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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Cool looking spider/caterpillar

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Question
Spider?
Spider?  

strange caterpillar
strange caterpillar  
While on a walk the other day I came across these 2 that look cool. One is what looks like a spider black and yellow and 8 legs and it has a head smaller than it's back. It was on its web which was hovering over some plants and leaves in the woods. I seen more of the same spiders but I freaked most of them out by accident and scared them away. Luckily when I saw this guy I watched my step so he can stay in place for a photo. The other looks like a caterpillar black with a chain of orange shapes down its back and also looks like it has strange spikey pointy things. This was seen on a sidewalk. Can you give me details and specific names of these guys?

Answer
Dear Douglas The spider appears to be one of the sheet-web spiders in the family Linyphiidae -  see  http://tinyurl.com/lbt5kn5  for an example. This is a huge family with hundreds of species in the USA, and I would hesitate to attempt a more specific identification. The caterpillar is a mourning cloak, Nymphalis antiopa (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae), see http://tinyurl.com/n2bkwqw for images and details on its life history.

Hope this helps,
Saugy

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Ed Saugstad

Expertise

Will accept most questions in general entomology, including those related to medical entomology, taxonomy, ecology, arthropod surveillance, and pest management. If you are requesting a 'mystery bug' identification, PLEASE either attach an image to your question, or post an image on a web page (such as Flickr) so that I can look at it, as verbal descriptions frequently are insufficient for a definitive identification.

Experience

21 years in the U.S. Army as a medical entomologist; duties varied from surveillance of pest populations (including mosquitoes, cockroaches, ticks, and stored products pests) to conducting research on mosquito-virus ecological relationships and mosquito faunal studies. Ten years as a civilian analyst for the Department of Defense, primarily on distribution of vector-borne diseases worldwide. Limited experience on surveillance of agricultural insects in North Dakota and Indiana.

Organizations
Entomological Society of America, West Virginia Entomological Society, Society for Vector Ecology, National Speleological Society, West Virginia Association for Cave Studies.

Publications
American Journal of Public Health, Contributions of the American Entomological Institute, Japanese Journal of Sanitary Zoology, Journal of Economic Entomology, Mosquito News, and Mosquito Systematics.

Education/Credentials
B.S. in entomology from North Dakota State University in 1963, M.S. in entomology from Purdue University in 1967.

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