I hope you enjoy taking a closer look at some of the things I find interesting.
- North America (155)
- South America (171)
- Amphibians (10)
- Frogs and Toads (10)
- Arachnids (41)
- Fungi (3)
- Insects (215)
- Ants, Bees, Wasps and Relatives (44)
- Barklice (1)
- Beetles (27)
- Butterflies and Moths (55)
- Cockroaches (2)
- Dragonflies (1)
- Earwigs (1)
- Flies (20)
- Grasshoppers and Relatives (9)
- Mantids (3)
- Net-winged Insects (7)
- Termites (5)
- Thrips (1)
- True Bugs (57)
- Walkingsticks (1)
- Webspinners (1)
- Mammals (2)
- Millipedes (1)
- Polyxenids (1)
- Plants (3)
- Reptiles (13)
- Velvet Worms (3)
- Amphibians (10)
Category Archives: Identification Challenges
Kudos to all commenters on Identification Challenge #9. They all correctly determined that this was a closeup of an Onychophoran, commonly called a velvet worm.
These strange creatures have their own phylum, Onychophora, the name of which literally means “claw bearers”. You should be able to see those claws above, at the tips of their stubby little legs.
Wikipedia tells us there are only two surviving families, Peripatidae and Peripatopsidae, geographically separate. The range for Peripatidae includes Central America and tropical South America, making this a member of that family.
This challenge will be more like one of Ted MacRae’s Super Crop Challenges.
Can you figure out what this might be? Can anyone explain the relationship between what’s shown here and its name? You should be able to get to family here.
I’ll hold all comments in moderation for a while this time.
I knew the photo above would be difficult to identify, but I was happy that everyone at least figured out it was a spider. As a side note, I hope everyone realizes you can click on the photo to see a larger version.
One commenter, biozcw, ventured that it might be an Argyrodes species. That’s close, because the species I believe I have here, Ariamnes attenuatus, was formerly placed in that genus.
This spider was hiding beneath a large leaf. At only 15mm as shown in the initial photograph, it’s small and virtually disappears when assuming that cryptic position. Here’s a decidedly more spider-like pose. You can just barely see a strand of silk stretching from the spinnerets towards the upper right corner of the image.
How specific can you get with an identification for what’s shown above?
All commenters correctly determined that this was a moth:
At the time I took the picture, I assumed this was a butterfly. It acted like a butterfly, being active during the day and the way it held its wings (not folded over the back like many moths).
It was only when reviewing the photo later that I noticed it looked a bit odd for a butterfly. Like many commenters, I noted the lack of clubbed antennae. I didn’t try to identify it, but I remembered it when I read an interesting short article in a recent issue of Natural History magazine. The article was all about day flying moths in the subfamily Dioptinae (family Notodontidae). I emailed the author, James S. Miller, asking if he thought this might be one. Here’s his response:
This challenge will be straightforward. Is this a butterfly or a moth? Why?
Here’s a habitat shot, showing the shot above was taken during the day. The subject above is the yellow speck near the bottom, center right.
As I suspected, this challenge was easily met by all commenters.
It is of course Arilus cristatus, commonly known as the wheel bug for the very structure shown above. I didn’t get a full body shot of this specimen, but here’s a wider view.
Among the largest assassin bugs in North America, they can deliver a painful stab with that beak. I foolishly held one when I was a kid, and I’ll not be making that mistake twice.
For more info, see the species info page at BugGuide.
As usual, Ted C. MacRae was right on all counts for this challenge:
I thought perhaps the swept-back antenna across the bottom third of the photo might throw people off. Not so.
Here’s a better shot of the katydid which was cooperative enough to allow some good closeups. This should put all the body parts shown above in context.
My sister guessed a dragonfly via a Facebook comment. I can see the resemblance so not a bad guess.
Here’s a closeup of an unidentified insect. Can you identify the family to which it belongs and the body parts shown?