reader” title. Keep up the great work, we love you guys. 🐌🐛🐜🐝🐞🕷🦂

Nasty Reader Award #12: Lettered Sphinx … in Nevada!!!

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination