From the monthly archives: "August 2006"

blue-copper butterfly?
Can you tell me what species this is? THANKS!

Hi Greg,
They say color is the most subjective element in art, and it is amusing that you describe this as a blue-copper butterfly. The actual common name is composed of two other colors, Red Spotted Purple. The species is Limenitis arthemis.

Trying to Identify Caterpillar found in my Ficus Hedge
Found these critters all over my ficus hedge in South Florida. The best description I can think of is that they look almost like rubber bugs. The skin is a shiny orange/brown color and the spiny things (sorry I do not know the technical term) are like thick individual strands of stubbly shiny black hair. They are pure entertainment for my 2 year old daughter. During a recent Tropical Storm I decided to try and save the little guys and bring them inside. To our delight we woke up the next day to see several of them have begun the next stage of their metamorphosis and have created bark-like cocoons suspended upside down from a branch of ficus. Can you help me identify what they are, and also is it best that I leave the cocoons inside until they hatch or should I now return them to the hedge. I do not want to disturb them any more than I already have. Please let me know. Also, what plants can I put in our garden to keep the butterflies around once the hatch?
Jodie Espendez
Pembroke Pines, Florida

Hi Jodie,
This looks like the caterpillar and chrysalis of the Gulf Fritillary, a pretty orange butterfly. The host plant is always listed as passion flower with on alternate. We can only guess that they were so hungry, the ficus seemed appealing, or, more likely, there is some passion vine growing in your ficus hedge. If you want Gulf Fritillaries, plant passiflora. In our yard, the butterflies also take nectar from lantana and cosmos.

NW Indiana Sugar Maple Borer?
From NW Indiana again, and saw this guy doing a backstroke in the pool. As I usually try to give everyone a fair shake, I rescued him and got a few quick pics before he headed off. Now I review the site and it looks like this guy may be a Sugar Maple Borer; if so was I too quick in releasing him? By your description this may be one of the more harmful beetles in an area and its discovery may be of some concern…

Hi M,
Right family, wrong species. This is a Locust Borer. Grubs bore in the wood of black locust trees and pollen and nectar feeding adults are often found on goldenrod. Adults emerge in the fall.

Help Identifying a bug
I found your site while my 4 year old daughter and I tried to identify an insect we found on our screen door in Sacramento California. I’m confidient you’ll be able to help us figure out what it is. I’m hoping to keep her interested in insects so she won’t develop a fear to bugs. By the way, she loved looking at all the beautiful insects on your site. Thanks in Advance,
Laura G

Hi Laura,
The Tree Stink Bug is one of the Predatory Stink Bugs in the genus Brochymena. Eric Eaton provided us with this clarification: “I would classify them as scavengers or opportunistic predators, though, as are many, if not most, Hemipterans, even if they are principally herbivores. I once saw two smaller milkweed bugs sharing a dead honeybee carcass! Was I shocked!…. Eric”

Beautiful spider
Greetings, and thank you for a truly wonderful site. I have attached photos of a gorgeous orbweaver who has graced my garden all season. She is BIG (the size of a sweet cherry), has an orange abdomen with white spots, a scarlet stripe up the underside, legs of alternating transparent and brown, and fine hairs all over. She takes down substantial prey – junebugs, large grasshoppers and moths, etc. Her web is small – about the size of a salad plate. She is unusual in that she only sits in the middle of her web after dark. She built a hut out of curled peony leaves, and she shelters there throughout the daylight hours and during rainstorms (doesn’t even drop into her web if she snags an insect – she waits until dusk to emerge). The hut-building behavior has me stumped, as well as her rather spectacular coloring. Can you help? Thanks!
Lynn Erickson

Hi Lynn,
This is one of the Araneus Orb Weavers. The species in this genus have variable coloration and we often have problems with exact species identification. The shelter building behavior and coloration tend to indicate either the Marbled Araneus, Araneus marmoreus, or the Shamrock Spider, Araneus trifolium.
Petoskey, Michigan

Are you still identifying bugs?
I’m not sure if you’re still identifying bugs or not, but there is a spectacular looking caterpillar that arrived on my balcony a few days ago, and I’d like to know more about it. If it helps in the identification, I live just outside Atlanta, Georgia. Normally my cat eats the bugs on the balcony (mainly roaches…thanks, kitty), but both times kitty put her paw to the back of this caterpillar, it reared up. For some reason, that made kitty leave it alone. I wondered if maybe the spines were irritating or her paw (because surely she wasn’t threatened by that). Also, I’m wondering whether I should perhaps move the caterpillar back down to where the leaves and plants are. I’m on the 3rd floor of an apartment building, and there is no caterpillar food on my balcony. Thanks for any information and advice you can offer,

Hi Krista,
This is an early instar of our featured Bug of the Month, The Hickory Horned Devil. The caterpillars molt four times before attaining their full size, the fifth instar right before pupation. Earlier instars are brown, not green. We believe this is the third instar as shown on BugGuide.