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

Subject:  Karner blue butterfly
Geographic location of the bug:  Albany Pine Bush, Albany, NY
Date: 05/27/2020
Time: 05:43 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi What’s that Bug!
Here’s a mystery for you. I’m quite certain this is a Karner blue butterfly, Plebejus melissa samuelis. You may be aware that our Albany Pine Bush in upstate New York is one of the few habitats this endangered subspecies can thrive, since its larvae feed only on the wild blue lupine that grows here. I saw quite a few Karner blues out among the lupines on this visit! None of our other local blues have that much orange along the wing, so it has to be a Karner.
The mystery: what the heck is going on with its abdomen? What is that orange stuff at the end? I thought it might be laying an egg, but as far as I can tell their eggs are light gray or white, not orange. And anyway it’s not on a lupine–I think the plant is a raspberry or blackberry. It stayed in this position for a couple of minutes before fluttering off, and I didn’t realize there was anything weird until I looked at the photos.
I’ll also include a better image of a different individual for your enjoyment. This little guy seemed to be more interested in lapping up my sweat than anything else–I tried to coax it onto a lupine, but it wouldn’t leave!
How you want your letter signed:  Susan B.

Male Karner Blue exposing his genitalia

Dear Susan,
Though we are quite excited to post your Karner Blue images, we will start with the mystery.  We don’t know what that is, but we suspect it is not a good thing.  We suspect this might be evidence of parasitism, possibly Dipteran, meaning a type of fly.  Though we don’t often site Wikipedia, it does provide this information “A tachinid fly,
Aplomya theclarum, has also been listed as a Karner blue butterfly parasite.”*  We will attempt to get a second opinion on this matter.  Meanwhile, we really are thrilled with your images of Karner Blues.  Not only was it described by one of Daniel’s favorite writers, Vladimir Nabokov, it is a new species for our site that currently contains over postings. 

Karner Blue

*Haack, Robert A. (1993). “The endangered Karner blue butterfly (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae): biology, management considerations, and data gaps”. In Gillespie, Andrew R.; Parker, George R.; Pope, Phillip E. (eds.). Proceedings, 9th central hardwood forest conference; 1993 March 8–10; West Lafayette, IN. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-161. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. pp. 83–100.

Thank you so much for your reply! I was pretty excited to spot so many Karner blues that day—usually I don’t get out to the Pine Bush until later in the year, when they are scarcer. I’ll be going back early in the morning to see if I can catch them basking with their wings open.
That’s a good thought that the orange mass may be parasites. I hadn’t even considered that it could be somebody else’s eggs. I’ve sent the image along to the staff at the Albany Pine Bush to see if they can identify it for sure, and also so that they can document it, since they monitor all the happenings with the wildlife there.
Susan B.
Karner blue update—I heard back from the entomologist at the Albany Pine Bush regarding the weird orange mass on my Karner blue butterfly. Here’s her response (with her permission to share):
“Hi Susan,
Thanks for sending along the images! I have to tell you, what you are seeing there at the end of the abdomen is rated PG-13. What you captured is the genitalia of a male karner. They don’t usually flash them like that, it is unusual to see as they are usually kept internally until mating. An interesting thing to document, for sure! Thanks again for sharing.
Best,
Dillon”
What a relief to hear that I was only witnessing a bit of lepidopteran exhibitionism, and not a parasite infestation (fascinating though that would be)!
-Susan B.

Thanks for the fascinating update Susan.  It is interesting that Nabokov classified many of the Blues using a theoretical taxonomy that he devised after dissecting the genitalia of museum specimens.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  some sort of scorpion
Geographic location of the bug:  akureyri, iceland
Date: 02/15/2020
Time: 05:41 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  this scorpion was found in akureyri iceland, pretty far from home im guessing, do you know what kind of scorpion it is and if its dangerous?
How you want your letter signed:  icelandic scorpion

Scorpion, from Iceland!!!

Your query leaves many questions unanswered.  It is currently winter in Iceland and we imagine it is quite cold right now.  You did not indicate if this Scorpion was discovered this week, last month or during the summer.  You did not indicate where it was found other than what we have learned is a city in northern Iceland called Akureyri.  Was it found indoors or outdoors?  Was it found in a garden or someplace more wild where there are hot springs that might explain how a Scorpion can survive in Iceland in the winter?  We can’t help but to ponder if this an escaped pet or some symptom of extreme global warming?  Though it is not the ideal citation, we are very amused with this quote from the blog Gagleg Maltaka which states:  “And now it’s time for one of my favorite things ever– today’s word is sporðdreki, the Icelandic word for scorpion. I’ve been fascinated with scorpions for a long time now, and have been keeping select species in captivity since my freshman year of college. If everything goes as planned, one day I will conduct independent research on their behavior/evolution and eventually become the scorpion guy. But enough about that. It’s interesting that there is a native Icelandic word for “scorpion” to begin with, as scorpions are not found in Iceland or anywhere remotely near the Arctic Circle for that matter.”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Looks like string but moves
Geographic location of the bug:  Tampa
Date: 08/15/2019
Time: 11:20 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I am attaching a picture but I also have videos I have no idea what this is I thought I was losing my mind when I saw it move
How you want your letter signed:  Debbie

String That Moves

Dear Debbie,
We prefer not to weigh in on the state of your mind, but this looks to us to be a string that moved.  The object on the end of the toothpick appears to be of fibrous nature, possible plant or animal fibers, though we would not rule out it might be synthetic.  Light weight fibers will stir with the slightest breeze.

Update:  August 24, 2019
Thank you so much I Thought it look like that but it seem to move I’m thinking maybe it was static electricity or some airflow thank you for your response I appreciate it

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  I’m resending bald-face hornet girdling gridwork on bark.
Geographic location of the bug:  Tonasket WA
Date: 06/27/2019
Time: 08:11 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I sent this about a week ago and got the confirmation e-mail and I realize you can’t post everything. I did kinda wonder if the picture came thru as I’m on Windows 7 and I’ve had problems with the upload before. So, just checking. I was told BF hornets did it. I thought, Makes sense, thy use the bark to make their paper nests. Then I looked it up! I read they do it to make the sap run and then they eat it! They are “vegan?” and only gather insects and B-B-Q (haha) to provision their babies. Apparently they can girdle a tree, but this pattern leaves bark and cambium to continue the sap flow. Can you verify this behavior? Or if something else did, do you know who? I don’t think it’s our red-naped sapsucker, they leave a grid work of little round drilled holes, and they’re the only sapsuckers we have. Thanks.
How you want your letter signed:  Cathy

Did Hornets damage this tree???

Dear Cathy,
We cannot confirm that Hornets damaged this tree, but if your theory is correct, they should revisit the site to feed.  We have images on our site of European Hornets (introduced to eastern North America) stripping the bark off of lilac bushes.  We will attempt further research into this matter.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Cicadas being decapitated
Geographic location of the bug:  Western Pennsylvania
Date: 05/25/2019
Time: 09:10 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I have found several dozen cicada decapitated very close to their malted skins. What is causing the decapitation?
* Note I lined the bodies up in pic…
How you want your letter signed:  Dirk Rupert

Decapitated Cicadas

Dear Dirk,
Your image is the first one we are posting this year of the emergence of the Brood VIII, the population of Periodical Cicadas, incorrectly called 17 Year Locusts, which has just begun to emerge in western Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio and West Virginia according to Cicada Mania.  For years we have been posting images of decapitated Cicada heads, but our images have been of the heads left behind when a predator has eaten the body.  Your case is different because the perpetrator did not eat the nutritious body, so it wasn’t hungry.  We suspect a house cat might be responsible for your mystery.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Subject:  What are these Assassin Bug nymphs doing?
Geographic location of the bug:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
Date: 04/20/2018
Time: 04:20 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  That’s definitive, but what are they doing rolling around those sacks, and some of the sacks have been hung up?
Thanks for identifying.
How do you want your letter signed:  Mel Frank

Immature Leaf Footed Bugs with “Pod”

Ed. Note:  We met recently with noted author Mel Frank (see Amazon) and we correctly identified what he thought were Assassin Bug nymphs found on Cannabis as Leaf Footed Bug nymphs, probably in the genus Leptoglossus, based on BugGuide images as well as images from our own archives, and he wrote back wondering about this unusual activity.

“Pods” hung by immature Leaf Footed Bugs

Hi again Mel,
As we stated earlier, these Leaf Footed Bug nymphs are phytophagous, meaning they feed on plants.  Like other members of the True Bug suborder Heteroptera, they have mouths designed to pierce and suck fluids, and members of this genus are frequently found on plants like tomatoes, pomegranate and citrus, and they damage fruit.  BugGuide notes:  “some are extremely polyphagous” indicating that they will feed from many types of plants.  Some typically plant feeding True Bugs are known to feed on dead and dying insects, including members of their own species, but that is opportunistic behavior and not true predatory behavior.  What you witnessed and observed over time, the nymphs “rolling around those sacks” and then hanging them up, sounds like the behavior of a predator storing food the way spiders wrap up prey with silk.  We wonder, perhaps, if while feeding by sucking the fluids from your
Cannabis, these Leaf Footed Bugs ingested cannabinoids resulting in altered “mindbending” behavior similar to experiments on a Spider’s ability to spin a web after exposure to drugs (see Priceonomics).  We have not clue at this time exactly what is in that sack these nymphs were rolling around, or why they were rolling them around and hanging them up.  It is a mystery.  We will contact Eric Eaton to see if he knows anything about this type of behavior in Leaf Footed Bugs from the family Coreidae.  We can’t help but be reminded of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and the aliens using pods to generate simulacra of humans. 

Update April 25, 2018:  Eric Eaton provides information.
Daniel:
So the plant they are on is marijuana?  In any event, yes, these are Leptoglossus nymphs, which typically feed on seeds or seed pods, and that is what the “sacs” are.  I’m a bit perplexed by the “webbing” around them.  The nymphs may be maneuvering the seeds to find a good place to pierce them so they can suck out the juicy contents.
Eric
author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America
http://bugeric.blogspot.com/

The mystery is the sacs. The only plant nearby was the pomegranate tree with lots of pomegranates. Also, some of the sacs have been hung.
Thanks for clearing this up.

Pomegranate is one of the primary host plants for Leaf Footed Bugs in the Los Angeles area.  You frequently find numerous individuals feeding on a single pomegranate.  The “sacs” look somewhat like unripe pomegranate seeds.
Update:  August 25, 2018
Daniel: You told me that these are leaf-footed bug. I’ve found near identical images online that id them as leaf-footed, but also have found images that are identified as assassin bug nymphs.

What makes me think these might be assassin bugs is the “sacks” that were hung nearby and that the bugs were involved with them.
Anyway, I am not the only one confused as clearly people are identifying them as one or the other and I can’t see the differences in the images that are posted.
Mel Frank

Mystery of Leaf Footed Bugs with “pods”

Hi again Mel,
We are sticking with immature Leaf Footed Bugs, probably genus Leptoglossus.  Can you please provide the links?
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination