From the monthly archives: "July 2019"

Subject:  Katydid Eating It’s Tail?
Geographic location of the bug:  Atlanta, Georgia
Date: 07/30/2019
Time: 11:29 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  One more! This katydid has been hanging out on my front porch for 2 days now. I went outside about 11pm and it appeared to be eating its tail. I took a video as I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Do katydids self-cannibolize?
How you want your letter signed:  Chel

Female Common True Katydid

Dear Chel,
Based on this BugGuide image, we are confident this is a female Common True Katydid, and what you are calling its tail is actually an ovipositor, and organ the female uses when laying eggs.  The position your Katydid is in indicates she might be trying to lay eggs, based on this image of a Costa Rican Katydid and this image of a Katydid laying eggs in captivity, both from our archives.  Your individual might have been grooming her ovipositor, which appeared to you to be autocannibalism.

Female Common True Katydid

Subject:  Giant Caterpillar Found!
Geographic location of the bug:  Mexico, Guanajuato State
Date: 07/30/2019
Time: 12:58 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman :  Hi there! I was in my yard today and was shocked when I discovered this huge, mauvey colored, black striped caterpillar. I tried searching around the internet to indentify it but I had no luck. It seemed to have a single eye-like pattern in the middle of its butt, which made me think maybe it was a swallowtail, but again I can’t find anything like it. I am really interested in knowing what it is and would be so grateful if you could help! It’s also the summer/hot/rainy season here in Mexico if that helps! Thanks for your efforts!
How you want your letter signed:  Emma

Typhon Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Emma,
The “single eye-like pattern in the middle of its butt is known as a caudal bump, a mark at the tip of the abdomen that marks the spot where a caudal horn was shed from a prior molt.  Because of that caudal bump, we correctly guessed the genus and then quickly located matching images of a Typhon Sphinx Caterpillar,
Eumorpha typhon, on Sphingidae of the Americas where it states the larval food plant is grape.  Do you have a nearby grape vine?

Typhon Sphinx Caterpillar

Wow thank you for identifying it so quickly! That’s so fascinating! We initially believed that it had fallen off from a vine that runs along our fence and into our courtyard, so that makes perfect sense. Not sure if it is a grape vine however. Yesterday I put it back on the vine, so I’m glad that’s where it wanted to be. Thank you again!

It might have left the vine to find a place to pupate.  Many Sphinx Caterpillars burrow underground to pupate.

Subject:  Unknown bee
Geographic location of the bug:  Vancouver island B.C.
Date: 07/30/2019
Time: 06:49 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This noisy bee landed on the end of a log and eventually crawled underneath.
How you want your letter signed:  Richard

Lion Beetle

Dear Richard,
Though this looks very much like a Bee, it is not.  One can’t even begin to contemplate the complexity of the transformational events that caused this Lion Beetle,
Ulochaetes leoninus, to mimic the appearance and behavior of a stinging insect for protection from predators and other threats that have learned to avoid aposomatic or warning colors and markings after having first been stung.  The first time we received an identification request for a Lion Beetle, we were quite confused ourselves.

Lion Beetle

Hello Daniel,
thanks so much for the identification.  We did our best with images but no luck.  We were beekeepers for a few years and were puzzled by this critter. The loin like tuft of fuzz like a bumblebee on a body most resembling a queen honey bee was a strange sight.  I’m grateful to have had a chance to see one fly and land close enough to take a couple of photos.

Subject:  Great Black Wasps
Geographic location of the bug:  Andover Township, NJ
Date: 07/29/2019
Time: 06:11 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I was out in my pollinator garden this afternoon and noticed a huge Great Black Wasp on the mountain mint.  A very exciting discovery as I rarely see them.  And then, I started noticing that there were maybe a half dozen of them in the garden! I am hopeful that this means a colony is getting established somewhere on our property.  I already have a nice colony of Great Golden Diggers, so have Black Wasps would be a bonus.  A few photos below.
How you want your letter signed:  Deborah E Bifulco

Great Black Wasp

Dear Deborah,
Your Great Black Wasp images are awesome.  That is exciting to learn you may have a stable population of this incredible predator in your vicinity.  Daniel sees Great Golden Digger Wasps every summer on onion flowers and chives flowers, and there is a healthy population of Katydids in the garden as well, but last year was the first time he had a Great Black Wasp sighting on a wild sunflower, but alas, he had no camera handy.

Great Black Wasp

Subject:  Large insect
Geographic location of the bug:  South East Ontario, canada
Date: 07/29/2019
Time: 08:05 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This creature flew into my garage with very large wings, and a creepy looking head.  I have no idea what to class this insect as.  It looks vicious.  I hope the pictures help with identification.
How you want your letter signed:  Michael Steele

Male Dobsonfly

Dear Michael,
Despite his large size and impressive mandibles, this male Dobsonfly is perfectly harmless.

Subject:  Help needed to ID orange winged flying critter
Geographic location of the bug:  Atlantic Beach FL
Date: 07/30/2019
Time: 08:51 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  My husband spotted this amorous couple on his early morning beach walk.Thanks to you who admire and respect all God’s creatures, great and small!
How you want your letter signed:  Lyvisky, Florida

Mating Spotted Oleander Caterpillar Moths

Dear Lyvisky, Florida,
These are mating Spotted Oleander Caterpillar Moths,
Empyreuma affinis, and they are harmless Tiger Moths that benefit from protective mimicry as they are easily mistaken for stinging wasps by predators.

Thank you, Daniel!! They do indeed resemble wasps. I’m always happy to meet new species.