From the monthly archives: "April 2017"

Subject: Gross bug
Location: Kutztown PA
April 27, 2017 1:25 pm
Can you help me identify this thing? It was crawling around the top of my garage door. It disappeared while I was looking to identify it.
Signature: Nora

HIckory Borer

OK Nora,
We are going to have to disagree with you.  This Hickory Borer is a beautiful beetle, and it is a product of natural selection and survival.  The Hickory Borer is harmless, though its strong mandibles might cause a pinch, but its bold markings mimic those of a stinging Yellowjacket for protection.  We suspect it emerged from a nearby wood pile or dead tree.

Hickory Borer

Subject: Suspected phoresy on squash bug actually battle casualty?
Location: Pelham, Ontario, Canada
April 28, 2017 7:00 am
Hi! Love the site – long time viewer and occasional contributor!
I was at a golf club and spotted a true bug, which I think may be a squash bug. Sorry for the blurry photo — can you help with ID? I supplied a second shot of the head, which is what made me think it was a squash bug – it is similar to BugGuide photos.
After looking at my photo on my camera’s screen, I noticed something attached to the bug’s antenna. I was excited at first because I like pseudoscorpions and I thought I might be seeing pseudoscorpion phoresy, like in some other excellent photos on your website. I flipped my lens around to attempt some reverse macro shots and although those were blurry too I did manage to get a few somewhat in focus.. and it looks like what I thought was phoresy was actually the results from a battle between the squash bug and some ants. There’s an ant — it looks like it could be quite dead, although it might just be quite tenacious — firmly affixed to the antenna of the squash bug. In one of the photos you can clearly see the ant’s sharp mandible sliced into the antenna.
Anyway, I thought you might like the story and the photos. Love the site!
Signature: Brad

Squash Bug

Dear Brad,
Thanks so much for the compliment.  We agree, based on comparison with this BugGuide image, that you found a Squash Bug in the genus
Anasa.  We do not believe the Ant on the antenna can be classified as phoresy which is defined on Amateur Entomologists Society as “Phoresy is the act of ‘hitching a lift’ on another organism. As invertebrates are small and not all have wings many travel comparatively long distances by using other, more mobile, organisms. …  Another good example is that of pseudoscorpions are small arachnids that resemble scorpions without the long tail and sting. When a flying insect lands nearby the pseudoscorpions grab hold of the larger insect using their pincers. When the insect flies to a new location they carry the pseudoscorpion with them.”  Since Ants are social creatures that depend upon being able to find their way back to the colony, phoresy would have no advantage to the Ant.  We agree with your “battle” supposition, so we will tag this as Food Chain.  We noticed the spines on the thorax of the Ant, and we wonder if it might be an Acrobat Ant in the genus Crematogaster which is pictured on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “workers and males 2.5-3.5mm.”  Bugs in the News provides some very interesting information on Acrobat Ants preying upon plant-feeding insects to help protect Homopteran insects they are farming:  “Their food, throughout the year, consists primarily of the honeydew secretions of homopteran insects. In fact, they are well-known for farming colonies of such insects as a means of providing their members with a ready supply of the latter’s sweet liquid exudations.
As I mention in an earlier article on acrobat ants found in Temple, Texas, most gardeners are dismayed to find evidence of homopteran incursions onto their  garden plants because, once established, the damage done by these organisms can be extensive and difficult to control. Since acrobat ants work hard to disperse scale, aphids, and mealybugs, one might think the first thing a good gardener should do is to control these ants. Again, first impressions are not always best, as the following demonstrates:  ‘The cultivation of Homoptera by ants is usually considered detrimental to plants, but any damage may be offset by the ants’ predation on defoliators. Another factor that may contribute to the stability of the ant-Homoptera-plant relationship is the ability of some homopterans to withdreaw large quantities of sap without seriously injuring trees, thereby allowing them to feed on the same plant year after year (Bradley and Hinks 1968). A portion of the sap sustains the aphids, but most is passed on as honeydew to the ants. In return, the ants protect the aphids and the trees from their enemies.’ (Hansen and Klotz 2005).

Ant on Squash Bug antenna, probably NOT phoresy

Squash Bug Head

Subject: It’s black with red on its neck
Location: AZ Glendale
April 30, 2017 2:10 pm
I found this outside when searching for my forensic project finding bugs. Anyway I caught it and would like to keep it alive so I don’t kill it before letting it go back t I have no idea what it is or what it eatsSignature: Quinn

Western GrapeLeaf Skleletonizer

Dear Quinn,
Though the red collar is not evident in your image, it helped further specify the identification of this Western GrapeLeaf Skeletonizer,
Harrisina metallica, a moth with Caterpillars that are an agricultural pest on grape vines.  This BugGuide image illustrates the red collar and according to BugGuide:  “Adult: body and wings black with bluish or greenish tint; collar dull orange or red (except in form ‘brillians’ which has black collar)” and “the all-black ‘brillians’ form was formerly considered a separate species.”

Subject: Little green spider
Location: New Braunfels, TX
April 27, 2017 12:11 pm
Please let us know what kind of spider this is. We live in New Braunfels, TX.
Signature: Thank you, Roxann

Green Crab Spider

Dear Roxann,
We believe we have identified this green Crab Spider as
Misumessus oblongus, not because of the Insect Identification for the Casual Observer site which does not allow use or duplication of their content without permission, but because of this image on BugGuide.

Subject: Is this an ichneumon wasp?
Location: Austin, TX
April 30, 2017 8:49 am
What is this bug? Finding them inside the house this spring trying to get out…hanging around the windows…do they sting/bite? Any house structure damage concerns?
Signature: Stephen

Grass Carrying Wasp

Dear Stephen,
Based on BugGuide images, we are pretty confident that this is a Grass Carrying Wasp,
Isodontia mexicana.  According to BugGuide:  “Taken from the Internet Reference below (Penn State): The adult wasps emerge from their cocoons in early summer, mate, and the females locate a suitable nest site. She collects blades of grass and grass and hay stems to line the nest cavity. The wasp can be seen flying through the air with the blades trailing beneath her. She lands at the hole and enters, pulling the blade in behind her. After the nest is prepared, she hunts for tree crickets (i.e., Oecanthus sp.), captures and paralyses them with her sting, and transports them to the nest. She deposits eggs in the nest and the emerging larvae will feed on the living, but immobile crickets. When the larvae reach the appropriate size (in 4–6 days at 70–75° F.), they spin a cocoon and pupate. The adult wasps emerge in 2–3 weeks. In Pennsylvania, Isodontia mexicana typically produce two generations per year.  Remarks These wasps commonly make their nest in the narrow track found above outer windows.”  We have many more images in our archives of the nests of Grass Carrying Wasps because they are so frequently found in window tracks.  Solitary wasps are generally not aggressive, and rarely sting humans, though that possibility does exist.  Since they are harmless, and since it appears one individual in the images you attached might be dead from unnatural causes, we are tagging this submission as Unnecessary Carnage.  Because Grass Carrying Wasps are emerging from nests formed in window tracks now that spring has arrived, and because we suspect other homemakers might be experiencing similar sightings, we are tagging this posting as the Bug of the Month for May 2017.

Grass Carrying Wasp

Update:  Grass Carrying Wasps reported from France
Subject: Grass carrying wasp
July 25, 2017 5:29 am
Looking at your excellent site, I think you may have resolved two mysteries for me.
We have noticed recently a number of ‘grass carrying wasps’ around our dining table on the terrace. They have been disappearing into the metal frame taking their blades of grass with them. However, without taking the table apart we have been unable to tack where they are going.
I assumed them to be carrying the grass for nesting material and your site confirms this.
What you may have also answered is the reason why over the past couple of weeks, we have been finding a number small, bright green crickets on the chairs and the terrace around the table. Anything from 1 to about a dozen or so at any one time.
We assumed them to be dead but your item on the  g.c.w. suggest that may not in fact be the case.
If I may ask a question – we live in the south-west of France which is a long way from you folks. Can you confirm if these wasps are the same i.mexicana as you have or another entirely different insect altogether.
Many thanks for creating and maintaining the website. I use it often.
Have a nice day y’all.
PS – If I can get a decent photograph I will send it to you.
Signature: Robin Nichols

Dear Robin,
We sometimes have a hard time with French sightings as there are not many comprehensive insect websites devoted to French species, however, folks in the UK seem to really like their bugs.  According to the Bee Keepers Garden:  ” A new to Britain wasp,
Isodontia mexicana (de Saussure), known as the Grass-carrying wasp, has been discovered at Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park. …  Researcher David Notton of the Natural History Museum said the wasp is pretty docile and a solitary species, so does not form large nests. ‘It’s quite unlike the better known and aggressive yellow/black social wasps with which people may be familiar.  We don’t know how it got to the UK, and although it’s a non-native invasive species there’s no evidence to suggest it’s a threat to UK fauna.'”  Since the Grass Carrying Wasp has been reported in the UK, it might have also been introduced to France.  According to Encyclopedia of Life:  “Isodontia mexicana, the grass-carrying wasp, is one of the thread-waisted wasps belonging to the family Sphecidae. It is native to North America, found east of the Rockies and through Central America, but has recently been introduced into France, where its population is slowly spreading through Europe.” 

Good morning Daniel,
Many thanks for your reply regarding the grass carrying wasp. I have since looked on the internet for information regarding the existence of the insect in France.
According to a (French) Wikipedia entry the wasp arrived in southern France sometime during the 1960’s, since which time it has spread throughout the Midi region (effectively the southern half of France) and is now present in Italy, Spain and Switzerland.
Helped, it is believed, by the long, countrywide heatwave in 2003, it managed to traverse the Massif Central into more northerly parts of France and is gradually spreading further north – presumably as global temperatures rise. I
As you say, it has now also been found in the UK.
Kind regards

Subject: Long bug with clear wings
Location: San Mateo CA
April 30, 2017 9:29 am
This bug was on our bathroom mirror this week. We have never seen such a bug. When I googled it, I get Mayfly or snake fly. We would like your expert clarification please. We are on the San Francisco Peninsula.
Thank you!
Signature: Curious


Dear Curious,
This is an awesome image of a Snakefly in the order Raphidioptera.  According to BugGuide:  “Both larvae and adults are predatory, though they are capable of catching and killing only small and weak prey. Snakefly larvae feed on eggs and larvae of various insects, as well as adults of minute arthropods (e.g. mites, springtails, barklice, and homopterans). Adults typically prefer aphids but may eat a wide variety of arthropods. Adults take efforts to clean themselves after feeding.”

Hi Daniel,
Thank you! Wow… so cool! I asked all my local friends who grew up here and no one knew. Now we do thanks to you!
Much appreciated.