Name That Bug


Can anyone identify this freaky-looking insect?

Gold star if you can.

(That’s my key chain in the frame, for size perspective. I wasn’t brave enough to stick my hand anywhere near this thing!)


Carpenter bees suck


Carpenter bees pose almost no threat to humans at all.

Carpenter bees seldom sting.

Carpenter bees are not aggressive. Often, a carpenter bee preoccupied with something will not sting or flee when approached closely or even touched by a human, but merely raise one or two of its legs in the air instead.

Lies, lies, lies.

I’m telling you, carpenter bees do sting and it hurts like hell.

Last week I landed my third sting in as many years. The first carpenter bee zap came when I retrieved the mail and accidentally touched one trapped in our mailbox. The second one got caught in my shirt.

And last week I stepped on one that — inexplicably — was nestled among the dirty clothes by the washing machine. It stung my toe (yes, I was shuffling through the Mount Everest mound of dirty socks and shirts on the cellar floor.) For days my toe didn’t resemble a human digit, it looked like a sausage. (Riding boots and softball cleats do not readily accommodate sausages.)

I pulled up a few websites and at least one added the following annotation to the “bees are harmless” claim: male carpenter bees do not possess stingers; females can sting when disturbed and the sting is painful.

No kidding.

Martin has a theory as to why I’ve been targeted so many times: “You’re actually an alien and the bees can sense it and are trying to destroy you.”

It’s possible.

Recently I’ve identified another potential extra terrestrial who has suffered the carpenter bee’s wrath: my farrier. He’s been “bitten” and “yea, it hurts like hell.”

So consider this a public service announcement: beware the carpenter bee — at least the females. Fortunately, they can be easily “sexed” at a glance. Males have a patch of white or yellow on the face, and females do not.

You got that? Next time, if there’s any doubt, just cup the bee in your hand. If it delivers a searing sting, it’s a girl.



Another moth chronicle

Remember the camo moth from the mudroom this summer? (Original blog post, here.)




I thought that he was the coolest thing on wings — until my friend Hunter shared this pix:


Rosy moth


Actually, photo credit goes to Hunter’s husband, Chris, who spotted this in their yard. (The moth appears to be humping a less flashy mate).

The sherbet-shaded insect is a Rosy Maple. Or Dryocampa rubicunda, for you entomology geeks. Google says that this species usually flutters around northern states (like Wisconsin) and southern ones (including Florida).

This one detoured to Maryland, to get it on.