Currently viewing the tag: "mysteries"

Identification Request
April 6, 2010
I sent my question on the site and not with an e-mail.
If you can help me to identify this insect I send you the photo by this e-mail.
This insect was photographied in Costa Rica in the Monteverde reserve, in the cloud forest in March 2010.
I am not a specialist of insects but I suppose it is an heteropter, family of pentatomidae. It is a jewel!!!
Thank you for your help.
Best regards,

Unknown Insect

Dear MAB,
This is a mystery, but we would rule out a member of the family Pentatomidae.  This may be a Planthopper in the superfamily Fulgoroidea.  We wish the view of the head was clearer as that could assist in the identification.  We also wouldn’t rule out a Moth, bug again, the details of the head would help.  Perhaps one of our readers who has traveled to Costa Rica, like Karl, may recognize this mystery.

Unfortunately I didn’t see anything quite like this. Your hunch was right Daniel, this is a moth. It belongs to the Tortricidae (Tortrix Moths or Leaf-rollers), a very large family usually included in the Micropepidoptera.  Most Tortrix moths are rather small and non-descript; this one is obviously a beautiful exception. I found an illustration and description of this moth in the “Biologia Centrali-Americana” by Walsingham (1905-1915) under the name Idolatteria pyrops. That still appears to be an accepted name but I could find no more recent information about it. To confuse the issue, I did find a wonderful photo under the name Pseudodatteria leopardina on the “Animals and Earth” site. I suspect this species has undergone some taxonomic revision since it was first described. Coincidentally, the photo is credited to that old friend of WTB?, Piotr Naskrecki, and it is tagged as a rare diurnal moth from Costa Rica. Perhaps Piotr can provide some additional information. Regards.

Dear Daniel,
Thank you very much for your prompt and documented answer. Thanks to Karl too!!
I did not suppose it was a moth!!
… Best regards,

Piotr Naskrecki verifies identification
Hi Daniel,
This moth is almost certainly Pseudatteria leopardina, a diurnal tortricid
from high elevation Central America

male and female eastern carpenter bees?
April 5, 2010
Wonderful site, I’ve been enjoying it for years now.
We have these bees every year in the spring, hovering mostly in one place near our shed and fence, but agressively chasing each other.
They seem to nest in the underside of the wooden rafters of the shed in little holes, new ones each year, with little piles of sawdust underneath.
My kids are terrified of them (and insist that they are bumblebees), but really they don’t seem agressive and let me walk right up to them.
This year, however, we found two dead ones. That’s never happened before. When I realized one was male and one female I rearranged them, so you could see the faces side by side. Do they kill one another? or do you think something else did them in?
Central New Jersey

Carpenter Bees: Male on Right

Hi Sara,
You are absolutely correct.  These are Eastern Carpenter Bees, and we are happy that you are showing the black faced female next to the white or yellow faced male.  We suspect some blood sucking predator may have preyed upon your bees, and we are certain they were not killed by one another.  It is kind of early in the year for a predator like the Bee Killer Robber Fly, so we really don’t have a theory on what the assassin may have been.

Update:  July 25, 2015
If the adult parasitoid Tiger Bee Fly completes metamorphosis after the adult Carpenter Bee emerges, that might explain the Eastern Carpenter Bees dead from unknown causes.

Shield Bugs apparent male and female?
April 4, 2010
These bugs where taken in October 09 on the north coast of Trinidad of the republic of Trinidad and Tobago, they were sparsely abundant feeding on a type of stinging nettle of sorts about 21/2 meters high.
Roger Neckles
Trinidad & Tobago

Bellyache Bush Jewel Bug (female on left)

Dear Roger,
First, we are not certain what Hemipteran family these True bugs belong to, but our best amateur guess would be Bordered Plant Bugs in the family Largidae or Scentless Plant Bugs in the family Rhopalidae.  Second, we are not certain if they are the same species or closely related species.  We find it difficult to believe that there would be this degree of sexual dimorphism in a species, but it is possible that there might be drastically different color variations within the species.  It is also difficult to ascertain if both individuals are winged, indicating adults and not nymphs.  We would lean toward closely related species.  We are tagging this as a Mystery of the Month so it will remain on the top of our homepage until we get some sort of response, or until it is replaced by a bigger mystery.

Dear Daniel,
Thank you for taking of your valuable time to reply to my query so speedily, I am very grateful indeed.  Why I leant towards the fact that these individuals might have been male and female was because I found a photo (attached) on the net a few weeks ago (No info was available with photo) of an identical striped one as in my photo mating with one very similar to the spotted one except the spots were barely visible if as in my photo!  But I accept your opinion and I promise when I come across them again I will be much more thorough and and observe them longer next time.  I do hope that you can get a fix on the species name etc. for me. May I send you other Bugs from time to time?  I do not have a credit card, I would like to send a donation is there another way to send or would you be content with getting pics from time to time, please advise!
Best regards – Roger

"Mystery Bugs" snatched from the internet by Roger

Thanks so much for supplying this photo snatched from the internet.  They do appear to be the same species you have photographed.  We are very conscious of copyright infringement, which is why we only post images that were submitted by the authors, but in this case, we are making an exception.  Do you recall where you found this image?  We would much rather supply a link to it than to post the image on What’s That Bug?  We recant our earlier suppositions, and we now agree that this Hemipteran either has an extremely developed sexual dimorphism, or there are multiple color morphs of the species that are not limited by sex.  We won’t know the actual answer until we identify this elusive mystery.  Generous contributions to our web site are always appreciated, but it is not a requirement for having photos and letters posted to our site.

Dear Daniel,
I am delighted that this new image has been useful in narrowing the mystery to the actual ID of this rather lovely bug.  I fully support and endorse your policy of copyright infringement, as such I have chosen to redeem our exception to the rule by searching my ‘history files’ to relocate the origins of the work.  I am pleased to say that I have been able to locate the source, and perhaps the author may be of more assistance!  The source link is; photos/riomanso/ and the authors name is RN Riomanso. I have a few more bugs on flickr you may care to ID.
Could you advise me as to how I would title this species in an article, given the fact that the species and/or genus is not clear?  In other words what is for sure?  Sorry to sound so clueless!
Cheers – Roger

Hi Roger,
Thanks for the link.  I would recommend giving this a few days to see if anyone writes in with an identification.  The best thing for you to do is to provide a comment on the posting and then you will automatically be notified if anyone supplies a comment in the future.

Karl Solves the Mystery
Hi Daniel and Roger:
The species is Agonosoma trilineatum (Scutelleridae) and, somewhat curiously, the best information about it comes from Australia, where it is called the “Bellyache Bush Jewel Bug”. The Bellyache Bush, Jatropha gossypiifolia (Euphorbiaceae) is a toxic native plant of the tropical Americas and Caribbean that has become a serious invasive pest in northern Australia. Apparently, A. trilineatum is a natural enemy of the Bellyache Bush in its natural range, and it was released in Australia as a biological control agent in 2002. According to an Australian Department of Primary Industry Agnote, “The bug inserts its mouthparts into bellyache bush fruit and injects a liquid into the seed, which dissolves it. It then sucks up the liquid. This method of feeding destroys seeds before they develop.”  The same paper also has a good image of the spotted female and striped male. Great stuff! Regards.

Dear Karl and Daniel:
Thanks awfully for putting me out of my misery, your identification and fascinating report were far more that I expected, it had me hopping in my seat with excitement reading this amazing account of the species… Wow! Wicked job guys.  They really are quite attractive Bugs aren’t they?
Very best regards – Roger
P.s. If ever either of you are ever in Trinidad and Tobago, look me up for sure, we’ll do a sortie into the sticks and find some more Bugs!

Australian bug mating in Autumn
April 3, 2010
This pair of bugs is defying my attempts to identify them, The picture was taken in Eastern Australia south of Sydney in early autumn. There were many similar mating pairs visible. The female is 1 inch long and appears to have no wings. the male is winged but much smaller.
Bruce Terry, Sydney, Australia
Southern Highlands, NSW, Australia

Unknown Sexually Dimorphic Mating Flies from Australia

Dear Bruce,
Had your photo arrived two days earlier, our first reaction would have been that someone was playing a very good April Fool’s Day joke on us and we would have searched for evidence of photoshop tampering.  Our second thought was that this might be an accidental encounter between unrelated species, but the magnification revealed penetration barely visible under the wings of the male.  Your written account of the sighting also discounts the accidental encounter between unrelated species possibility.  These are flies, and there are species of flies that are wingless, but we don’t know of a species with such pronounced sexual dimorphism in which only the female is wingless.  This may take us hours of research that we could otherwise spend answering the increasing number of letters we are beginning to receive now that spring has arrived in the northern hemisphere.  We have opted for posting without an identification, leaving it as an announcement at the top of our homepage until we get a response with a correct identification.  Karl has returned from Costa Rica and he is wonderful at internet research.  Have you any additional photos from other angles?
Back in January 2007, we posted a photo from Australia of a Wingless Fly that was identified as a female Boreoides subulatus
in the subfamily Chiromyzinae and this is probably the same subfamily, so we will be creating a new fly subcategory now that there are two postings on our site.

Dear Daniel, Thank you for your very prompt response, and for the star billing on the website!
I attach another photo (not exactly the same bug, that one had disappeared) but the same species, this time with no attendant male.
It shows more clearly the foreparts which might help with identification.
Thank you for your help with this.
Best regards
Bruce Terry

Wingless Australian Fly: subfamily Chiromyzinae

Hi again Bruce,
Thanks so much for the high quality additional photo.  This should assist any Diptera experts that view our site.

April 4, 2010
Mirth provided us with a comment, though the link did not show.  We did a web search of the information she provided, and we found this Csiro website.

Beautiful Blue Butterfly
October 7, 2009
Hello Bugman,
Today I was rummaging about my garden shed when this gorgeous specimen decided to join me. He landed on the window sill that is too far above my head for me to get a shot of the full spread wings. I was just wondering if you knew what sort of species this was, as I have not seen a photo on your site. It’s wingspan was approximately five or six inches. I tried to get closer, but then it flew away.
It is very rare that I see these brilliant blue butterflies in my area. It’s a real treat on a cloudy day.
Northwest Indiana

Morpho peliades: In Indiana???

Morpho peleides: In Indiana???

Dear Bella,
This is a tropical butterfly from Mexico (and Costa Rica and south to the rain forests of South America) in the genus Morpho, probably Morpho peleides, a common denizen of butterfly pavilions that have become so popular in zoos, botanical gardens and museums in recent years.  There is a photo of Morpho peleides posted to the Butterfly House of Missouri Botanical Gardens websiteWikipedia also has a page on the species.  We can only theorize on how this tropical species came to alight in your garden shed.  Perhaps it is a fugitive from a Butterfly Pavilion.  Perhaps you have a secret admirer who purchased a butterfly pupa and left it in your shed so that you would be transfixed by this wondrous display of romantic interest.  Perhaps you (or we) are the victim of a hoax.  This butterfly looks like it might be dead.  We wonder if perhaps you were mistaken when you saw it land on the window sill and then fly away.

Wow, Mexico? Perhaps I am thinking of another blue butterfly I’ve seen around my parts before.
However, I assure you he was alive. I’d like to think he escaped from butterfly jail and he is now en route to be reunited with his loved ones.
Though that romantic gesture sure would be nice.
Thanks for the info!

If you have seen other large blue butterflies, we would think the Pipevine Swallowtail, Female Diana Fritillary, and Red Spotted Purple to be the most likely candidates, though none are as iridescent as the Morpho.  The Great Purple Hairstreak, though iridescent, is much smaller.

Update from Eric Eaton
I’m much more curious as to why Morpho butterflies are turning up in Bella’s shed in Indiana!

Stumped two Universities so far with this amazing white spider…
February 20, 2007
Hello there:
So far two Universities have no idea what this amazing white spider is. It was found with many others in an old house my friend *was* considering buying in Easton, CT. ABOUT PHOTO: Subject’s photo was taken in Easton, CT- USA. Estimated size 2-4 inches. This photo has not been altered in any way except reduction of resolution. Oh, the spider was very much alive. Many of his brethren too. In fact, my friend could not sleep for many nights after observing all the crawling.

Hi Cary,
The reason we asked if the spider was alive is that this looks like it could be a fungus infection on one of the spiders in the Pholcus genus. Your further clarification tends to rule that out. We do not recognize your spider, nor have we ever seen a spider that resembles this. Sadly, your image does not have enough critical focus to reveal any details. We will try to search for information as well as check with some of our contributors. One of our readers wrote back to us: ” Oh gee, this is really ridiculous-looking. Sorry but no way is this thing alive, despite what Cary’s friend said. There is no real focus, so you can’t even be sure what you are looking at, but to me it looks either as you say, like a dead 2 inch daddy-long legs completely ‘bloomed out’ with a fungal growth, or perhaps more likely it is a molted exoskeleton hanging on an external wall which got coated with freezing condensation (sort of like frozen dew) in winter. I can well believe there were living daddy-long legs running around in the basement in this place, but they would have been normal color and normal appearance, not like this. “