From the monthly archives: "January 2019"

Subject:  Caterpillar Identification
Geographic location of the bug:  Canary Islands
Date: 01/31/2019
Time: 03:51 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello Bugman,
I was wondering you could identify the caterpillar in the attached picture? A person that I know found several of them on a plant in Indiana. I tried to identify it on my own but with no luck. I thought it was some sort of hawk moth larva.
Thank you,
How you want your letter signed:  Emma

Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Dear Emma,
This is a very colorful Whitelined Sphinx, a highly variable caterpillar when it comes to markings and coloration.  Here is a BugGuide image that greatly resembles your individual.

Correction:  Thanks to a comment from frequent contributor on Sphingidae submissions, Bostjan Dvorak, we now agree that this is the caterpillar of the related Leafy Spurge Hawkmoth, Hyles euphorbiae, and according to BugGuide:  “Introduced from Europe since the 1960s to combat leafy spurge.”  Sphingidae of the Americas does not list the Leafy Spurge Hawkmoth from Indiana, but BugGuide does list it in nearby Michigan, leading us to speculate that the range of the introduced moth is increasing with the spread of Leafy Spurge.

Update: Hello Daniel Marlos,
Thank you very much for the feedback. That’s definitely interesting. I am just confused because although this specimen looks pretty much exactly like the Spurge caterpillars it lacks the double spots found on the side of Spurge caterpillars. Also, the big spots are filled in with color not just white. Could it be perhaps a variable pattern?
I have been told by the person who took the photo that this caterpillar was found with several other of these same types of caterpillars. Not that this piece of information helps but perhaps shows that it’s not just an anomaly?.
Thank you again for taking the time to identify this caterpillar.
~ Emma

Hi Again Emma,
There is often much variation between individuals of the same species.  Often knowing the plant upon which an insect was feeding is a tremendous clue in determining identity.  The greatest evidence we have that this is a Leafy Spurge Hawkmoth Caterpillar was provided in the comment sent by Bostjan where he identified the plant upon which the individual was feeding as Spurge in the genus
Euphorbia.  That food plant would negate our original supposition that this might be a very colorful Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar.

CORRECTION:  February 25, 2019
Hi Daniel,
I made a mistake in the location of the caterpillar we thought was a leafy spurge moth, which clears up this confusing identification. This caterpillar was found on Gran Canaria Island, Spain which is off the coast of NW Africa. It is actually the Barbary spurge hawkmoth (Hyles tithymali).

Thanks for the update Emma.  We aren’t going to ask how the Canary Islands were confused with Indiana.  We have images of the Barbary Spurge Hawkmoth Caterpillar in our archives.

Haha, yeah definitely an odd switch up. My dad showed me the picture that his friend had taken. He didn’t ask his friend where he took it and assumed he took it in Indiana. I asked my dad again since the identification didn’t quite make sense and that’s where I got the true location which makes so much more sense. Thank you!

At least we got the genus correct originally.


Subject:  type of insect
Geographic location of the bug:  Lebanon
Date: 01/31/2019
Time: 08:35 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  hi, I was literally surprised by itching for a period of time(1 month) so I started taking pills of allergy and nothing happened . one day, i was itching my leg, and i found a small insect like a spider it looks like it attached on the hair and skin. In that day i found 2 3 of them on my skin and i become more allergy but  there’s no patch of red skin or something bubble.
How you want your letter signed:  .

Crab Louse

Dear .,
This sure looks like a Crab Louse,
Phthiris pubis, to us, an ectoparasite often found living in human pubic hair.  Since you found this Crab Louse on yourself and not on a significant other, we can be totally frank and provide this information found on the Penn State Department of Entomology site:  “Crab lice usually are transmitted from person to person by sexual contact, however, they can be found on toilet seats and in beds, and from there, spread to people.”  You may or may not find amusing this Wired article questioning if the modern obsession with depilation of luxuriant growths of pubic hair due to changing standards of aesthetics might affect populations of Crab Lice in the future.  

Crab Louse

Subject:  Undetermined moth from Chanchamayo, Peru.
Geographic location of the bug:  Near Naranjal, Chanchamayo, Junin, Peru.
Date: 01/30/2019
Time: 10:23 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  The body and wing shape are similar to a sphingid but the antennae are all wrong.
Locality was near Naranjal, Chanchamayo Province, Junin Region, Peru on January 10th, 2019 at about 1,020 m elevation. This was the morning the rainy season began for the locality. On the dorsal side of the abdomen there were broad, horizontal bands of black coloration, maybe four or five in number – a personal observation, not visible in the photo. It was of medium size for a moth yet small for a sphingid, probably with a wingspan close to or a little more than three inches.
The feathered antennae are what throw me as I am not familiar with any hawk moths with anything close to the resemblance. To me, it is visually similar to a Giant Leopard Moth (it isn’t one) but once again, the antennae are not like most tiger moths.
Any ideas or guesses, even just the family would be very welcome.
How you want your letter signed:  Kevin

Flannel Moth perhaps

Dear Kevin,
We agree this is not a Sphinx Moth.  We believe it is a Flannel Moth in the family Megalopygidae, or possibly a Carpenter Moth or Goat Moth in the family Cossidae.  We have contacted Lepidopterist Julian Donahue to get his input.  Meanwhile, we will begin searching images of Megalopygidae from South America.

Julian Donahue provides a family identification.
Not a cossid. It’s Megaloypygidae.

Julian Donahue provides additional information.
It’s Podalia orsilocha (or orsilochus, depending on the source), in the Megalopygidae.
Attached is an image of both sexes from plate 162 of Vol. 6 of Seitz, Macrolepidoptera of the World.
Complete life history, with photos (presumably by Dan Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs) from the Guanacaste Province of Costa Rica is here:

Google the species and you’ll find numerous additional websites.

Podalia orsilocha

Yes, that is it!
As soon as I Googled the Latin name, there was a nice video link for YouTube with footage of the moth – exactly like the specimen I found.
You all are very good – please pass along my thanks to Julian Donahue as well.
Many thanks!

Subject:  Bright Green beetle, dark blue legs and orange head.
Geographic location of the bug:  Mitcham Victoria Australia
Date: 01/30/2019
Time: 11:40 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Can you identify this beetle? I would be very great full if you can.
How you want your letter signed:  Yours truly  Andrea King

Female Golden Stag Beetle

This is a marvelous image of what we believe is a female Golden Stag Beetle, Lamprima aurata, that we identified thanks to the Museums Victoria Collections site where it is described as:  “Body oval and shiny. Colour varies; green, red, blue or purple all over body. Males have larger bodies and larger jaws (mandibles) than females. Body up to 3 cm long, usually 1.5 – 2.5 cm.”   FlickR includes a really beautiful image, and according to Encyclopedia of Life:  ” is relatively common throughout Australia, and fairly variable in coloration, so has been given many names by various authors. Females are smaller than the males, and males have the mandibles enlarged and prolonged forwards. The colour of the males is typically metallic golden green or golden yellow, while females may be blue, blue-green or also dull brown.”  Your inquiry is perfectly timed to be our Bug of the Month for February 2019.

Hi Daniel,
That is marvellous.  Just wondering if I can have my name on it instead of ‘yours truly’ as I didn’t know what was meant by ‘how would you like it signed’.  Also does it cost to register on the site?
Kind regards
Andrea King

Hi Andrea,
There is no charge to register on WTB?

Subject:  ID help please
Geographic location of the bug:  Melbourne, Australia
Date: 01/30/2019
Time: 07:33 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi Bugman,
We’ve had a heatwave here in Australia lately and a big increase in the suburban biting/sucking bug population. I found the one in the first image on my 2 year old daughter’s arm at breakfast, and subsequently found head lice on her scalp. It seems large (3mm) and very dark for a head louse, and I’m hoping to distinguish it from body lice (generalised itching in the household may well be psychosomatic of course!) I don’t think it’s a bed bug but would appreciate any input.
The second image is of a tiny (2mm x 2mm), round, shiny beetle I think, found on outdoor sofa. Could this be a type of ladybug as it seems very round?
The third was found on cot mattress while changing linen during lice treatment, it’s the most worrying given its location and I’ve no idea what it is. Measures 3mm long by 1mm wide.
My apologies for the image quality, all collected in tape before I found your site.
Many thanks in anticipation of some peace of mind,
How you want your letter signed:  Amanda


Dear Amanda,
The critter in your first image is definitely a Louse.  Though it is a North American site, BugGuide differentiates Head Lice from Body Lice by designating different subspecies of the Human Louse,
Pediculus humanusPenn State has a nice fact sheet on Lice.  We cannot make out enough details in image three and we will address 2 in a different response.

Subject:  Whats that Bug ?
Geographic location of the bug:  Vancouver Washington
Date: 01/29/2019
Time: 01:52 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi,
I have had a most distressing time attempting to determine the identity of this bug. It is a six legged black beetle of some kind but I fail to find any matching species in all of my research on the matter. I would be very appreciative if you could let me know what you think.
How you want your letter signed:  Charles Richardson

Western Boxelder Bug

Dear Charles,
This is not a Beetle, but rather a True Bug, so that might have made your identification attempts more distressing.  It appears to be a Western Boxelder Bug,
Boisea rubrolineata, and according to BugGuide:  “Particularly noticeable in fall (often invade homes in search of shelter to hibernate) and in spring (when they emerge).”  Boxelder Bugs often form aggregations with numerous individuals.

Thank you so much. I very much appreciate your response and reply. You guys are a godsend…
Best Regards,