Currently viewing the tag: "mysteries"

Subject: Velvet Ant, Wingless Butterfly?
Location: Central Nebraska
September 8, 2015 7:08 am
A colleague of mine snapped this photo in a Central Nebraska field – not sure what it is. Shows some similarities to velvet ants – but I have never seen this species if it is one and I have never seen one this “hairy”. Someone else suggested that it may be a butterfly without wings – not sure how that would happen.
Signature: T. J. Walker

Wingless Male Bumblebee

Wingless Male Bumble Bee

Dear T.J.,
We didn’t have enough time to do any research this morning, and even posting took too much time.  We did manage to write the following to Eric Eaton:  “Hi Eric,  This looks like a wingless Hymenopteran, but it doesn’t look like any Velvet Ant I have seen.  Except for the antennae, it looks vaguely moth like.  Thoughts?  It is from Nebraska.  Daniel”

Wingless Male Bumbleb  Bee
It is a male bumble bee that may not have developed wings during the pupa stage.  Been getting a few reports of this in paper wasps, first one I’ve seen for a bumble bee.

So T.J., an identification isn’t enough for us.  We want to know how to tell a male Bumble Bee from a female, and we suspect the antennae play a big part.  We are curious if not having wings will prevent this male from mating because we know Bees mate in the air.  We believe, like the Luna Moth image we just posted, that your Bumble Bee will not produce progeny.  We want to know if the winglessness is a genetic mutation, the result of some trauma to the developing Bee, or something entirely unexpected.

Daniel, thanks.
Would not have gotten to that identification.  Don’t know if I have seen a gray and white bumblebee.
I have CC’d the photographer, Ben Wheeler.
Ben, see below.
T. J. Walker

Subject: Creepy bug in my house
Location: Ontario , Canada
July 17, 2015 10:18 am
Hi . Found this bug in my apartment and it freaked me out .. Kind of looks like a fly but it didn’t have wings …
Signature: Sbro

Wingless Fly

Wingless Fly

Dear Sbro,
This is definitely a Fly and it does not have any visible wings, but we don’t believe it to be a wingless species.  We suspect it is either a mutant or that it has experienced some trauma that resulted in the loss of the wings, but we are posting your image in the event that someone with better identification skills than our own can provide a species name and a theory on the winglessness.

Subject: Morphing Pods
Location: John Bryan State Park – Yellow Springs, OH
June 7, 2015 9:06 am
I live in Ohio and was walking through the woods on May 17th. We were down by the creek and on the over hanging rocks we found these strange pods. Some looked like they could be scale bugs but as we examined more we could see the cycle unfold. The pale off white dripping pods eventually turned into so sort of flying insect. Could you shed any light on what sort of creatures they could be?
Thank you!
Signature: Curious Naturalist

Mystery Insects

Mystery Insects may be Fungus Infection

Dear Curious Naturalist,
We wish you had better quality images.  We do not know what is going on here, but it appears there are several different species of insects along with what you are calling “Morphing Pods”, and we have not been able to find anything similar looking online.  The larger white bodies insects with dark markings and wings do not look familiar to us, but hopefully one of our readers will be able to provide some information.  Can you provide any additional information regarding the size of the things in question?


Fungus Infection


Fungus Infection

I am sorry about the quality I only had my phone on my at the time. They were no bigger than a small fingernail. It was almost as if they were globs sprouting wings, then eyes and so on. At first I thought it was the early life cycle of another insect I had seen but I am an amateur and can not tell if they are similar enough. here is what I thought they MIGHT turn into.  Thank you so much for taking the time to help me with this mystery.

Golden Backed Snipe Fly

Golden Backed Snipe Fly

Thanks for the additional information.  The new image you provided is a Golden Backed Snipe Fly and we don’t believe it has any connection to the pods you observed.

Eric Eaton confirms our own suspicion
I’m thinking the “cycle” is the other way around.  It looks clear to me that these are midges that have become infected with some kind of entomopathic fungus.  This is certainly well-documented in other flies, but I haven’t seen a group effect like this before.

Thanks so much Eric,
We had pondered the possibility that this might be a fungus.  Thanks for the confirmation.

Subject: What Are These?!
Location: Southern California
April 25, 2015 3:52 am
I work at a convenience store, and OVER NIGHT something laid seseme seed-like eggs in all if our employee cups!!
Ive searched the internet looking for answers, but found nothing! Is it dangerous, poisonous? Help us!
Signature: InconvenientEmployee

What's In The Cup???

What’s In The Cup???

Dear Inconvenient Employee,
We are flummoxed by your request.  This is so strange we don’t know where to start.  Were these things found anywhere but inside the cups?  Their rapid appearance and the specificity of their location seems to suggest a disgruntled employee, or perhaps there is a prankster in your midst. 

What Left This???

What Left This???

Subject: What is this?
Location: England, uk
April 10, 2015 5:52 am
Just wondering what this is and if it’s harmless? Thank you
Signature: Kelly

Flightless Fly

What’s This Australian Soldier Fly doing in England???

Dear Kelly,
For now, we are calling this by the oxymoronic name of flightless Fly.  We are certain it is in the order Diptera, but beyond that, we cannot say at this time.  It does not appear to be the flightless Crane Fly Epidapus venaticus that we found pictured on the Earth Life Web Fly Page as the antennae are quite different from the linked drawing.
  We are going to seek some other opinions.

Chen Young provides some information
Hi Daniel,
Your doubt has its merit, this is not a crane fly and I don’t know off hand who she is.  I will need to ask my colleague about this one.  Could you provide me with the information as where this lady is from?  Please double check with your source, my friend does not believe that this fly has an European origin.

Hi Daniel,
My colleague Dr. Martin Hauser from California Department of Food and Agriculture has identified your wingless fly as a primitive soldier fly Boreoides subulatus  (family  Stratiomyidae) from Australia, and they are found only in Australia.  Perhaps your source did not understand the importance of locality of the bugs when come to identification.
I have done a little more checking around and noticed that you had a webpage about this wingless fly.  They might look slight different but I think it is caused by the camera angle and lighting effect.

Thanks so much for the response Chen.  We will try to get some verification from Kelly regarding the location of the sighting, and also if anyone in the area recently returned from Australia.

Eric Eaton Concurs
I looked this up online myself and came to the same conclusion as Martin Hauser, but did not reply because of the locality being the UK rather than Australia.
author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America

Subject: unknown bug eggs
Location: Portland, Ct.
December 7, 2014 7:23 pm
for the past few years I have discovered piles (100+) of these tiny bead sized, black, shiny, hard shelled eggs. There only found in my basement. two piles were found in my garage. One was in a drawer of a RubberMaid rolling cart and the other large pile was on a open cabinet shelf piled high in a corner. when I touched the pile they all collapsed as if they were wet at one point. the other piles were in the cellar in a large plastic storage bin and also in my storage bag for my Christmas tree.
I took a picture with a microscope app the magnified 8xs and I will also include a few in my hand for a prospective.
Signature: Susan Popielaski

Seeds, we believe

Pokeweed Seeds, we believe

Dear Susan,
These look more like seeds than bug eggs to us, but we have no explanation regarding why you found them or what they might be.
  Interestingly, we just received another nearly identical identification request from Massachusetts, so we feel compelled to research this more.  Termite Pellets also come to mind, but they look different from Termite Pellets we have seen in the past.

Seeds, we believe

Pokeweed Seeds, we believe

Thanks for replying. We don’t have termites..we did have a ant problem that we eradicated. I’ve done research as well and found that some insects eggs are seed imposters,?
The piles are sort of glued together in a type of thin transparent sac. As soon as you touch them with slight pressure they break free and the tidy pile collapses.
Keep me posted, my FB friends are as curious as I.

Some ants may stockpile seeds, but we believe that is a very remote possibility.

Update:  April 12, 2015
Thanks to a comment from Teri, we believe this is a Rodent’s stash of Pokeweed seeds which are pictured on the Ohio Perennial & Biennial Weed Guide.