From the monthly archives: "April 2019"

Subject:  Be? Fly?
Geographic location of the bug:  Oroville California
Date: 04/30/2019
Time: 08:36 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  What is this insect? Bug? I found this on my bush today.
How you want your letter signed:  Sharry

Bee-LIke Robber Fly

Dear Sharry,
This is a Bee-Like Robber Fly in the genus
Laphria, and there are two similar looking species found in California.  We believe you encountered Laphria sackeni which is pictured on BugGuide and which flies from April to July, though we would not rule out that it might be the similar looking Laphria astur, which is also pictured on BugGuide and which has a similar flight season.

Hi Daniel, thank you so much for identifying the robber fly. I noticed it on my white  flowering Oleander  bush today.  From a distance I thought it was a black bumble bee, a small one. However when I got closer to take a picture of it  it was obviously not a black bumble bee . It has kind of a cute face  but very strange-looking .
Why do they call it the robber fly?
Hello again Sharry,
Robber Flies are predators in the family Asilidae, and according to BugGuide, they are also known as Assassin Flies, which might be a more appropriate common name.  Both common names probably arise from their stealth hunting tactics.  The etymological origin of the name Robber Fly is uncertain, however, they are not really robbing anything except perhaps robbing its prey of life.  According to Galveston County Master Gardeners site:  “Robber flies are among the few insects that catch their prey in mid-flight. An individual establishes a perch zone. From there, it swoops out to snatch the unsuspecting victim that is often larger than its aggressor and may even include spiders, large predatory insects, and, sometimes, other robber flies.”

Subject:  Beetle, red, yellow, black
Geographic location of the bug:  Phoenix, AZ
Date: 04/30/2019
Time: 05:23 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Saw this in our back rose bed. Could not find anything like it online.
How you want your letter signed:  Puzzled in Phx

Iron Cross Blister Beetle

Dear Puzzled in Phx,
The first time we ever received an image of gaudily colored Iron Cross Blister Beetle, we thought we were looking at a toy bug.  They would seem to be right on time based on our posting five identification requests of Iron Cross Blister Beetles at the beginning of May 2010.  Populations of individuals will vary from year to year.

Subject:  Some kind of borer beetle?
Geographic location of the bug:  Napa Valley, California
Date: 04/29/2019
Time: 06:04 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman —
Hello! This morning I saw this beetle sipping from a tree. It’s the biggest one I’ve ever seen outside of a zoo, probably about half the size of my index finger. And looks to be pregnant too! Any idea what it could be?
How you want your letter signed:  Christine

Longhorn:  Stenocorus species

Dear Christine,
This is very exciting.
We agree that this appears to be a Longhorned Borer Beetle in the family Cerambycidae, and the size you indicated is quite impressive.  We did not recognize this Beetle, and the width of the abdomen at the base of the elytra is considerably wider than the thorax, and the thorax is unusual in its shape.  On a lark, we decided to search Cerambycidae and Napa Valley and we found
Vandykea tuberculata pictured on the Cerambycidae Catalog Search, and it does seem to resemble your individual.  We found a single posting on BugGuide and the common name Serpentine Cypress Long-Horned Beetle and the remark:  “on California’s “Special Animals” List.”  We believe this might be a very rare sighting, and we are seeking assistance from Eric Eaton and Doug Yanega to get their opinions.  We will get back to you on this.  We also have selected this posting to be the Bug of the Month for May 2019, and we really hope our initial research has produced a correct identification so we can research this species more.  If that is a correct identification, according to Nature Serve Explorer:  “Critically Imperiled” and “An extremely rare endemic restricted to serpentine cypresses in the Clear Lake area in Lake County, CA.

Longhorn:  Stenocorus species

Correction Courtesy of Doug Yanega
Hi. This is a large female Stenocorus, either vestitus or nubifer. They
are difficult to distinguish based on photos.
Doug Yanega      Dept. of Entomology       Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California, Riverside, CA

Ed. Note:  Of the two species, BugGuide has information on Stenocorus vestitus which states:  “hosts: Pinaceae (Pinus, Pseudotsuga, Tsuga); adults on flowers”

Wow, thanks so much! It’s always exciting to see new bugs in the spring and summer.

Subject:  Bug in smoky mountain national park near Gatlinburg
Geographic location of the bug:  Above
Date: 04/29/2019
Time: 05:54 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Curious as to what this bug is?
How you want your letter signed:  Dawn

Pleasing Fungus Beetle

Dear Dawn,
This is definitely a Pleasing Fungus Beetle in the genus
Megalodacne, and according to BugGuide:  “Larvae feed on bracket fungi. Adults overwinter under bark, often in groups.”  We are puzzled as to what is protruding from its abdomen.  No images on BugGuide depict such an ovipositor.  We have contacted Eric Eaton for his opinion on this.

Eric Eaton Confirms:
Your assessment is correct.  Many beetles, especially those that place eggs in bark crevices or other nooks and crannies have telescoping ovipositors like this.

Subject:  Identification request
Geographic location of the bug:  Frederick area Maryland
Date: 04/28/2019
Time: 07:15 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello. We saw this today while our walking and are very curious about what it is.
How you want your letter signed:  ?

Rosy Maple Moth

Though your image lacks clarity, this Rosy Maple Moth is readily identifiable.

Subject:  Caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Dubai
Date: 04/28/2019
Time: 02:43 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi Bugman,
Could you please help me figure out what this insect is?
I found it in my backyard.
How you want your letter signed:  Yarib

Lappet Moth Caterpillar

Dear Yarib,
This is a Lappet Moth Caterpillar in the family Lasiocampidae, but we are uncertain of the species.