Category: flying

Study Opp.  Here is an appropriately named bee.  Andrena ziziae.  It is a specialist on…Zizia (Golden Alexanders or its 2 sisters (presumably)).  Now Zizia is widely planted, but is Andrena ziziae benefiting?  Does it leave its wildish landscapes to move into the mulch puddles of its pollen plant that now dot suburbia?   [Side bar.  Like in the old days where marks and signs were used to identify safe houses for repressed groups who were on the lam, the presence of a Zizia planting in your yard identifies you (at least to me) as a gentle progressive and makes me smile]  So, back to the original point.  It would be interesting to check out all these plantings to see if any of them are fraternizing with this bee.  Just so you know, this is a small bee, about ½ the size of the honey bee.  Wimpy sting too, can’t even penetrate a baby’s skin.  This bee was collected by Ai Wen in Iowa and the photo taken by Cole Cheng.  

Monarch Food Starter Package.  The fairyesque seed of  Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed) the workhorse milkweed for Monarch caterpillar support (and bunches of other insect species that are not as charismatic …. at least to the general public).  Photo by Cole Cheng.  Seed from the Native Bee Lab’s Monarch Support Area (This means we have fields that we mow only once a year in winter – not lawn/not forest = Monarchs)    

Here is the only Zadontomerus of the Eastern U.S. (Note:  I will give anyone $100.00 if they name their kid Zadontomerus … first names only).  Ceratina cockerelli.  The other more blueish species are all in the subgenus Ceratinula (also a good name for a child).  As an aside, giving a child a “different” name is always a plus in my book, it is like feeding them linguistical antibodies, for example, they are way less likely to spend all day on a cell phone if their name is Zadontomerus than Tim.  No one does their child a favor by naming them Tim.  Ok, back to bees (society building is always exhausting).  This species is small more black green than blue green and smaller and more southern than the others.  It possibly is also more fond of sandy environs.   Like other species of Ceratina it likely builds its nest in the cut stems of plants.  Not much is know about this species life history, so if you are looking for things to do then studying this species nesting biology should be right up there.  Photo taken by Sierra Williams. 

Wicked Wasp Week #8.  

Looking unsettled, slightly sprung in the mind, angry at the world and ready to raid a nearby village…Polistes exclamans, female, Beltsville, Maryland, Head.  A social wasp queen from early spring 2013.

This is Megachile coquilletti

a small bee from Yolo County in California. “This bee was collected in the California Central Valley in Yolo County for research on small-scale restoration in agricultural areas. Claire Kremen’s 10-year study of hedgerows shows the benefits of planting native shrubs and forbs in agricultural areas for native bees. To learn more about the Kremen Lab and hedgerows, see <a href="https://nature.berkeley.edu/kremenlab/&quot” rel=“noreferrer nofollow”>nature.berkeley.edu/kremenlab/&quot</a>;

A large Hoplitis, (Hoplitis spoliata)

that occurs throughout most of North America East of the Rockies.  Occurs in low numbers at most locations, in the Mid-Atlantic is is a June bee and associated with what would appear to be mostly Woody blooming plants.   Something to consider in your planting pollinator plans… don’t forget the blooming shrubs and small trees. Photo by Brooke Goggins.      

Augochlora regina, female, March 2012 Dominican Republic, formerly A. elegans.

Range Jumper.  This range jumper jumped from Illinois to Virginia. Osmia illinoensis. There are no records in between. How odd….this is a rare bee in its limited range in the Midwest and to find it all the way in the Mountains of Virginia seems near fantastical, but there it is and more than one specimen too.  Also interesting to note that all the other Osmia in the East range from Black to dark metallic blue…nothing like this green bling, so its not like it was overlooked by past bee workers.
The identification was confirmed by Molly Rightmyer. Good work Virginia Heritage People (Ellison Orcutt) who found this rare bee (as well as others) by starting to do surveys in the corners of the state.   Photo by Brooke Goggins.    

Augochlorella persimillis.  

A small but blingiful green bee.  

Oft confused with A. aurata and an interesting distribution, more MidWest but seemingly stops short of making it all the way to the East Coast…or does it?  Some East Coast specimens look pretty much like this species, need to get out the molecular guns on those.  Brooke Goggins is photographer.  Mark Hepner caught this gal in West Virginia where the controversy of Augochlorella identification rages in every bar.  

Background fun.  Note that in one picture in this series we put a background of grass in our mini-insect studio in front of the black velvet curtain.  What do you think …pro? con?
This is Anthidium illustre a snappy looking beast from the Rocky Mountains west.  I know that this specimen came from Clare Kremen’s group and am pretty sure it came from their Central Valley Yolo County hedgerow study.  Photos by Anders Croft.