From the monthly archives: "April 2021"

Subject:  Hairy red and black fly(?)
Geographic location of the bug: Texas (San Antonio)
Date: 04/24/2021
Time: 02:09 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This gorgeous hairy-breeched insect was obsessed with my (non-flowering) cucumber plant. It looks like a fly but I can’t find it in any databases. I checked for wasps and bees, too! Seen April 24th (late spring)
How you want your letter signed:  Jennifer

Squash Vine Borer

Dear Jennifer,
This is not a Fly.  It is a Moth that benefits by mimicking a Wasp.  This is a Squash Vine Borer, and since cucumbers are in the squash family, we presume it is a female laying eggs.  You can get additional information on BugGuide.

Subject:  Spreading Wings on a Warm Spring Day
Geographic location of the bug:  Mulholland Gate, California
Date: 04/24/2021
Time: 10:40 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman :  Dear Bugman,
While hiking in the Santa Monica mountains, I spotted this winged beauty. April 24, 2021
I also spotted two other winged creatures on flowers, there were several in the area and strangely didn’t seem to be alive.
How you want your letter signed :  Melanie on the Irish Chain

Chalcedon Checkerspot

Dear Melanie,
We immediately recognized your lovely butterfly as one of the Checker-Spots and turning to Charles Hogue’s
Insects of the Los Angeles Basin, we identified your individual as a Chalcedon Checker-Spot, Euphydryas chaldecona, and Hogue specifies:  “Though rarely seen in the basin’s flatlands, this species may be quite abundant in the surrounding foothills, visiting flowers in the spring and early summer” and later of the preferred caterpillar food plants “locally they are particularly fond of Sticky Monkey Flower (Diplacus longiflorus), a common native shrub of the coastal sage plant community.”  It is pictured on Butterflies and Moths of North America and on BugGuide and well as here on BugGuide where it it is recognized as a subspecies, Euphydryas chalcedona chalcedona, and where it states on the BugGuide info page that the range is:  “Primarily relatively near the Pacific Coast, west of desert areas, in areas of broken terrain, from northern British Columbia to northern Baja California Norte. Inland in mountains of eastern Oregon and Washington, across northern Idaho and just into extreme western Montana. Also inland in desert mountains across the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts of southern California and Nevada into southern Arizona and perhaps northwestern Sonora.”  It may have appeared “not alive” because it was seen earlier in the day and it had not yet warmed enough so that it might fly.  We cannot conclusinvely identify your images of the Solitary Bee and Wasp.

Subject:  bug or seed pod?
Geographic location of the bug:  Mill Creek, WA
Date: 04/20/2021
Time: 09:28 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello,
I was moving pots around on my deck and found several pods (?) like this in the angle where the deck meets the house. This was the largest but still isn’t very big (the USB connector is provided for scale). They required some effort to remove. This one even took some paint from the house.
Any ideas what this could be? I’ve used various image search engines but keep getting bowls of nuts, berries, and peas. Now I’m hungry! 😉
Thanks for your help,
How you want your letter signed:  PJ

Bird’s Nest Fungus

Dear PJ,
We do not recognize this thing, but if faced with the choice of seed pod or egg case, we believe this is the latter.  It appears to be spun from silk, so that could mean a Spider or even an Orthopteran.  The eggs, if that is what they are, appear more Orthopteran to us but the case appears more like the egg case of a Spider.  Perhaps one of our readers will have a better idea.  So sorry your web search made you hungry.

Bird’s Nest Fungus

Thanks to everyone who wrote in that this is a fruiting body of the Bird’s Nest Fungus.

Hello Daniel,
Thank you for the quick response! After I sent my ID request to you, I kept searching but switched over to fungi which proved more fruitful and definitely killed my appetite.
Anyway, turns out, this is bird’s nest fungi ( My sample was really dried out due to our unseasonably dry/sunny weather recently, but it’s pretty unmistakable.
It’s amazing how much it looks like a woven egg sac, tho. Fungi are pretty darn fascinating.
Thanks again!

Subject:  What’s this bug?
Geographic location of the bug:  Australia, Victoria, Dandenong
Date: 04/12/2021
Time: 05:02 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello bugman,
I’m curious about what this bug is. I have found a few in my shed. Any help will be greatly appreciated. A small donation haha.
How you want your letter signed:  Nathan

Wingless Female Soldier Fly

Dear Nathan,
This is a wingless female Soldier Fly in the subfamily Chiromyzinae, and the first time we ever saw one of these, it had us puzzled for quite some time.  There are numerous images posted to iNaturalist.

Wingless Female Soldier Fly

Subject:  Insect in Mass.
Geographic location of the bug:  Western Massachusetts
Date: 04/19/2021
Time: 12:09 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Can you help identify this large insect. It was walking a crosswalk at night.
How you want your letter signed:  M Grybko


Dear M Grybko,
This is a Toebiter, also known as a Giant Water Bug or Electric Light Bug.  This is one of the most frequent identification requests we receive.

Thank you for the quick response. I haven’t seen one before and I am over 50.

Subject:  Blue eyed grasshopper
Geographic location of the bug:  Saint Lucia, Lesser Antilles
Date: 04/19/2021
Time: 08:02 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  No photo shop!!    This grasshopper, found in the open bathroom of our guest house here in Saint Lucia,  has electric blue eyes.     Date, April 19.     Local man says it is a “Clap-Clap” from call at night.   Is it known?   An earlier post had photo of this insect as “unknown orthopteran”.
How you want your letter signed:  Madeleine

Unknown Cyan-eyed Ensiferan from Santa Lucia

Dear Madeleine,
We cannot believe that 13 years have passed since that 2008 posting of the Unknown Caribbean Orthopteran with blue eyes, and there is a noticeable dearth of images online that illustrate this amazing insect.  It is also quite interesting that you also took images of this same unidentified Orthopteran in Saint Lucia, so there must be a population of them on the island.  First we would like to make a few corrections.  This is not a Grasshopper.  Grasshoppers are Orthopterans, but they have short antennae.  The members of the order with long antennae belong to the suborder Ensifera which includes Katydids and Crickets.  Also, we originally referred to this eye color as blue, but in teaching the color wheel to our photo and cinema students, we draw a distinction between the colors blue and cyan, and the eye color of this critter is definitely cyan.  See Reddit or Quora for the difference between blue and cyan.  That said, we are still not able to provide a species identification for this awesome insect.  We will attempt to contact Piotr Naskrecki who is an expert in Katydids to see if he recognizes it.

Unknown Cyan-eyed Ensiferan from Santa Lucia

Thank you very much!    Since I wrote you, I found Nesonotus tricornis on the internet.   It seems to be a perfect match.     What do you think?   Yes, Katydid of course, and yes, Cyan.    A local man here in St Lucia saw my picture (I have others, by the way) and said it was a “clack-clack” for the noise it makes at night.    We have been hearing a katydid or two sing (or clack, it is kind of mechanical) at night.    Quite low pitched.
We loved this insect!    He was calm, drank some water, walked on us, didn’t fly….though I suppose eventually it did.
Madeleine Love (usually in Maine)

Unknown Cyan-eyed Ensiferan from Santa Lucia

Update:  Thank you so much for getting back to us Madeleine, and based on images posted to Nature Picture Library (where Piotr Naskrecki provided the image) and iNaturalist, we agree that this is likely Nesonotus tricornis.  According to the Dutch Caribbean Species Register, the common name is Forest Katydid.