ID Challenge #18

It’s time for another identification challenge. Currently we are in Challenge Session #6, with two challenges down (SSC#12 and IDC#17) and probably four more to go (including this one). Can you identify the critter in this photo? I’ll give 2 pts each for class, order, family and genus.

I think it would be good to restate the ground rules that I use in these challenges, as they have evolved somewhat since I first began these challenges and don’t seem to be easily accessible in their entirety to those who have begun participating more recently. They are:

  1. Points will be awarded for correctly named taxa—usually 2 pts each for order, family, genus and species.
  2. Points will only be awarded for the taxa requested.
  3. Taxa must be correctly spelled to receive full credit (this includes italicization for genus and species—and yes, italicization is easy in HTML, just look it up). Misspelled or non-italicized names may receive partial credit.
  4. Taxa must be explicitly stated to receive full credit. For example, if I request order, family, genus and species for Buprestis rufipes, but only genus and species are given in the answer, then “Coleoptera” and “Buprestidae” are “implied” taxa. I can’t give full credit for implied taxa but may give partial credit.
  5. In the case of outdated nomenclature, I won’t judge too harshly if the taxon is obscure or there is still disagreement about rank. However, obvious or easily referenced obsolescences (e.g. “Homoptera”) will get dinged.
  6. Bonus points may be given (at my discretion) for providing additional relevant information (e.g., diagnostic characters, biological/ecological uniquities, clever jokes, etc.). I’m more inclined to give bonus points for unusual features of biology/morphology/ecology, etc. that are not readily found in easily-found, Wikipedia-type summaries of the subject.
  7. Be sure to examine each post carefully in its entirety for the possible presence of clues🙂
  8. Comments will be moderated during the 1- to 2-day open challenge period to allow all a chance to participate (i.e., you don’t have to be first to win!).
  9. In the case of multiple correct answers, “early-bird” tie-breaker points will be awarded to those that answered correctly first. The more people you beat to the punch with the correct answer, the more early-bird points you get.
  10. Submitted answers will be revealed at the end of the challenge period along with the number of points earned. This is generally followed closely by a new post discussing the subject in greater detail. Also, because I’m such a big Survivor and Jeff Probst fan, I’ll also say that “once the points are read the decision is final!”
  11. Winners of individual challenges get nothing more than my accolades; however, session winners get real loot! Thus, it pays to play consistently and try even when you don’t think you know the answer. Top three points earners at the end of each session (usually 5 to 6 individual challenges) get to choose from selection of gifts that will be communicated to the winners by email.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2012

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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41 Responses to ID Challenge #18

  1. Stephen Thorpe says:

    its a cockroach!

  2. Sam Heads says:

    Class: Insecta
    Order: Blattaria (=Blattodea)
    Family: Blaberidae
    Genus: Perisphaerus
    Commonly referred to as “pill roaches” due to their superficial resemblance to pill bugs.

  3. My first thought was that this was a pill millipede or maybe a leaf beetle, but then I saw the antenna. It reminded me of a cockroach, and after doing some searching I came across the roach Genus Perisphaerus (Class–Insecta, Order–Blattodea, Family–Blaberidae). Of the three species that I could find reported from Vietnam I could only find photos of P. punctatus, but they looked like a pretty good match.

    • Nice – full credit for the ID (8 pts) plus 3 early-bird pts. I’ll also give you a bonus point for catching the Vietnam clue and narrowing down the number of possible species.

      Total = 12 pts

  4. Ben Coulter says:

    Class Insecta
    Order Blattodea
    Family Blaberidae
    Perisphaerus sp.

  5. Dennis Haines says:

    Class: Malacostraca
    Order: Isopoda
    Family: Armadillidiidae
    Genus: Armadillidium
    Species: vulgare

    Visible are the uropods tucked in on either side of the last abdominal segment (lower half of the picture). Their bases may give one the appearance of eyes at the back end. Above that you can see some of the legs and tarsi, and just above the legs you have the head and compound eyes tucked under in a protective mode. Above the downward facing head are the larger and more widely spaced thoracic segments. At the margin of each abdominal segment is a rather prominent spiracle.

  6. Tim Eisele says:

    Vietnam? Well, that’s certainly a change from South America! Is the story as good as the picture?

    It looks like the head is on top, so the rear is divided into multiple small segments instead of one big segment, meaning it isn’t a pill millipede (order Glomerida or Sphaerotheriida). So it is most likely Crustacea; order Isopodia; family Armadillidiidae.

    It does *not* look like the only one of these I’ve ever seen first-hand, though (Armadillidium vulgare, which we have scads of), because the head of this one is tucked underneath the first-segment shield while our local roly-polies have a distinctly visible head.

    Just to take a stab at the genus, I see a few references to the genus Schizidium being in Southeast Asia, so that will do as well as any, I guess. I’ll have to keep looking to see what else can be turned up.

    • Sorry – the obvious track wasn’t the right one in this case.

      I never turn anyone away emptyhanded, so you do get a bonus point for catching the Vietnam clue and a pity point to boot!

      Total = 2 pts

  7. Roy says:

    Class: Diplopoda
    Order: Sphaerotheriida
    Family: Sphaerotheriidae
    Genus: Sphaerotherium sp.

  8. Joey says:

    I’ll guess that it’s Malacostraca Isopoda Armadillidiidae Armadillidium.

  9. Dennis Haines says:

    I’m throwing out my first identification. First impressions are always best, and my first thought that what I could see of the head was cockroach-like. So I’m going with Class, Insecta; Order, Dictyoptera (Blattodea); Family Blaberidae; Genus, ?. Beyond that I’m lost. You can see the thorax, with the head and compound eye barely visible underneath. One antenna is protruding from the region of the legs along the ventral surface of the abdomen. Legs and tarsi are also visible, and the two jointed “eyes” on the terminal segment of the abdomen are what remains of the reduced cerci. It was the exposed spiracles on each abdominal segment that really got me thinking. The lack of more visible legs was also troubling. Hopefully I’m closer!

    I tried looking for species with these characters in the Southeast Asian fauna (Vietnam), but I couldn’t come up with a key, pictorial or otherwise.

    • Dennis Haines says:

      Oooh, oooh….I think I’m getting closer!!! Perisphaerus is the genus.🙂 Now which species?

      • Dennis Haines says:

        Okay, I think its Perisphaerus punctatus…..fingers crossed….just like the specimen in the picture! There were three species listed for Vietnam, but this is the best fit!

        • I’m not sure the species can be ID’d based on this photo. Make a case for it and I’ll reconsider.

          • Dennis Haines says:

            I found pictures P. semilunulatus (tannish in color) and P. multipunctatus (dull black with more sculpturing). Of the three known species punctatus is the only one that is polished black with the evenly scattered punctures on the three thoracic segments, and the pictures are an excellent match. But of course this assumes that it is one of the three Vietnamese species. There was another species from Cambodia, P. lunulatus, but the shape of the anterior segment was wrong and both the punctation and lack of polish ruled it out.

            • Dennis Haines says:

              Points have been awarded, so nothing is expected. I just thought you might like to know my reasoning.! Cheers!!!

            • You make a good but not quite convincing case. The provenance of the photos you cite and their authority is unknown, and something tells me that pronotal color and punctation alone are probably not sufficient even to distinguish the known species, much less distinguish known from unknown. Also, the photo of “P. semilunulatus” in Eisner & Eisner (2002) appears to me rather darkly colored. All in all, I’m not comfortable awarding points when I can’t be confident myself.

      • …and the correct genus earns another 2 pts plus 1 early-bird point.

        Total = 10 pts

    • Good thing you paid attention to your first impressions!

      Class, order and family in this part of your answer earn 6 pts, and mentioning the Vietnam clue a bonus pt…

  10. James C. Trager says:

    This looks like a pill miillipede, maybe Glomeris marginata (Diplopoda: Glomerida: Glomeridae). However, I am given pause by its light colored legs, since most available images of G. marginata have legs as dark in color, or close, as the tergites.

  11. Brady Richards says:

    Holy conglobulation, Batman! I took a look at this late last night and immediately had the phylogeny typed out for Armadillidium along with a pun about being on the same foot and a pop culture reference to show that I did my homework to eliminate all the other genera in the Armadillidiidae. For the record: Greece is the word. Fortunately, the legs were screaming at me that I was wrong. There are only six legs so it’s an insect. And those legs! Spines everywhere, tarsi five-segmented, and an arolium?!? This one has had me puzzled, but I think I’m on the right track now.

    Class: Insecta
    Order: Blattodea
    Family: Blaberidae
    Genus: Perisphaerus — best guess, anyway

    This was a neat one and definitely earns a “waka waka waka” from me.

    • Full credit for the ID (8 pts), although several others got their answers in earlier to win bonus pts. However, I’m giving you 4 bonus pts – 2 for being the only one to introduce the word “conglobulation” to the conversation, and two more for using it to coin the phrase that became the title of the answer post – pure gold!

      Total = 12 pts

  12. Greg Davis says:

    Order: Isopoda
    Suborder: Oniscidea
    Family: Armadillidiidae
    Genus: Armadillidium (Brandt, 1833)
    Species: vulgare (Latrielle, 1804)

    A. vulgare is too obvious – this is more likely one of the other 177 species of Armadillidium, perhaps one that you found in Argentina.

  13. As has been revealed in the post, Holy conglobulation, Batman!, this is a cockroach (and not a roly-poly or millipede). Accepted answers are as follows:
    Class: Insecta (or Hexapoda)
    Order: Blattodea (or Blattaria, Dictyoptera)
    Family: Blaberidae
    Genus: Perisphaerus

    I’ll award points for submitted answers and tally them up, then announce the winner in an edit to answer post.

  14. Tashia says:

    I am a rooky at this however I love a challenge. I am working on something similar at the moment and I am thinking it is an Isopoda. I am not formally doing this for point’s nor do I know if I am invited but I thought it might be fun to give an answer.

    • Hi Tashia—thanks for playing, but the answer has already been posted above. Super Crop Challenge #14 is still open right now, and all are invited to play. I’ll hold your answer until the end of the challenge period (usually 2–3 days or so)—when I post an answer in the comments, then the challenge is over.

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