From the monthly archives: "August 2019"

Subject:  1.5 to 2 inch bug hovering over garden
Geographic location of the bug:  Allentown, Pennsylvania
Date: 08/29/2019
Time: 02:02 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  We’ve got a serious Spotted Lantern fly invasion over here. As I swatted a few out in the back porch I happened to see something hovering and then landing on a flower plant in my garden. I was shocked to see what looked like a giant wasp or hornet. It was about 1.5 to 2 inches in length. I searched for the slim waist to identify if it was a wasp but it was think all over with large dark eyes. I ran in my house to get the phone to snap a picture. After a few unclear shots I crouched a bit to get a better shot and it saw me and flew like a flash to scope out where I was. I jetted outta there lol and fearfully stood behind my screen door watching it until it flew away. I searched online but could not find any-bug similar. Can you help me identify it.
How you want your letter signed:  Best Regards Prisilla

Yellowjacket Hover Fly

Dear Prisilla,
Your account of your encounter with this Yellowjacket Hover Fly is riveting.  Though it mimics a stinging insect for protection, the Yellowjacket Hover Fly is perfectly harmless.  Here is a BugGuide image for comparison.  Your individual is also a male, so it might have been staking out territory where it might find a suitable mate.  According to BugGuide:  “Flies aggressively and buzzes like a hornet. In the south, sometimes called the ‘[good] news bee’ for its habit of hovering in front of a person ‘giving the news’. It is also said to be good luck if one can get the insect to perch on a finger, no doubt because this is difficult to do.”

Subject:  Is this a wasp?
Geographic location of the bug:  Vancouver area, British Columbia, Canada
Date: 08/26/2019
Time: 09:49 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I came across this aggressive little monster outside in late August near Vancouver. He was easily 2x the size of a honeybee, and while he preferred hanging out on the wooden bench, he made several short (1-2 second) flights before finding a new landing spot each time on the bench. He even had a mid-air tumble with a flying insect who dared to pass near him. He seemed quite aggressive and unpredictable, so sorry for the blurry pic! I couldn’t get too close.
How you want your letter signed:  Agatha

Bee-Like Robber Fly

Dear Agatha,
This is a Robber Fly, not a Wasp, and it appears to be
Laphria astur, based on this BugGuide image.  Large Robber Flies are aerial predators that take prey on the wing, and the “mid-air tumble” you witnessed might have been a failed attempt to capture a meal.

Subject:  invasive Longhorn beetle or native?
Geographic location of the bug:  South Texas
Date: 08/26/2019
Time: 12:42 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Found this beetle and i was wondering what kind is it and if it is native of Texas
How you want your letter signed:  Gabe

Flat Faced Longhorn is Neoptychodes trilineatus

Hi Gabe,
Your images are quite artful.  This is a Round Headed Apple Borer, a native to North America.  According to the Michigan State University Integrated Pest Management System:  “Attack apples mainly, but most deciduous tree fruits are susceptible. The larvae dig tunnels, most often at the base of the tree trunk. The roundheaded borer leaves accumulations of reddish frass at the entrance of galleries. Infested trees have a sickly appearance, producing sparse, pale-colored foliage (C). Continued yearly attacks can kill the tree or weaken it so that it is broken off by the wind. Young trees that have been girdled will often bloom profusely and set a heavy crop of fruit and then die in the process of bringing it to maturity.”

Neoptychodes trilineatus

Correction: Neoptychodes trilineatus
We just received a comment from Brady Richards correcting this misidentification.  According to BugGuide:  “Although Ficus is the primary host, larvae also develop in Alnus, Morus, Salix, Celtis. ”

Neoptychodes trilineatus

Subject:  Common Buckeye?
Geographic location of the bug:  Central Florida
Date: 08/26/2019
Time: 07:30 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi!
I was stalking butterflies around my sister’s garden with my camera when visiting her recently in Florida…I snapped a photo of this pretty lady/fellow but discovered I missed getting it with wings open.  Is this a common buckeye?  Thanks!
How you want your letter signed:  Leslie F.

American Lady

Hi Leslie,
This is not a Buckeye.  The two spots on the hind wings are distinguishing features of the American Lady.  Here is a BugGuide image for comparison.

Subject:  Bug Mimics Wasp Colours
Geographic location of the bug:  Ontario, Canada
Date: 08/25/2019
Time: 11:16 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Just curious to know what this is.  I couldn’t find anything online with the same markings.
How you want your letter signed:  Melissa

Sugar Maple Borer

Dear Melissa,
This gorgeous beetle is a Sugar Maple Borer, and it is a very effective mimic of Yellowjackets.  Sugar Maple Borers have become increasingly rare in recent years, so your sighting is significant.

Sugar Maple Borer

Subject:  Butterfly near garden
Geographic location of the bug:  Hershey pa
Date: 08/24/2019
Time: 09:23 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I saw this pretty butterfly near my garden. Just wondering what it is?
How you want your letter signed:  Sue Katerman

Hackberry Emperor

Hi Sue,
This is a Hackberry Emperor, which is pictured on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide, the habitat is:  “Deciduous woodlands with hostplant, Hackberry (