Currently viewing the tag: "mysteries"

Ed. Note:  We have never heard of a situation where Spiderlings remain together after leaving the female’s protection, and we suspect the “conga line” you witnessed was of creatures other than Spiders.  The behavior you describe is more typical of social insects like ants or immature Hemipterans.  Are you able to provide an image?

Subject: spiderlings traveling in a “conga line”
Location: Chemuyíl Pueblo, México Yucatán
January 8, 2017 10:58 am
There are many unusual bugs in the jungle here, such as spiders and scorpions that carry their babies on their backs.
I was delighted to find your site – thanks!
Can you tell me about spiderlings traveling in a “conga line”, hundreds of them? Why?
Signature: Malcolm

Tarantula Spiderling “Conga Line”

Hi again Malcolm,
Thanks for sending an image.  Our initial response to you expressed our doubt that Spiderlings would travel the way you described.  We retract our supposition.  These do indeed look like Spiders.  We will attempt to find additional internet documentation that can explain it.

Tarantula Spiderling “Conga Line”

Tina Shaddock comments on Facebook
I believe these are plausibly Brachypelma vagans spiderlings and this article holds a bit of info about what is occurring in this photo.

Ed. Note:  Here is a quote from the linked article:  “The spiderlings, which have a body length of about 2-3 mm, stay in the maternal burrow for several weeks. Little is known of this gregarious stage in this species, although spiderlings have been observed moving around the entrance of the maternal burrow, in where their mother is hunting in a sit-and-wait position. They often climb over each other but avoid contact with the mother. During daytime, the spiderlings were known to remain active and visible at the entrance of the burrow for up to one hour after the female had retreated. They were able to move easily through the web covering laid by the female over the burrow entrance (Shillington & McEwen 2006). Authors hypothesized that the silk network around the burrow provides an important chemotactic cue for orientation (Minch 1978) and juveniles probably remain in contact with this network at all times. After this gregarious period, the spiderlings disperse in the form of columns of about 100 siblings walking away from the mother’s burrow (Reichling 2000, 2003; Shillington & McEwen 2006). Shi- llington & McEwen (2006) observed that during the night of May 24 th 2003, spider- lings left the maternal burrow in three lines. Then at random intervals, one individual left the column and headed in a different direction, causing successive forks in the column. The maximum observed distance of dispersal was 9 m from the maternal burrow. Dispersal is observed in several spider species, including several species of mygalomorphae, all using silk for ballooning (Coyle 1983) or orientation (Jean- son et al. 2004). Previous reports on B. vagans mention that the spiderlings walk in line like ants (Reichling 2000), but no work has recorded the use of silk during dispersal. During their gregarious and dispersal phases the spiderlings do not show any aggressive behavior toward each other, as many spiders do (Gundermann et al. 1986; Jeanson et al. 2004).”

Thank you! That description sounds entirely likely – location, environment, and behavior. And attached is a photo of an adult found outside the house. Who would have guessed? I feel happy to understand the critters here in more depth.
For what it’s worth, I’d wager the spiderlings stay in line visually. From their non-colliding dynamics, and seeing individuals lose their place in line and orient from an inch away to rejoin.
Thanks again.


Hi Malcolm,
Thanks for sending an image of what we believe to be an adult male Tarantula.  We will be featuring your posting for a spell.

Subject: What is this blue egg-like thing?
Location: Montréal (canada)
December 12, 2016 8:34 pm
We found these near the heater in the bathroom..saw 5or 6 of them and cleaned them up then a few days later saw 2 more
Looks like they have a tail and are very blue
Is something hatching eggs and should i call an exterminator? I have 2 young kids who are a bit freaked out and so am I ! What are they???
Thank you
Signature: Rita

Decorative Blue Things

Decorative Blue Things

Dear Rita,
We are relatively confident that these blue things are decorative and man-made, and NOT insect eggs.  Did you recently pull out some holiday decorations?  Perhaps these things fell off.  Since we will be away from the office during the holidays, we are postdating your submission to go live at the end of the month.

Subject: What’s that Bug (Aquatic Fly)?
Location: South Carolina
June 28, 2016 8:50 am
We found these while doing a stream walk along an urban stream channel in the upper sand hills/lower piedmont of South Carolina. They were found clinging to the underside of the submerged cobble in the riffle sections. Any idea of what they might be? Sorry for the low quality images, but were taken with our phone.
Signature: Thanks!

Midge, we believe

Unknown Insect

We have been having a difficult time understanding why a winged insect would be submerged under a rock as this insect looks like it would not be aquatic as an adult.  It looks very much like some of the winged insects in this posting from our archives that we believe may be Midges with a Fungus Infection, also found near a stream.  We are posting your image and requesting assistance from Eric Eaton and our readership.  We are further confused because your insect appears to have two pairs of wings, and a Midge would have only one set of wings.

Update:  June 30, 2016
Eric Eaton is also unable to provide an identification, but he does agree that it appears to have two pairs of wings, which would eliminate it being a Midge.

Entomologist Julian Donahue responds to our request:
I’m stumped. Body shape looks like a primitive fly (with that small head and short abdomen), but the venation looks more like that of a primitive moth.
I agree that it appears to have two pairs of wings. It doesn’t look like any aquatic insect I know, nor does the venation agree with any aquatic insect I know.
It may be a teneral (freshly-emerged) specimen, and there’s always a chance that it’s a terrestrial insect that got washed into the stream.
Let me know what you find out about this one.

Update:  July 1, 2016
In addition to the above possible classifications, we are reminded of some Sawflies regarding the general appearance of this critter.  There are many Sawfly images on BugGuide, but Sawflies are NOT aquatic.

Julian Donahue provides tentative identification
On second thought, I’m going to go with my initial gut reaction: a black fly (Simuliidae). Habitat is perfect, body shape fits, and they have broad wings that can fold over giving the appearance of two pairs. It still seems to have too many veins in the wings, but this could be the result of some sort of duplication in the pupa or upon emerging. I still think it’s a teneral specimen, which may account for the odd appearance of the wings.

Ed. Note:  Thanks to Julian Donahue’s identification, we are linking to the Black Fly page on BugGuide where they are described as:  “black to various shades of gray or yellow; thorax shiny, strongly convex, giving a humpbacked, gnat-like appearance; wings clear, broad, without hairs or scales; heavy veins near anterior wing margin, weak veins posteriorly; small head with large round eyes and short 11-segmented antennae; ocelli lacking.”  The habitat is listed as:  “larvae develop in running water of all types, from the smallest seepages and streams to the largest rivers and waterfalls; they attach themselves to underwater rocks and other objects by means of small hooklets in a sucker-like disc at the tip of the abdomen.”  This BugGuide remark also may be of interest to our readers:  “Black flies attack most severely about sunrise and at sunset — either massively and viciously or in such small numbers that they are scarcely noticeable. They bite painlessly so that you may not be aware of having been attacked until small droplets of blood start oozing from your skin. Black flies often crawl into your hairline or through openings in your clothes before they bite you. Therefore, the bites are usually behind your ears, around your neck and beltline, and on the lower parts of your legs. A typical bite consists of a round, pink, itchy swollen area, with a droplet of fresh or dried blood at the center. When the blood is rubbed away, a minute subcutaneous hemorrhage is visible. This hemorrhage and the surrounding pink area become diffuse and larger, and then disappear within a few days. Itching may continue intermittently for weeks, whenever the bitten area is rubbed. Scratching may cause severe secondary skin infections. Toxins injected during an extended severe attack can cause a general illness sometimes called black-fly fever, characterized by headache, fever, nausea, and swollen, painful neck glands. Attacks occur throughout late spring and early summer (sometimes throughout the summer). (Fredeen 1973)(5)  often ranked third worldwide among arthropods in importance as disease vectors, but only ~10-20% of the world’s spp. are pests of humans/livestock.”


Subject: Bee? Fly? Wasp? Insect?
Location: Adairsville, Georgia, USA
May 30, 2016 4:43 am
These things with a pointy mouth like to float in my swimming pool for several minutes then fly off. I can approach them and touch them. Other than flapping their wings a little bit, they keep on floating. What are they? Can they bite or sting me? We’ve had this pool since 2009 and last year was the first time these showed up. There were only a couple last year at a time. This year there’s maybe a dozen in the pool at one time.
Signature: Darla

Bee Fly

Bee Fly

Dear Darla,
This is a harmless Bee Fly in the family Bombyliidae, a group of pollinating insects.  They do not bite nor sting.  We are curious what is attracting them to your pool.  This behavior does not seem normal, and we are guessing they are accidentally flying into the pool after visiting blossoms nearby.  We do not believe they are purposely taking a dip.  Because we will be out of the office for a spell in June, we are postdating your submission to go live to our site during our absence.

I’m very glad to hear this!  Our pool is an above ground pool in Adairsville, GA.  We were out there again yesterday and about 1:00 PM, they started stopping by again.  They float in the water for several minutes then fly away.  If we touch them, they flap their wings a little but go back to floating.  I cupped my hand under a couple of them and let the water roll off gently leaving the Bee Fly on my hand.  They would then fly off quickly.  Our pool has chlorine in it.  They were still there when we got out of the pool about 4:00 PM.  They come and go throughout the day.  If you figure out why they are coming to the pool, I’d love to know.  Sounds like it could be interesting!
Thank you,
Darla Williams

Subject: Some bug love
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
April 1, 2016 7:51 pm
Thought you might get a kick out of a very odd pairing discovered where I work. A male common Morpho (Morpho peleides) mating with a female atlas moth (Attacus atlas). Photographed at Butterfly Wonderland in Scottsdale, Arizona. I know it’s April Fools day but the pictures are not “photo shopped”. (For some reason the Commodors song “She’s a Brick House” keeps running through my head). Of course they are not genetically compatible but it’s fun to imagine what offspring would look like……
Signature: Butterfly wrangler

Morpho mating with Atlas Moth!!!

Morpho mating with Atlas Moth!!!

Dear Butterfly Wrangler,
We cannot imagine what would have spawned this Unnatural Selection.  Though it is not photoshopped, can you also state there was no human intervention involved?  Forgive us for being suspicious, but we are frequently targeted with pranks and hoaxes.

Unnatural Selection

Unnatural Selection

Lepidopterist Julian Donahue comments
Spring is in the air!

Interoffice Communication
Hey Max, I sent a couple of photos of the moth/Morpho pairing to “what’s that bug?” Web site . Their response is below.
If this wasn’t an elaborate April Fools joke would you like to respond to the email below to assure them the pairing was not manipulated?  (If this was a joke it was a good one!) If you would rather be anonymous and not email them I’ll understand. If you don’t mind answering them, I think you mentioned seeing a different pair of inter-species breeding on the same Palm. They may be interested in what those species were as well.
Let me know. ?
Paula Swanson
Assistant Curator
Butterfly Wonderland

A second substantiation
Dear Daniel,
There was no manipulation in the Atlas-Morpho mating. It is actually the second time I have seen this. See attached photo from May 2015( which also has a second morpho trying to squeeze in). The only thing I did, was after the photos were taken I used my tweezers to gently move the wings to see if the genitals were actually in union, which they were. I have another photo of an Atlas mating with a Mormon, but I can’t find it. I will look for it when I get to work later.
Max B. Shure
Butterfly Curator
Butterfly Wonderland

Documentation of another Morpho Butterfly and Atlas Moth pairing

Documentation of another Morpho Butterfly and Atlas Moth pairing

Thanks so much for the follow-up Max.  This is so fascinating.  We wonder if perhaps there is some similarity in the pheromones released by the two species.  Since they occur naturally on different continents, they would not normally interact with one another, but captivity in the Butterfly Wonderland has brought together two species that would never naturally interact with one another.

Subject: Packing the Garage
Location: Arizona
October 27, 2015 10:27 pm
I was packing the garage and saw this on the ground I was kinda scared of it and assumed it was a bad bug like a cockroach sac or something and squished it and was very confused to have green liquid come out. I don’t think there was anything in it so I am worried about what it was.
Signature: Scared of these things

Moth Pupa

Moth Pupa

This is a squashed Moth pupa.

Thank you for responding. So that is common for them to have green liquid on the inside?

When a caterpillar undergoes metamorphosis and enters the pupal stage, the interior organs break down into what scientists refer to as “soup” and here is the explanation from Scientific American:  “But what does that radical transformation entail? How does a caterpillar rearrange itself into a butterfly? What happens inside a chrysalis or cocoon?  First, the caterpillar digests itself, releasing enzymes to dissolve all of its tissues. If you were to cut open a cocoon or chrysalis at just the right time, caterpillar soup would ooze out. But the contents of the pupa are not entirely an amorphous mess. Certain highly organized groups of cells known as imaginal discs survive the digestive process. ”