From the monthly archives: "April 2005"

Velvet Ant and Unknown Spider
Thistle Down Velvet Ant. I’m not really partial to blondes, but this little lady caught my eye in the parking lot at work in Poway, San Diego County. Don’t worry, I resisted the urge to pet her. I know she packs a painful stinger. I’m also including an unidentified spider. He was about the same size as a full grown green lynx, which are abundant in this area. Possibly another type of lynx?
Love your site,
Bernard Davis

Hi Bernard,
Thank you so much for your great photo of the Thistledown Velvet Ant, also known as the Gray Velvet Ant, Dasymutilla gloriosa. This is a new species for our site. The wingless female does have a painful sting. She wanders about on the ground searching for sand wasp burrows. She lays her eggs there and the young Velvet Ant larva then feasts on both the larval wasp as well as the food source of paralyzed flies the female Sand Wasp provides for her young. Male Velvet Ants fly.

Ed. Note Update: (12/02/2005)
ID corrections, etc. I’ve just discovered your excellent site (directed there by “This is True”), and as a hymenopterist have a few comments: All of the “thistledown velvet ants” shown are actually Dasymutilla nocturna, not Dasymutilla gloriosa. The latter has the erect hairs somewhat sparser and more “untidy”, the body is a reddish brown, not black, and all the hairs are whitish (no black hairs), so the legs look whitish.
I hope these comments are useful.

Update: (04/02/2008) ID for insects
Hey, my name is Will, this is a list of the ID’s for the velvet ant page. image 38. Dasymutilla sackeni hope this helps a bit.

Please help to identify bugs
We have what seems like a million of these little black bugs, primarily in our finished basement. They are tiny – you can see next to the penny a comparison- but less than 1/8 inch. There are tons of them, though. We find them dead and alive. They have six legs, two antennae and a long, skinny nose/snout thing. They are semi-hard, but not so much that you can’t squeeze them. They are on the carpet (berber) and sometimes on the linoleum and concrete. Our basement is semi-underground. Meaning, if you look out the windows, the ground is a littler higher than waist level. We live in Maryland, so you can get an idea of climate/geography. Please help! We don’t know if they’re good, bad or indifferent. Thanks so much.
(Do we check your website for a reply or will you send it here? Thanks!!!)

Hi there,
We try to answer as many letters as possible. We post on the site and respond directly. You have some species of Grain Weevil, Sitophilus species. They are very small and the larvae, which do the damage in stored grains, are obese pale grubs without obvious legs.

need help identifying a bug
Help! We must have 100’s of what looks like anthills in our yard , but instead of ants coming out of them, we have these flying insects. They are good flyers and at this point, about 1 cm. Photo 2 is the whole
creature and 1 is a close up of the head. We live in Northern Virginia outside DC. Any help would be appreciated.

Hi Jerry,
We wrote to Eric Eaton for some clarification on this, and he gave us this lengthy response:
“Neato! This person is privileged to be hosting large numbers of plasterer bees, genus Colletes, family Colletidae. They are solitary, each female excavating her own burrow, which branches into several cells underground. The bees get their common name from the fact that the female bee secretes from her body a natural polymer (that’s right, PLASTIC), with which she coats the inside of each cell. She makes a nectar and pollen “soup” that pools in the bottom, and she suspends a single egg from the ceiling. The larva that hatches feeds on the soup, which is kepf fresh and mold-free in the plastic baggie! Cool, huh? Colletes are among the many, many species of native, solitary bees we have in the U.S., and they are extremely valuable in pollinating wildflowers, as well as crops like alfalfa, cranberries, blueberries, and squashes that the non-native honey bees do not pollinate as efficiently, if at all. Plasterer bees are only locally common, so your “colony” may be the only one for miles, certainly the only one in the neighborhood.
Hope that helps.

Dear Mr. Bugman,
I cannot say how much I love your site. I have three pics for you, I hope that’s ok? The first is a decent picture of a marbled orb weaver (I recognized it from your site), I just thought you might enjoy the picture. The other two are of a weird, weird worm that visited the concrete porch at my old house in Atlanta when it rained. I’m sorry about the picture quality. Can you tell that it was kind of flat, slimy, not a snake and has a weird sort of hammer-head? We’ve moved so I’m no longer freaked out about them, but what were they? I even took a little one to the local university’s entomology department and they didn’t know. We got tons of slugs and snails when it rained too, and that backyard had flooding problems.

Hi Jennifer,
Thank you for the compliment. We are very excited to get your worm photos. We have received several letters regarding the Arrow-Headed Flatworm, Bipalium kewensis, but we have never gotten a photo. According to Hogue: “This land planarian is slender and brown, with five dark longitudinal stripes; it can be large, up to 10 inches in length. The species is ‘hammerheaded’: the head is shovel-shaped (wider than body) and there are numerous minute eyes along its border. The species was discovered in 1878 in the greenhouses of Kew Gardens near Londodn, hence its scientific name. It has a wide distribution in warm climates. It needs a moist habitat and is usually encountered near outdoor water faucets, where the soil often remains wet. It original home is unknown but is possibly the Indo-Malayan region. Flatworms are hermaphroditic, and copulation involves mutual insemination; they may also reporduce asexually by fragmentation. The eggs are encapsulated and affixed to objects in damp places. These are benign creatures–they do not damage plants or cause any medical problems.” Your Marbled Orb Weaver photo is awesome.

what this bug
Attached please find a photo of a flying insect i found enjoying the spring sunshine around my woodpile. the wings are hard to see but they can fly. they crawl very fast.
can you tell what they are?
thank you
jason sagerman

Hi Jason,
This is one of the Long Horned Borer Beetles from the Family Cerambycidae. Larva bore in wood. Perhaps your specimen just emerged after spring metamorphosis aftel living several years in the wood. We wanted to try to be more specific, so we wrote to Eric Eaton who kindly replied: “The borer is a species of Neoclytus in the Cerambycidae. Not knowing anything more, I wouldn’t venture a species guess. They are wasp mimics of course, with those markings and overall leggy appearance, short antennae. Thanks for sharing. It is like Christmas every time I open one of your e-mails.”