From the monthly archives: "February 2010"

Black, flightless little jumping fly with strong back legs
February 27, 2010
I have been discovering these black little bugs (1/4″ long) on our upstairs window (inside). They have heads and antenna like bees, small wings, black bodies, strong rear legs and don’t seem to want to fly. They crawl and jump with their strong rear legs (note the red muscular part). They seem to prefer hanging out on the white, vinyl part of the window. They continue to appear on this same window every so many days. I don’t know where they come from and what they are.
We live in Seattle, Washinton

Chalcid Wasps

Hi Doon,
IN our opinion, these are Small Carpenter Bees in the genus Ceratina, which is pictured on BugGuide.  They may be emerging from an indoor nest, though we are not certain if these bees nest in treated wood.  We are contacting Eric Eaton request his opinion.

Hi there,
Thanks for your prompt reply.
Carpenter Bees?!? That would be bad news, especially if they are coming into the house from a nest in the wall…wouldn’t it? I know they are not mean, but they do do damage.
I took a look at the pictures and see a definite similarity, but my little guys have these strong back legs. Did you notice the reddish bulging bit on their legs? They all have them and use them to hop, it seems.
What else could they be?
Looking forward to what Eric has to say.
Thanks, guys. What an awesome service!

Chalcid Wasp

Eric Eaton makes a correction
Hi, Daniel:
Those are not small carpenter bees.  They are parasitic wasps in the family Chalcididae, as confirmed by their swollen hind femora (“thighs”), among other characters.  They may have emerged from a cocoon or something.

I saw the update. Thanks!
I guess the real question is, how are they getting into my house and what are they doing there?

Hi again Doon,
There have been two letters from yesterday that have needed a bit more attention from us today, and yours is one. Regarding wasps in the family Chalcididae, according to BugGuide: “Most are parasites of other insects, mostly of eggs or larvae
” and “They are used as pest controls because they parasitize mainly the orders that contain many common pests: Lepidoptera, Diptera, Coleoptera and Homoptera.”  Identifying the exact species is a bit beyond our capabilities, but one of our readers might be able to supply you with a response.  We would recommend that you provide a comment to our posting, and then you will be notified automatically if an expert in the Chalcids can provide you with an accurate identification in the future.  Speaking more generally, we would surmise that an insect (or insects) that was (were) parasitized by the ancestor of your generation of Chalcids entered the home and died.  Once their life cycle was completed within the body of the host species, your generation emerged and will continue to seek out the hosts if there are any remaining.  Most species that parasitize others are species specific.  The orders that were mentioned as common hosts are Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), Diptera (flies), Coleoptera (beetles) and Homoptera (true bugs and relatives) and each of those orders have individuals that often enter homes.  We would also like there to be a resolution to this mystery.  We suspect your current generation of adults entered your home as larvae, transported by a host insect that had been parasitized.  The adults emerged from the corpse and are being attracted to the light of the window in an attempt to get outside if there are no further hosts to parasitize.

Hi folks,
Finally, I think I have discovered the mysterious source of my Chalcid friends!
I was up in the attic this morning. We had a dead rat in one of the traps. All around the carcass of the rat were these brown little pupae. After doing some research, I discovered that these were fly pupae. Then, on one site, I came across a photo of a chaclid wasp (or parasite fly) depositing an egg into a fly pupa:
And here is the likely story: rat comes in and gets caught in the trap, dies. As it decomposed, flies lured to the stench flew in through the roof vents in the attic and did what they do best. Later, after the fly maggots went into their pupal stage, the chalcid wasps came and did what they do best.
Mystery solved!
Thanks for your help!

Red-chilli like larva
February 28, 2010
The person who took this photo thinks it is a beetle larva.
West Bengal, India

Goat Moth Larva, we believe

Dear Suhas,
There are not enough anatomical features visible in this photo for us to conclusively categorize this larva.  We don’t believe it is a caterpillar or a beetle grub.  We tend to favor it being a Sawfly Larva.  Sawflies are related to bees and wasps, and many species have larvae that resemble caterpillars.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to assist in a species identification.

Dear Daniel
Thanks a lot for your prompt reply. I will certainly gather more details from the photographer and send it to you soon.

Update:  July 13, 2018
A special thanks to Gustaf Fredell who sent in a comment identifying this as a Goat Moth Larva in the family Cossidae and providing this link to Alamy.

What’s That Bug?
February 28, 2010
Found this on the side of the house approximately 2 inches in length was using the long protrusion from it’s rear to poke into the little holes of the brick. Notice the stinger on it’s rear also.
Defiance, Ohio

Pigeon Horntail

Dear KG,
This is a Pigeon Horntail, a type of Wood Wasp, and its behavior is highly unusual.  The protrusion is the female’s ovipositor, and she uses it to deposit eggs beneath the bark of diseased, dead or cut wood, so there is no real reason for her to be poking around your bricks.  Even more unusual is finding her in the dead of winter when there is considerable snow on the ground in Defiance, Ohio.

Ahhhh thank you very much sir, i took this photo last summer was just looking through my pics and wondered if there was a site that could tell me what this was (good name for your site btw) : ) I have a photo of another bug with a long nose i don’t know what it is, if you’re interested if not i won’t bug you. : )

Antigua Caterpillar
February 28, 2010
We were in Antigua Feb2010 and saw several of these on a shrub. They were as big around as a thumb and about 6 inches long. We are curious to know what the moth or butterfly looks like after it finishes it’s cycle. Also do all caterpillars turn into moths or butterflies?
A&L Smith

Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear A&L Smith,
This striped caterpillar is the larva of a Tetrio Sphinx, Pseudosphinx tetrio, a common species in the tropical Americas, and it is also reported from Florida.  You can see photos of the adult moth on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.  All caterpillars become butterflies or moths, except those that are parasitized by wasps and flies and thus cannot complete their life cycle.  There are caterpillar-like creatures, including Sawflies, and they may be easily confused with the larvae of butterflies and moths.

blue mystery bug from peru
February 27, 2010
My son spotted this bug while we were out on a nature walk. It is a bright blue. While I’ve spent several hours searching your site for something similar, all I’ve found is the masked hunter (but I doubt it is this because there was absolutely nothing this color anywhere near where we were… no blue carpet :). It is similar in color to the blue-green citrus weevil, but it’s body doesn’t look like it as it’s rather bumpy. Just thought it’d be fun to identify it, though I didn’t imagine it would be this hard… 🙂
He was about 2cm in length and was crossing a dirt road near a farm of coconut trees. We live in ceja de selva (which is on the eastern slopes of the Andes, above true rainforest level).
my images are here:
and here:
amy in peru
tarapoto, peru

Unknown Weevil

Hi Amy,
This is a Weevil.  Alas, we haven’t the time to research the species at the moment, but perhaps one of our readers will be able to identify the species.

thank you for getting back to me!  I have a request for a name in case it hasn’t been officially recognized…
my kids would like to call it the ‘turquoise blue tuttle beetle’… of course now that we know that it’s a weevil…
maybe it should be the ‘not-at-all-evil-blue-tuttle-weevil’ 🙂
anyway, thanks again 🙂
amy in peru

Hi again Amy,
You should post a comment to this posting to be informed automatically in the future of an identification.

Unknown caterpillar, St Thomas, Virgin Islands
February 27, 2010
Got a few photos of this guy/gal near a mangrove lagoon area on St Thomas, VI. I don’t remember the time of year. From what I recall it was on or near a potted allamamda, if that helps at all… I’ve only seen one of these in the more than two years I’ve lived here, and nobody seems to be familiar with them. The frangiapani caterpillar on the other hand, is in full force at the moment…
St Thomas, Virgin Islands, Caribbean

Ello Sphinx Caterpillar, probably

Hi Frank,
This is not the ideal angle of view to provide an identification, but we are nearly certain this is the caterpillar of an Ello Sphinx, Erinnyis ello which is pictured on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.  We tried to access the Virgin Islands section of the site, which indicates the Sphingidae or Sphinx Moth species that are found in the nations of the Carribean, but that page was unavailable.  We did find the Ello Sphinx listed on the Dominican Republic page.  Most Sphinx Moth Caterpillars possess a caudal horn, owing to the common name Hornworm, but the Ello Sphinx Caterpillar loses its horn before reaching the final caterpillar instar.  We are copying Bill Oehlke on this response to see if he can confirm this identification, and also because he is compiling statistics on species distribution.  He may also be able to correct the accessibility of the Virgin Islands page of his website.

Bill Oehlke agrees
It is one of the Erinnyis species, and I also favour ello, but it could also be alope.
I have not yet compiled a list for Virgin Islands, but I suspect it would be same as what I have for Puerto Rico.
I will copy and paste Puerto Rico list and name it Virgin Islands, and will do some quick searches to see if I can find anything more scientific.
Bill Oehlke

Ello Sphinx Caterpillar

Wow, thanks to both you and Bill for the quick response.  Yes, the lack of horn back there had been one of the things throwing me off…  I’ll have to dig around through my photos and see if I can find the other shots I took that day.   There’s certainly no lack of interesting insects down here.  My favorite was the 9 inch walking stick bug that I found one day, because it was sitting right on my backpack that I set down for just a minute on a hike over on St John.  When I tried to move it so I could take my bag, it reared up its back end to mimic a scorpion pose.
Well, thanks again, have a good one…
Here’s a couple more shots.  None from the top unfortunately…

Ello Sphinx Caterpillar