Wednesday “What the heck?”


This might be the hardest nature quiz ever – I don’t think I would’ve ever figured out what this was had I not found what I did next to it.  I found it on my recent trip to look for Cicindela scutellaris (festive tiger beetle) in southeastern Missouri. Of course, now knowing what it is, the image does seem to provide enough clues about its identity – perhaps some crack naturalist will figure it out.

I’ll provide the answer with additional photos tomorrow.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2009

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About Ted C. MacRae

Ted C. MacRae is a research entomologist by vocation and beetle taxonomist by avocation. Areas of expertise in the latter include worldwide jewel beetles (Buprestidae) and North American longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae). More recent work has focused on North American tiger beetles (Cicindelidae) and their distribution, ecology, and conservation.
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39 Responses to Wednesday “What the heck?”

  1. Dale says:

    Looks to me like the abdomen from a pupa of a large silkmoth, like a cecropia, maybe.

  2. Mark Deering says:

    Bot Fly puparia?

  3. Kirk says:

    It’s a one of those things, you know a….

  4. It looks like an insect abdomen of some sort, but that wouldn’t confuse an entomologist, would it?

    Perhaps a plant or cactus bud?

  5. Kirk says:

    Why am I thinking scorpion?

  6. Seabrooke says:

    It reminds me of the mummified empty sphinx moth caterpillar shells I found back in the winter, only slightly different.

  7. Hmmm, my first thought is a pupa, but, honestly, I haven’t a clue. Yet, I feel I should know. Must take an insect course, soon.

  8. The empty pupae of a Mopani Worm. See how clever I am. LOL!! I know you took that shot when you were here in SA. 🙂

  9. kahunna says:

    is it a slightly melted chocolate M&M? 😀

  10. Kirk says:

    Considering it was taken when you where hunting for a certain little beetle, I would say a tiger beetle pupal case.
    I can also safely say it is not, as I originally thought, a miniature elephant seal nose.

  11. Now I can’t wait to see the answer Ted, you sure have gripped my curiosity on this one!!

  12. I’ve got it!!!!! An Emperor Moth!! 🙂

  13. Kirk says:

    You’re just jealous because I got a photo of C. longilabris.

  14. Rod Rood says:

    The outline is quite similar to that of an Oestridae larvae thus the pupae and emergence. Odd that it is on the soil surface.

  15. Rod Rood says:

    Well I’m sure you must have the adult and now it’s wing venation time! Unfamiliar with the Missouri fauna but may be of the genus Cephenemyia (cervids), Oestrus (sheep +) or Hypoderma (cattle), or Cuterebra (terrestrial rodents).
    Nice find!

  16. Mark Deering says:

    Cuterebra sp. then? If not, I am unsure and would need the adult.

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