Identification of a segmented black insect in France

Identification of a segmented black insect in France

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Found in the Lot department of southern France.

I think this is some sort of soldier fly larva (family Stratiomyidae). That would explain lack of legs. There are thousands of species world wide, with both aquatic and terrestrial larvae, so it might be possible to narrow it down a bit more.

Image from for comparison:

Thanks to @bli for reminding me of dipteran larvae!

Identification of a segmented black insect in France - Biology

Black insects are small pests of the insect group that can be disconcerting in your house. They can get into your stored food and sometimes scare your kids, although they are not harmful at times. Their presence is somehow considered normal, but many wish to eradicate them. When many parents notice small and black insects with the hard shell in the house, pesticides are the first eradicating plan that comes in their heads. But with kids in the house, use of pesticides is never a good option. Ingestion of pesticides can result in death, leukemia, or lymphoma. There are better and safe natural ways to get rid of these small and black insects without using pesticides.

Black Caterpillar Identification

Identifying black caterpillars requires noting details such as the type of hairy covering, and specific markings such as stripes and spots. Some types of furry caterpillars also look deceiving. For example, some woolly caterpillars look like soft furry worms. However, their bristles are a defense mechanism and it can be spiky and sore.

In this article, you will learn about the most commonly-found types of black caterpillars with pictures. You will find out how to identify the different caterpillar species and what their unique characteristics are.

Tabanus sudeticus

Tabanus sudeticus is a very large rather dark species (body length about 25 mm) with small equilateral pale median abdominal triangles which do not reach the foregoing tergites, and (usually) little or no lateral reddish colour on the abdomen. These characteristics should distinguish Tabanus sudeticus from the very similar Tabanus bovinus, which has the abdomen distinctly reddish-orange at the sides and median triangles usually longer and reaching the foregoing tergite. In addition the tergites of Tabanus sudeticus have black or dark brown bands , whilst the tergites of Tabanus bovinus have brown or pale reddish-brown bands.

The first picture above was taken in the Scottish Highlands, and shows a typical, strongly marked Tabanus sudeticus sitting on my (large black) beating tray, to which it was attracted. The second picture shows a more reddish specimen captured in the New Forest, Hants in 1964. We thought at first this could be Tabanus bovinus but the pale median abdominal triangles do not reach the foregoing tergites which suggests it is Tabanus sudeticus.

Other characteristics enable us to confirm identification of the set specimen above. The 3rd antennal segment of Tabanus sudeticus is reddish-brown on the basal part (including the dorsal tooth) and blackish brown apically, with the antennal flagellar segments black (see first picture below). Tabanus bovinus has the antennae mainly black with only the extreme base of segment 3 reddish-brown. On the underside, sternite 3 of Tabanus sudeticus has a full width dark band (see second picture below). Tabanus bovinus has only a median dark patch on sternite 3.

In life the eyes of females of Tabanus sudeticus are blackish-brown with a coppery sheen (compared to Tabanus bovinus wheose eyes are emerald green) (Brauer in Austen, 1906). The parafacials have abundant black hairs and there are no eye bands .

Males of Tabanus sudeticus ( not shown here) have the abdomen extensively yellow-orange. The facets in the upper two thirds of the compound eye of Tabanus sudeticus are, with the exception of those on hind margin, at least four times the size of the rest . In Tabanus bovinus the eye facets are of fairly even size (if you are uncertain about this character go to for an excellent photo). In life the eyes of males of Tabanus sudeticus are blackish with a coppery sheen, whilst those of Tabanus bovinus are entirely green. (Brauer in Austen, 1906).

Distribution & Seasonal Occurrence

The dark giant horsefly flies in July and August and commonly feeds on the blood of cattle and ponies. In Europe it appears that while Tabanus bovinus occurs in May & June, Tabanus sudeticus flies from the end of June and through July and August. Krčmar (2005) reports that it reaches its maximum abundance in third week of July. In Britain it mainly lives in boggy areas in the north and west, although it is also quite common in the New Forest. Tabanus sudeticus is distributed widely in northern Europe into Russia.

Biology & Ecology:

Resting behaviour & swarming

As with so many Tabanidae, there is surprisingly little information available on the biology of Tabanus sudeticus. Most information appears to have been gathered by Brauer back in the 1880s it is summarised by Austen (1906). Brauer reports that males hover and swarm above the highest mountain tops in the twilight before sunrise.

Tabanus sudeticus is anautogenous - it must first take a blood meal before it can lay eggs (Krčmar & Maríc, 2007). The dark giant horsefly undoubtedly prefers feeding on horses, cattle and deer, but it will bite man if available, as many have found to their cost (see below). It makes a deep hum when flying around a host, but this stops abruptly just before it settles.

Nectar feeding & puddling

Aside from feeding on live hosts, Tabanus sudeticus has been recorded feeding on mammal carcasses, presumably upon the decaying juices. Gu et al. (2014) observed females feeding on a red deer carcass for about one week, and on a two-week old carcass of a European bison.

Tabanus sudeticus breeds in boggy areas, although it seems that few larvae have ever been found. Andy Grayson suggests that the larval habitat of Tabanus sudeticus is bogs and boggy flushes, whereas the larval habitat of Tabanus bovinus will prove to be the margins of ponds and lakes.

Trapping & odour attractants

Some work has been done to test the effectiveness of different odour attractants for Tabanus sudeticus. In Croatia Krčmar et al. (2006) showed that canopy traps baited with cow urine collected many more Tabanus sudeticus females than did unbaited traps. However traps baited with aged horse, sheep, or pig urine were ineffective.

Nuisance value & Disease transmission

Although many tabanid bites are painful, very few are likely to have serious consequences. However, Quercia et al (2009) report that a bite by Tabanus bovinus/sudeticus can cause a systemic reaction - in severe cases including anaphylactic shock and death. I have personal experience of this since, when camping in the New Forest with my parents, a dark giant horsefly bit my father on the hand. A short time later his hand swelled up like a balloon and he was briefly hospitalized.

There are several similar accounts on the web, for example Simon Davey reported a severe reaction to a bite, although he thought that the chances of getting bitten by such a 'clumsy noisy beast' were very small. A quite different assessment of the 'threat level' is given by one of the contributors to the ranger's blog "Be very careful around them, they land ever so gently and you don't feel them until it's too late". This blog includes several reports of extreme swelling following a bite. It seems that horses also tend to swell up when bitten, and can show a very vigorous reaction when the flies land on them.


Austen, E.A. (1906). Illustrations of British blood-sucking flies. Full text

Gu, X. et al. (2014). Carcass ecology - more than just beetles. Entomologische berichten 74 (1-2), 421-424. Full text

Krčmar, S. (2005). Seasonal abundance of horseflies (Diptera: Tabanidae) from two locations in eastern Croatia. . Journal of Vector Ecology 30(2), 316-321. Full text

Krčmar, S. et al. (2006). Response of Tabanidae (Diptera) to different natural attractants. Journal of Vector Ecology 31(2), 262-265. Full text

Krčmar, S. & Maríc (2007). The role of blood meal in the life of haematophagous horse flies (Diptera: Tabanidae). Periodicum biologorum 112(2), 207-210. Full text

Aphis gossypii

Wingless females of Aphis gossypii are usually medium-sized and blackish green or dark green mottled with lighter green (see first two pictures below). In hot conditions or when crowded they are smaller, and these dwarf forms are a very pale whitish yellow (see third picture below). The dorsum has no dark sclerotized markings. The longest hairs on the third antennal segment are 0.3-0.5 times the basal diameter of that segment. The terminal process of the last antennal segment is 1.7-3.2 times the length of the base of that segment. The apical segment of the rostrum is 1.1 to 1.5 times as long as segment 2 of the hind tarsus. Marginal tubercles are only consistently present on abdominal tergites 1 and 7. The siphunculi are usually dark, but in the dwarf form they may be pale with dark tips. The siphunculi are 1.3-2.5 times as long as the cauda. The cauda is variable in colour from quite pale to dusky to quite dark but it is usually paler than the siphunculi and bears 4-8 hairs (cf. Aphis solanella and Aphis fabae, which have the cauda always dark like the siphunculi and bearing 7-24 hairs). The body length of adult Aphis gossypii apterae ranges from 0.9-1.8 mm.

Third image above copyright CSIRO under a creative commons 3.0 licence.

Aphis gossypii alates (see fourth picture above) have 6-12 secondary rhinaria distributed on the third antennal segment and usually none on the fourth .

Micrographs of whole mounts in alcohol are shown below.

The clarified slide mounts below are of adult viviparous female Aphis gossypii : wingless, and winged.

The melon- or cotton-aphid is highly polyphagous and does not usually host alternate, reproducing all year round on its chosen host (see below for exceptions to this). In temperate climates it is most often seen in glasshouses on cucurbits (cucumbers and marrows) and begonias, and in gardens on ornamental Hypericum species. In the tropics Aphis gossypii is a major pest of cotton. It is distributed almost worldwide, and is particularly abundant in the tropics.

Biology & Ecology:

Life cycle

    Several unrelated plants are utilised as primary hosts, including: the 'Indian bean tree' (Catalpa bignonioides), Korean rose, (Hibiscus syriacus), oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus), buckthorns (Rhamnus species) and pomegranate (Punica granatum).

In most of its geographical range Aphis gossypii consists of races, or divergent clones, which reproduce parthenogenetically.

Aphis gossypii often moves on to the flowers - the picture above shows them colonizing the flowers of Begonia grandis.


Aphis gossypii is quite variable in colour. The picture below shows a 'normal' coloured Aphis gossypii (mottled green) along with some darker aphids. It is possible that the darker aphids were also Aphis gossypii, since Aphis fabae is not recorded from this Hypericum species.

Alternatively this may be a mixed species colony. Our photos have revealed many examples of mixed species colonies, but these are seldom referred to in the literature and there has been little if any work on the dynamics of such colonies. Hill (1987) points out that many ecological studies have failed because of the inability of the observer/recorder to recognise a mixed species population.

The most extreme colour form is the dwarf yellow form, shown below on a cucumber leaf in a greenhouse in Belgium.

Both images above by permission, copyright Marina Dhondt, all rights reserved.

With this dwarf form the siphunculi are not black. As noted by Watt & Hales (1996), the siphunculi have just the apices the dark brown and the basal part yellow like the body. Production of yellow dwarfs in Aphis gossypii is very different from dwarfing produced through lack of nutrition. Although Aphis gossypii is well-known to show phenotypic plasticity in colour and size to an unusual degree even among aphids, the dwarf form seems to represent a distinct developmentally-programmed morph, in the same way as winged and wingless aphids do. Yellow dwarf Aphis gossypii have been observed in the field in Australia and in glasshouse conditions worldwide.

Ant attendance

Colonies may or may not be ant attended. One colony (see picture above) was found around a leaf petiole at junction of leaf and petiole of Hypericum androsaemum - no ants were attending the colony, but a Myrmica ant was feeding at an extra-floral nectary on the plant as shown in the picture below.

On other occasions ants were definitely attending the aphids, as shown above with a Lasius niger ant.

Other aphids on same host:

Secondary hosts

Blackman & Eastop list 10 species of aphid as feeding on St John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) worldwide, and provide formal identification keys (Show World list). Of those aphid species, Baker (2015) lists 8 as occurring in Britain (Show British list).

Damage and control

In temperate climates Aphis gossypii is considered an important pest of greenhouse crops such as cucurbits, and ornamentals such as Begonia and calla lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica). Insecticide treatment may be recommended. Outdoors Aphis gossypii is a pest of Hypericum androsaemum and Hypericum inodorum. Leaves may turn yellow and on ornamentals the large amounts of honeydew and exuvia may look unsightly. Soap solution may be used to reduce numbers. In the tropics it is a major pest of many crops including cotton, cucurbits, coffee, cocoa, peppers and okra. Aphis gossypii is known to transmit at least 50 plant viruses.


We are especially grateful to Marina Dhondt in Belgium for her pictures of the dwarf yellow form of Aphis gossypii on cucumbers.

Whilst we make every effort to ensure that identifications are correct, we cannot absolutely warranty their accuracy. We have mostly made identifications from high resolution photos of living specimens, along with host plant identity. In the great majority of cases, identifications have been confirmed by microscopic examination of preserved specimens. We have used the keys and species accounts of Blackman & Eastop (1994) and Blackman & Eastop (2006) supplemented with Blackman (1974), Stroyan (1977), Stroyan (1984), Blackman & Eastop (1984), Heie (1980-1995), Dixon & Thieme (2007) and Blackman (2010). We fully acknowledge these authors as the source for the (summarized) taxonomic information we have presented. Any errors in identification or information are ours alone, and we would be very grateful for any corrections. For assistance on the terms used for aphid morphology we suggest the figure provided by Blackman & Eastop (2006).

Useful weblinks


Blackman, R. L. & Eastop, V. (2006). Aphids on the World's Herbaceous Plants and Shrubs. Vols 1 & 2. J. Wiley & Sons, Chichester, UK. Full text

Hill, D.S. (1987). Agricultural insect pests of temperate regions and their control. CUP, Cambridge.

Stroyan, H.L.G. (1984). Aphids - Pterocommatinae and Aphidinae (Aphidini). Handbooks for the identification of British insects. 2(6) Royal Entomological Society of London.

Identification requests

I have attached a photo of a colony of what seems to be (following the account on your web site) Aphis chloris.

Image copyright Patrick Roper all rights reserved.

As well as my rather inconclusive photo, I have examined the insects with a high powered lens and they certainly agree with the general colour and configuration of your web site photos.

The ants, Lasius niger, are in constant attendance which would seem to be characteristic of true A. chloris rather than the unnamed lookalike. This and a nearby colony are on a plant of Hypericum androsaemum.

These aphids and ants occur in what I call my window box wildlife reserve where I have also recently recorded Aphis farinosa, again using your web site. The box has now been going for nearly nine years and I manage it mainly by watering in dry weather. It started as bare earth, so all species have found their way there under their own steam. Hopefully I will now be able to add to the aphid list.

If you have time I should be interested in your views on the Aphis chloris colony.

    Your aphids on Hypericum are in fact Aphis gossypii, and not Aphis chloris.

The aphids on that page of our website were unfortunately misidentified.

Aphis chloris lives low down at the base of the plant and (as far as we know) is restricted to Hypericum perforatum. The aphid we pictured - Aphis gossypii - lives high up on the stem and flowers - like the ones you found.

We will correct the website in the near future. [Now done.]

Which reminds me, I ought have said why our initial identification was problematical.

I have attached another picture of the Hypericum aphid. As you will see, the colonies are expanding.

Alderfly larvae (order Megaloptera, family Sialidae)

Predators actively searching the bottom for some smaller animals.

Alderfly larvae inhabit still waters and slow flowing sections of streams and rivers.

Larvae burrow in fine sediments at the bottom.

Mature larvae grow up to sizes around 30 mm.

Life cycle:
Alderflies undergo complete metamorphosis. Their life cycle includes four stages – egg, larva, pupa and adult. Fully grown larvae crawl out of the water and dig a cellar in damp soil to pupate. Alderflies require 1 or 2 years to an adult capable of reproduction.

Other characteristics:
elongated and flattened body head and thoracic segments sclerotized abdomen soft without hardened plates pairs of tapering filaments on the sides of abdomen each segmented leg ends with two tarsal claws single caudal filament with rows of short setae

Alderfly larvae ( Sialis lutaria ):

Emperor Moth Caterpillar

The Emperor caterpillar has yellow and black dots on its large green body

One of the larger green caterpillar species is the Emperor moth caterpillar (Saturnia pavonia). This caterpillar is from the Saturniidae family of insects.

As immature larvae, this species is black and orange. In its later stages, it turns green. You can identify this caterpillar by its black rings around the segments that feature orange and yellow spots. Looking up closely, you will notice tufts of tiny black hairs.

This is not a poisonous or stinging type of caterpillar. But, the spines are stiff and sharp and may cause some skin irritation.

Identifying features

A large plump green caterpillar with rows of yellow dots wrapping around each segment.

Great Black Wasp

The great black wasp is a very large wasp species, as its name infers. This wasp is black, mono-colored and without colored stripes, spots or other noticeable patterns on the body. Adult females of the species reach about 1-1 ½ inches long and are a little larger than the males.

Behavior, Diet & Habits

The commonly considered distribution of this wasp is the eastern 2/3 of the U.S. Great black wasps are not aggressive due to the fact they do not have a colony to defend and are categorized as solitary wasps. Although their common name sounds intimidating, their name comes from the size of the insect, rather than the aggressiveness of the insect. In fact, male adults do not have the ability to sting and their only purpose in nature is to mate. Females can sting, but only do so if their nest is threatened. Great black wasps are subterranean wasps, meaning they live underground and construct small underground nests where they care for their offspring.

These insects gather prey, most commonly grasshoppers, locusts, cicadas and other large, “fleshy” insects that they feed to their immature offspring. In areas where this insect lives, they can be seen flying with paralyzed insect prey in their mouth and stuffing the paralyzed insect into the underground nest. With all the hunting they do, it is necessary for the female adults to consume lots of high-energy food. Therefore, their primary food source is nectar from surrounding flowers.

Their preferred habitat is areas where prey is located, like meadows, pastures and residential areas where gardens, landscaping plants and flowers are found.


Since great black wasps are solitary wasps, they do not have a large colony to defend as do the social wasps. Therefore, they are not aggressive and only the female adult can sting. Even though they can sting, they do so only if provoked and they sense their nest is being threatened.

More Information

Since the great black wasp is not aggressive and is an important predator of harmful insects and a good pollinator of flowering plants, there is no reason for the homeowner to control them. However, if their presence alarms you, slowly and carefully move away from the wasp and contact your pest management professional for his advice and recommendations. The great black wasp is also known as the Katydid Hunter and Steel-blue Cricket Hunter.

Similarities Between Bugs and Insects

  • Both bugs and insects belong to the class Insecta.
  • Both bugs and insects are triploblastic, haemocelomic, invertebrate animals with bilateral symmetry.
  • Both bugs and insects consist of three pairs of jointed appendages since they belong to the phylum Arthropoda.
  • Both bugs and insects are composed of two pairs of wings.
  • Both bugs and insects are composed of compound eyes and two antennae in the head.
  • Both bugs and insects are mainly terrestrial.
  • The body of both bugs and insects is segmented into a head, thorax, and abdomen.
  • Both bugs and insects are composed of a chitinous exoskeleton.
  • Both bugs and insects have a complete digestive system.
  • Both bugs and insects have an open circulatory system.
  • Both bugs and insects are cold-blooded animals.
  • The excretion of bugs and insects occurs through Malpighian tubules.
  • The nervous system of both bugs and insects is composed of a brain and a ventral nerve cord.
  • Both bugs and insects are unisexual animals i.e. both sexes are separated.


Ladybugs, also called lady beetles or ladybird beetles, are a very beneficial group. They are natural enemies of many insects, especially aphids and other sap feeders. A single lady beetle may eat as many as 5,000 aphids in its lifetime. Many species of lady beetles are present in Kentucky and they are common in most habitats.

Adult lady beetles have very characteristic convex, hemispherical to oval shaped bodies that can be yellow, pink, orange, red, or black, and usually are marked with distinct spots. This is a type of warning coloration to discourage other animals that may try to eat them. Like many other brightly-colored insects, they are protected by an odorous, noxious fluid that seeps out of their joints when the insects are disturbed. The bright body coloration helps some predators to remember the encounter and avoid attacking insects with similar markings.

Figure 1. Lady beetle larva feeding on aphids
Figure 2. Cluster of lady beetle eggs

Adult females usually lay clusters of eggs on plants close to aphid, scale, or mealybug colonies. The alligator-like larvae are also predators. They are spiny and black with bright spots. Although they look dangerous, lady beetle larvae are quite harmless to humans. After feeding on insect prey for several weeks, the larva pupates on a leaf. Adults tend to move on once pests get scarce, while the larvae remain and search for more prey.

Some lady beetle species have several generations each year while others have only one. During the summer months, all stages often can be found at the same time. Adults of some species spend the winter clustered together in large groups under leaf litter, rocks, or other debris.

Common Kentucky Lady Beetles

While there are many species of lady beetles in Kentucky, a few are very common in agricultural fields, home gardens and landscapes, and wooded areas. These include: Coleomegilla maculata, sometimes called the pink spotted lady beetle has a medium-sized, oblong pink to red body marked with black spots. Both adults and larvae are important aphid predators but also eat mites, insect eggs, and small larvae. Unlike most lady beetles, plant pollen may make up to 50% of the diet.

Figure 3. Coleomegilla maculata is a pink lady beetle and is very common.

Harmonia axyridis, the Asian lady beetle, a large orange lady beetle that may or may not have spots. The segment over the head is white with a black ‘M’. In the fall, aggregations of Asian lady beetle find their way into homes. These beetles are a nuisance and can ruin rugs and other furniture with their secretions. Fortunately, they do not breed or feed inside the home. For complete information on managing Asian lady beetle problems in the home, See ENTFACT-416, “Asian Lady Beetle Infestation of Structures.”

Figure 4. Asian lady beetle is a beneficial insect in the field and nuisance pest in homes.

Hippodamia convergens, the convergent lady beetle, a medium sized orange and black species that is commonly sold for biological control of aphids.

Figure 5. Convergent lady beetle and larva in common and can be purchased commercially.

Coccinella septempunctata, sevenspotted lady beetle, sometimes called ‘C-7', is a medium-sized, orange beetle with seven black spots. It is a European species that was introduced into the US to aid in managing some aphid pests.

Figure 6. Seven-spotted lady beetle is common on many crops.

Plant Feeding Lady Beetles?

There two species of lady beetles in Kentucky that feed on plants rather than insects. They are the Mexican bean beetle and the squash beetle. Both are very easy to recognize. Mexican bean beetle adults, which feed on garden beans and occasionally soybeans, have orange bodies with eight black spots on each wing cover, Squash beetles, which attack squash, pumpkin, and cantaloupe, have only seven spots. The larvae are also very distinctive and shouldn't be mistaken for predaceous larvae, because they have large forked spines across their yellowish orange bodies.

Figure 7. While the squash beetle is a type of lady beetle, these feed only on plants and are considered pests.
Figure 8. Mexican bean beetle attacks many different types of beans feeding on the undersides of leaves.
Figure 9, Larvae of the Mexican bean beetle and squash beetle with their yellow bodies and spines look very different from other lady beetle larvae.

Conserving Lady Beetles

Lady beetles can play an important role in managing some insect pests in crops and landscapes. Here are some things that you can do to maximize their impact.

  1. Learn to recognize the different stages of these beneficial insects.
  2. Make insecticide applications only when necessary and use selective insecticides or limited treatments to avoid killing lady beetles.Add plants that can provide pollen and nectar for lady beetles. These are important components of the diets of some species.

CAUTION! Pesticide recommendations in this publication are registered for use in Kentucky, USA ONLY! The use of some products may not be legal in your state or country. Please check with your local county agent or regulatory official before using any pesticide mentioned in this publication.


Watch the video: Rickert Insect Box vs Pinning Bugs. What is that bug - Insect Identification for kids AMI Studios (May 2022).