May 9th – Guest Post about medical arthropod bycatch and updates

Hello everyone!

This week, our student worker R. Dini is doing a guest post on two groups of bycatch that we have found in our bowls that are of medical importance. See the information below.


Ticks and Mosquitoes; Diseases in Central Ohio by R. Dini 

An American dog tick found in the kit by D. Winstel

In one of our recent bycatch we have discovered an American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis), one of the most common ticks found in wooded areas and fields. The America Dog tick is the most common tick in Central Ohio. It carries a bacteria that causes Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) which is presented as a fever followed by a distinct rash. There were only 23 confirmed cases of RMSF in Ohio last year. These ticks are more likely to be out during spring and summer seasons while being dormant during the fall and winter seasons. 

A Lone Star tick photographed by MaLisa

The Lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum) is mostly in Southern Ohio and are found mainly in grasslands. One of the most common diseases developed through the bite of a Lone star tick is ehrlichiosis. It often presents as a fever within 14 days of a tick bite. In 2018, 1,700 people were diagnosed with ehrlichiosis in the United States

Of course, there is also Lyme disease, which is vectored by the black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis). There were 39 verified cases of Lyme disease in humans in Ohio in 2020Although it can be hard to tell if you have been bitten by a tick some signs include redness or irritation at the site of the bite that can look like a blister. A small area of redness might not be something to worry about but if the area expands it is time to see a doctor. Symptoms of an infected tick bite can take anywhere from 24 hours to 3 weeks to occur. Before going outside and into the woods this summer be sure to prepare by using some form of insect repellent and safe clothing. Be sure to always do a tick check once you return from outside. 

(Editor’s note: be sure to also check your dogs for ticks! Many dogs can get both Lyme and Ehrlichiosis, which MaLisa found out the hard way after her dog tested positive for both) 

Thankfully, we have not found that many ticks in our bowl trap samples, which is not that surprising as ticks are attracted to carbon dioxide, so unlikely to randomly find our cups. 

We don’t have any photos of the mosquitos that have been caught in the traps since the mosquitos squish so much. However, here is a photo of an Aedes mosquito feeding on MaLisa after she set her traps last year.

 We have also gotten a few mosquitoes in our traps. Though most mosquitoes are likely able to escape the traps since they are used to escaping water when they go from pupa to adultMosquitos carry various diseases, some of which can be fatal. One of the most common diseases carried by mosquitos in Ohio would be the West Nile Virus (WNV) which is commonly transmitted through the Northern house mosquito (Culex pipiens), though many other mosquito species are also vectors. There were only 3 cases of WNV in humans in Ohio in 2020.

Mosquitos can be quite colorful with ornate patterns, like this Aedes albopictus mosquito from central Ohio.

It is hard to identify mosquitos to species as they are small and difficult to see diagnostic characters. Mosquitos are most abundant in the summer months up until early October. Their loud buzzing can be extremely annoying and are often found in areas near water as they are known to inhabit these places to lay eggs. The best method to avoid having a surplus of mosquitos around your area would be to get rid of sitting water (including cleaning gutters) and install screens to windows to minimize travel of insects within your home.


Bowl Progress Updates: 

Last week we finished sorting 5 kits:  the rest of the kit by D. Heistand (Darke County), D. Drum (Clark County), J. Richards (Adams County), MaLisa Spring (Muskingum County), and Denise Ellsworth (Stark County). We are over 25,372 bees pinned and databased! We have also now sorted over 62 kits and we are slowly picking up speed.

Since we had a guest post this week, I will save the bycatch information from these kits and post about them next week.

We also made it out to Dawes to grab more kits from their freezer that they have been letting us use. We finally cleared out most of our lab freezer, so we needed a few more kits to sort.

Our lab freezer was finally looking sparse after delivering the bycatch and sorting through so many kits!

We have made decent progress in clearing out the chest freezer at Dawes, which is about half empty now too!


Helping in the lab in the age of Covid:

We had three volunteers in our lab this week! We greatly appreciate their help processing specimens. I know everyone wants to go out and enjoy the nice weather now, so any help is greatly appreciated.

Thanks to everyone this week who helped us pin even more specimens!

Wondering how you can help speed up our process? If you would like to come to the lab in Newark, there are several tasks that people can participate in. We will mostly have people start with pinning bees, but people can also be trained to sort bees from bycatch in samples, label specimens, or other lab tasks.

You do not have to be a collector to help out in the lab. You also do not have to help for the entire timeslot for a particular day, so if you are only interested in helping out for an hour or three, that still works. No one is obligated to spend the whole day pinning bees.

The lab is open to people interested in helping pin or sort specimens on a limited basis. The following caveats must be reached: 1)  you have been vaccinated against covid, or 2) you have already gotten covid and recovered. If you fit one of these exceptions and want to come to the lab to help out, please sign up here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090F4BAEAC2EA6F58-beepinning

Note we are still required to have masks on while on OSU property. We are still limiting our rooms to a maximum of 3 people, but we have additional classrooms down the hall to expand our capacity if more people want to volunteer at once.

Want to see how to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in Ohio? See the vaccine distribution website here: https://vaccine.coronavirus.ohio.gov/

All for now,

MaLisa

May 2 – Bee Updates + Pseudoscorpion Bycatch!

Last week we finished sorting 4 kits:  G. Piper (Coshocton County), P. Lowe (Morgan County), C. Kimmel (Gallia County), J. Bugner (Seneca County), and started the kit by D. Heistand (Darke County). We are over 24,673 bees pinned and databased!

We have been slowly and steadily pinning more bees. Once we get students in working full time and volunteers, perhaps we will see a sharp increase in our pinning rate?

We also interviewed several potential new student workers, so we should be hiring a few to work in the lab soon. Our current student workers have been busy with finals and other obligations, so they have not been in as much. But in a few weeks our lab should be really bustling (and everyone will be fully vaccinated!)

Another update is that our lab will be moving to a new building soon and we got to check out the new facility! There is still a decent amount of construction to be done, but we should be in the new space by the end of June.

They still need to fix the lighting and ceiling, but this will be our new lab space! It is on the 3rd floor and we get 3 large windows overlooking campus.

I also dropped off a batch of bycatch insects to the Triplehorn Insect Collection where hopefully other researchers will use them to learn about the wasps, ants, and other weird bugs. I also dropped off the spiders, so lots of fun things being shared with researchers.


Bycatch of the week:

There were several fun non-bee finds this week!

We got our first Pseudoscorpion!!! Now before you freak out, if you have never heard of these before, it is important to know that Pseudoscoprions are small. Very small. See next image and description. This specimen was in the kit by J. Bugner from Seneca County, but we expect Pseudoscorpions across all of Ohio.

Pseudoscorpion with rice for scale. Despite looking like a real scorpion, Pseudoscorpions are tiny in comparison and lack the typical scorpion tail. They are so small they are essentially harmless to humans. These are known to hitch rides on beetles and flies, so the pseudoscorpion likely just picked the wrong fly to ride. There is even an iNaturalist project for Pseudoscorpions hitching rides. See: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=any&project_id=phoretic-pseudoscorpions&verifiable=any

We also got our first Bristle Millipede! Though our specimen is in a bit rough shape, it is cool to see that we got one. This was also collected by J. Bugner in Seneca County. They typically live in leaf litter and are decomposers. Learn more about Ohio’s Millipedes in the free ODNR guide to millipedes here: https://ohiodnr.gov/static/documents/wildlife/backyard-wildlife/Millipedes+of+Ohio+Pub+5527.pdf

We also had a pink grass fly from Heistand’s kit. This is the first record of this genus in Ohio on iNaturalist, so that is cool. The genus has been reported from Ohio historically, but it seems like there are not a lot of recent records.

This beetle was found by P. Lowe in Morgan County. At half the size of a grain of rice (on right), it isn’t much to look at. However, it does have a cool life history! Most beetles in the family Buprestidae bore into wood (hence the common name wood boring beetle). But this beetle is instead a leafminer in sedges. See example leaf mine here: https://bugguide.net/node/view/1668703/bgimage

 


Helping in the lab in the age of Covid:

We had three  volunteers in our lab this week! We greatly appreciate their help processing specimens. I know everyone wants to go out and enjoy the nice weather now, so any help is greatly appreciated.

Wondering how you can help speed up our process? If you would like to come to the lab in Newark, there are several tasks that people can participate in. We will mostly have people start with pinning bees, but people can also be trained to sort bees from bycatch in samples, label specimens, or other lab tasks.

You do not have to be a collector to help out in the lab. You also do not have to help for the entire timeslot for a particular day, so if you are only interested in helping out for an hour or three, that still works. No one is obligated to spend the whole day pinning bees.

The lab is open to people interested in helping pin or sort specimens on a limited basis. The following caveats must be reached: 1)  you have been vaccinated against covid, or 2) you have already gotten covid and recovered. If you fit one of these exceptions and want to come to the lab to help out, please sign up here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090F4BAEAC2EA6F58-beepinning

Note we are still required to have masks on while on OSU property. We are still limiting our rooms to a maximum of 3 people, but we have additional classrooms down the hall to expand our capacity if more people want to volunteer at once.

Want to see how to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in Ohio? See the vaccine distribution website here: https://vaccine.coronavirus.ohio.gov/

All for now,

MaLisa

April 26 – Bowl Survey Updates

Last week we finished sorting 2 kits:  the rest of the kit by D. and V. Echternacht (Auglaize County) and the kit by S. Weade (Fayette County). We are over 23,283  bees pinned and databased. We had a slightly slower week with a student worker off and I also took Thursday off from the lab. However, thanks to our volunteers on Tuesday, we still made decent progress!

We still managed to pin almost 1,000 bees last week!


Bee Updates:

It has been a bit since I have talked about bees beyond the numbers per week. Well, check out these Mason bees (Osmia spp) from a few weeks ago. There are mason bees out flying now, but many people do not realize how much size variation there is between species. We have not been getting a lot of Osmia‘s in our samples, but this kit did have a couple specimens, so I decided to get a photo showing the size difference.

Differences in sizes of Osmia species

Closer view of the different Osmia mason bees. Most of the common mason bees will be on the smaller size, similar to the one on the right.


Specialist bee project:

We are making good progress on the specialist bee sampling! Below is an example shot of a single 15-minute sample from Spring Beauties, though most of my samples so far have averaged only 1-3 bees. Lots of cool things to be found this summer (though I will still be in the lab most of the time to deal with our backlog). I’m happy to see that there are already over 60 plant observations on our iNaturalist project, so hopefully we get some good data out of all of these.

Example sample from specialist bee project with piece of flower that accidentally fell into the net.


Helping in the lab in the age of Covid:

We had two volunteers in our lab this week! We greatly appreciate their help processing specimens.

Our volunteers happily showing off two of the boxes they helped fill with bees!

Wondering how you can help speed up our process? If you would like to come to the lab in Newark, there are several tasks that people can participate in. We will mostly have people start with pinning bees, but people can also be trained to sort bees from bycatch in samples, label specimens, or other lab tasks.

You do not have to be a collector to help out in the lab. You also do not have to help for the entire timeslot for a particular day, so if you are only interested in helping out for an hour or three, that still works. No one is obligated to spend the whole day pinning bees.

The lab is open to people interested in helping pin or sort specimens on a limited basis. The following caveats must be reached: 1)  you have been vaccinated against covid, or 2) you have already gotten covid and recovered. If you fit one of these exceptions and want to come to the lab to help out, please sign up here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090F4BAEAC2EA6F58-beepinning

Note we are still required to have masks on while on OSU property. We are still limiting our rooms to a maximum of 3 people, but we have additional classrooms down the hall to expand our capacity if more people want to volunteer at once.

Want to see how to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in Ohio? See the vaccine distribution website here: https://vaccine.coronavirus.ohio.gov/

All for now,

MaLisa

April 19th – Hover flies and other updates!

We interrupt our regularly scheduled update post to do a guest post by our student worker, Eleanor. She has been working with the hover fly bycatch that also ended up in the bowl traps. The normal weekly updates will be below.


Hello everyone! My name is Eleanor and I’m happy to share some hover fly updates. I’m a student research assistant in the lab and am currently working on a hover fly research project. As mentioned in previous blog posts, the bee bowls trapped a number of other insects, called by-catch. The by-catch included quite a few hover flies, which I’m now using for my project. This will be the first statewide effort to document hoverflies since 1913. We have already pinned over 2,500 hover fly specimens and have identified over 900 at least to the genus level.

Examples of some of our more common hoverflies

Hover flies, also called flower flies or syrphid flies, are a family of flower-visiting flies that have nectar-drinking adults and are considered pollinators of many plant species. The name hover fly was given to them because they’re often seen hovering mid-air. They mimic bees and wasps to ward off predators, and are commonly mistaken for them. However, hover flies don’t sting or bite. It is estimated that over 400 hover fly species are in the Northeastern United States.

Without checking iNaturalist, do you have any guesses what this mystery larvae would be? Grain of rice for scale.

Congrats to Dr. Richard Bradley for guessing the mystery larvae correctly last week – it is indeed a hover fly larva! Hover flies act as both pollinators and predators of other insects. Around one-third of hover fly larvae feed on soft-bodied insects like aphids and thrips which makes them beneficial to have in agricultural areas, where they can act as biological controls and help manage agricultural pests through predation.

If you’d like to see what a hover fly larva looks like when they emerge into an adult, this video is for you!

 

Being true flies, hover flies possess only one pair of wings, whereas other flying insects possess two pairs of wings. That is one way to quickly determine whether you are looking at a fly or a bee. Hover flies also lack the long antennae that most bees and wasps have. Their antennae are aristate, which means they have three main segments plus a hair on the final segment.

A close up view of the aristate antennae

My research objectives are to determine how the landscape affects the abundance and diversity of hoverflies in Ohio. I aim to answer the following questions:

(i) Does hover fly abundance correlate with overall bee abundance? We hypothesize that ecosystems with higher numbers of bees will have higher numbers of hover flies. A correlation between hoverfly abundance and bee abundance would suggest that hoverflies and bees respond to the same kinds of environmental factors, such as flowers and habitat quality.

(ii) How does landscape impact hover fly abundance and species diversity? We hypothesize that urbanization negatively affects hoverfly abundance while factors such as increased forest cover around a collection site will positively affect hoverfly abundance and diversity.

 

Toxomerus marginatus

Toxomerus is by far the most abundant genus we’ve collected. Out of 953 specimens, 834 are Toxomerus, which makes up 87% of the identified specimens. The two most common species in the genera are Toxomerus marginatus and Toxomerus geminatus. Eumerus and Paragus are slightly more abundant than the other genera we’ve seen.

Toxomerus makes up the bulk of the hoverfly abundance

When we compare the total number of bees to the total number of hover flies, there is a relationship (as of now) indicating there may be a correlation between hoverfly abundance and bee abundance. This would support our hypothesis that hoverflies and bees respond to the same kinds of environmental factors.

Preliminary data of sites comparing number of bees versus number of hoverflies

Abundance of hover flies varies by site. Some sites that were sampled have much higher numbers of hover flies than others. As of now, the site with the highest abundance of hover flies is at the Oakwoods Nature Preserve, with a total of 235 specimens collected. It will be interesting to see what the landscape looks like at sites with higher abundances compared to sites that have relatively low abundances of hover flies. The landscape distribution and the impact of landscape on hover fly abundance and diversity will be analyzed by correlating hoverfly abundance and diversity with landscape data from the National Land Cover Database.

The five sites with the most hover flies are listed above. All other sites sorted so far have under 100 hover fly specimens, with an average of only 48 hover flies (and median of only 30 hover flies).

If you’re interested, feel free to listen to a recorded presentation I did on my hover fly research for the 2021 OSU Newark Research Forum. The hover fly presentation starts at 1:23, but there are also several research presentations on covid and molecular research before that.

Link to OSU Newark Research Forum: https://osu.zoom.us/rec/play/U6UL4VgvJ1K45BGUv9M60yGI42L9iAtiT_fIpeLdgp1jiJVIQ2wmCHwwoxBePS031N1yRq7gyy_WuVBf.QePQhZ4BSxXsTT0W?continueMode=true&_x_zm_rtaid=9FLmrU5ZTiuDByIwBnkNqw.1618353519541.84a2d7d1a10124701c7748bdd203876f&_x_zm_rhtaid=68

Relevant hover fly paper: There was a paper published at the end of 2020 that discusses the diversity and floral associations of hover flies in Southern Illinois. Their objectives are similar to ours and their geographic proximity to Ohio provides some insight as to what we might see. See: https://bdj.pensoft.net/article/57331/


Last week we finished sorting 4 kits:  K. Thompson (Hardin County),  L. Weber (Ashland County), K. Caito (Perry County), C. Margetiak (Huron Co) and started sorting the kit by D. and V. Echternacht (Auglaize County). We are over 22,267 bees pinned and databased. We have sorted at least 50 of the kits, but still plenty of kits left to sort. I was working on project logistics for the specialist bee project, so no new progress on identification.

Thanks to the continued help of more volunteers last week, we were able to keep up our higher rate of pinning!


Helping in the lab in the age of Covid:

We had two volunteers in our lab this week! We greatly appreciate their help processing specimens.

Wondering how you can help speed up our process? If you would like to come to the lab in Newark, there are several tasks that people can participate in. We will mostly have people start with pinning bees, but people can also be trained to sort bees from bycatch in samples, label specimens, or other lab tasks.

You do not have to be a collector to help out in the lab. You also do not have to help for the entire timeslot for a particular day, so if you are only interested in helping out for an hour or three, that still works. No one is obligated to spend the whole day pinning bees.

The lab is open to people interested in helping pin or sort specimens on a limited basis. The following caveats must be reached: 1)  you have been vaccinated against covid, or 2) you have already gotten covid and recovered. If you fit one of these exceptions and want to come to the lab to help out, please sign up here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090F4BAEAC2EA6F58-beepinning

Note we are still required to have masks on while on OSU property. We are still limiting our rooms to a maximum of 3 people, but we have additional classrooms down the hall to expand our capacity if more people want to volunteer at once.

Want to see how to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in Ohio? See the vaccine distribution website here: https://vaccine.coronavirus.ohio.gov/

All for now,

MaLisa

April 11th – Specialist Bee Guide now available!

Last week we finished sorting 4 kits:  2 kits from H. White (Ashland County),  T. Myshrall (Geauga County),  J. Stachler (Auglaize County), and started sorting the kit by L. Weber (Ashland County). We are over 20,490 bees pinned and databased. We have sorted at least 47 of the kits, but still plenty of kits left to sort. I was working on project logistics for the specialist bee project, so no new progress on identification.

Thanks to the backlog of bees that we finally entered into the database and the additional help of 3 more volunteers this week, we had a noticeable uptick in the number of bees pinned!


Helping in the lab in the age of Covid:

We had three volunteers in our lab this week! We greatly appreciate their help processing specimens.

P. Dutton having fun pinning specimens

E. Robinson also doing a great job gluing bees!

C. Gleditcsh also helped pin last week, but I forgot to take a photo. Oops.

We also got to share a lovely aggregation of polyester bees! There is a large patch of lawn next to the lab that has several hundred bees. The females were watching us from their nests.

Wondering how you can help speed up our process? If you would like to come to the lab in Newark, there are several tasks that people can participate in. We will mostly have people start with pinning bees, but people can also be trained to sort bees from bycatch in samples, label specimens, or other lab tasks.

You do not have to be a collector to help out in the lab. You also do not have to help for the entire timeslot for a particular day, so if you are only interested in helping out for an hour or three, that still works. No one is obligated to spend the whole day pinning bees.

The lab is open to people interested in helping pin or sort specimens on a limited basis. The following caveats must be reached: 1)  you have managed to get a covid vaccine, or 2) you have already gotten covid and recovered. If you fit one of these exceptions and want to come to the lab to help out, please sign up here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090F4BAEAC2EA6F58-beepinning

Note we are still required to have masks on while on OSU property. We are still limiting our rooms to a maximum of 3 people, but we have additional classrooms down the hall to expand our capacity if more people want to volunteer at once.

Want to see how to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in Ohio? See the vaccine distribution website here: https://vaccine.coronavirus.ohio.gov/

Note that all adults now eligible for the covid vaccine in Ohio! 


Bycatch of the week:

H. White had the most yellow jackets of any kit so far. This was a single week from a fall sample. I think that is more than enough yellow jackets.

Is this a mite balloon? No, this is a mite using a beetle to hitch a ride that took an unfortunate detour into Weber’s traps instead. The mite exudes  some sticky glue from it’s anus that allows it to stay on the beetle until it arrives at its preferred location. This mite is now destined for a mite researcher at the Museum of Biological Diversity. Learn more about these weird mites here: https://whyevolutionistrue.com/2013/07/22/show-me-the-way-to-the-next-merocenose-the-anal-pedicel-of-a-phoretic-uropodine/


Mystery larvae:

Without checking iNaturalist, do you have any guesses what this mystery larvae would be? Grain of rice for scale. Both the adults and larvae are considered beneficial insects.


Specialist bee guide:

Finally, if you are looking for more resources, we released our Guide to Specialist Bees of Ohio today! It is a plant focused guide that helps you find the plants that are known to have specialist bees. Check it out here: https://u.osu.edu/beesurvey/files/2021/04/GuidetoSpecialistBeesofOhio_2021.pdf

Feel free to download and have a copy printed at your local print shop. As with the Bees of Ohio Field Guide from last year, it is up to you if you want a physical copy of the guide, which you are able to have printed and bound at most stores (example stores would be Staples, Uniprint, Minutemen Press, Office Depot, etc).

Example pages from the specialist bee guide.

 

The weather is getting nice again, which means the bees are out and the flowers are popping. I still see many lab days ahead for me as we try to get through our pandemic backlog. I will be out in the field probably once a week sampling for specialist bees, but I expect most of my time will still be devoted to sorting and identifying specimens from last year. 

All for now,

MaLisa

April 4th – Bowl trap updates

Last week we finished sorting 3 kits:  S. Lewis (Scioto County), T. O’Neil (Lake Co), and C. Gunn (Clermont Co). We are over 18,200 bees pinned and databased. We actually now have a backlog of 9 boxes to be entered into the database, so we technically pinned more than that last week. Our student workers were out half the week due to the partial spring break last week.

We have sorted at least 43 of the kits, but still plenty of kits left to sort. I was working on project logistics for the specialist bee project, so no new progress on identification.

Despite our data entry backlog, we still entered a decent amount of pinned bees.


Helping in the lab in the age of Covid:

We had our first volunteer back in the lab since November! I’m excited that more people are getting vaccinated and we can have people back in the lab.

B. Heath helping to pin specimens

Wondering how you can help speed up our process? If you would like to come to the lab in Newark, there are several tasks that people can participate in. We will mostly have people start with pinning bees, but people can also be trained to sort bees from bycatch in samples, label specimens, or other lab tasks.

You do not have to be a collector to help out in the lab. You also do not have to help for the entire timeslot for a particular day, so if you are only interested in helping out for an hour or three, that still works. No one is obligated to spend the whole day pinning bees.

The lab is open to people interested in helping pin or sort specimens on a limited basis. The following caveats must be reached: 1)  you have managed to get a covid vaccine, or 2) you have already gotten covid and recovered. If you fit one of these exceptions and want to come to the lab to help out, please sign up here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090F4BAEAC2EA6F58-beepinning

Note we are still required to have masks on while on OSU property. We are still limiting our rooms to a maximum of 3 people, but we have additional classrooms down the hall to expand our capacity if more people want to volunteer at once.

Want to see how to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in Ohio? See the vaccine distribution website here: https://vaccine.coronavirus.ohio.gov/

Note that all adults now eligible for the covid vaccine in Ohio! I got my first shot last week (and only side effect was soreness at injection site). All of our lab workers have also started their first doses of the vaccine as well. 


Bycatch of the week: – I did not manage to photograph any bycatch this week, so no new photos. It is finally getting warm again, so bees and other bugs are emerging! Take a minute this week to find a cool bug to learn more about.

Upcoming events:
Tues, April 6th 1-3 PM – Newark Student Research Forum – One of our undergraduate students will be talking about the hoverflies that were caught in the bowl traps. Her talk will be at 2:15. Register here (and put NA for the instructor) if you would like to watch via Zoom: https://newark.osu.edu/research/research-forums/student-research-forum.html
Once a recording is available, I will try to post that on this blog.

– All for now,

MaLisa

28 March – Specialist bee signup and bowl trap updates

Last week we finished sorting 2 kits: second kit by K. Capuzzi (Hocking Co), and C. Gleditsch (Madison Co). We also started sorting the kit by S. Lewis (Scioto County). We are over 17,815 bees pinned and databased. We have sorted at least 39 of the kits, but still plenty of kits left to sort. I was working on project logistics last week, so no new progress on identification.

 

At this point, I am kind of impressed at how consistent we are with newly pinned specimens each week.


Helping in the lab in the age of Covid:

Wondering how you can help speed up our process? If you would like to come to the lab in Newark, there are several tasks that people can participate in. We will mostly have people start with pinning bees, but people can also be trained to sort bees from bycatch in samples, label specimens, or other lab tasks.

You do not have to be a collector to help out in the lab. You also do not have to help for the entire timeslot for a particular day, so if you are only interested in helping out for an hour or three, that still works. No one is obligated to spend the whole day pinning bees.

The lab is open to people interested in helping pin or sort specimens on a limited basis. The following caveats must be reached: 1)  you have managed to get a covid vaccine, or 2) you have already gotten covid and recovered. If you fit one of these exceptions and want to come to the lab to help out, please sign up here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090F4BAEAC2EA6F58-beepinning

Note we are still required to have masks on while on OSU property. We are still limiting our rooms to a maximum of 3 people, but we have additional classrooms down the hall to expand our capacity if more people want to volunteer at once.

Want to see how to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in Ohio? See the vaccine distribution website here: https://vaccine.coronavirus.ohio.gov/

Note that all adults now eligible for the covid vaccine in Ohio! I get my first shot this week, as do most of our regular lab workers. OSU Newark is also a vaccination site, though the vaccines are being given on a different building on campus.


Specialist bee project:

You can still sign up to help with the smaller specialist bee project for this summer! Instead of setting even more bowl traps, our goal for this summer is to target plants known to host specialists bees. So if you would like to participate in a more hands on project of hand collecting bees, see our project here: https://u.osu.edu/beesurvey/native-bee-survey-via-specimen-collections/120-2/

This also will coincide with our specialist bee guide that we are hard at work on finalizing. The guide will be organized by plant host so that you can hopefully learn to recognize the plant to then be able to monitor for potential specialist bees.


Bycatch of the Week:

Dun dun DUNNN! If this image immediately elicited fear, then you probably thought this was an Emerald Ash Borer (the culprit of the destruction of most ash trees across Ohio). However, this is a closely related species that is not nearly as destructive. It was found in the Hocking County site by Capuzzi.  See more information about this species here: https://bugguide.net/node/view/25117

Capuzzi also had several of the tiny snails that bring me joy. Grain of rice for scale. Imagine trying to find this snail on purpose. It would be very easy to overlook these snails as just grains of sand.

Gleditsch had two weird Ant-like Flower beetles. They supposedly feed on decaying vegetation.

And surprise, another ant! This is one of the Big-headed ants that I was told to watch out for. The head (right) is bigger than the butt (left). This was from the kit by S. Lewis, so it will be interesting to see if we find more of these ants as we sort through the rest of the kit.

Capuzzi’s kit had quite the surprise as well. Does anyone see what is amiss here? Aside from the abundance of flies and sawflies.

There is a cicada nymph! And it is one of the 17 year cicadas, which were not supposed to emerge last year, but instead were supposed to emerge this year.  The bright red eyes separate it from the annual cicadas.

For those who are not ready, the periodical cicadas are supposed to emerge across most of Ohio this year (2021). Be on the look out for these red eyed beasts with orange wings starting in May.

And I do not think I have said this enough, but thank you to everyone who has participated and followed along. This is an enormous project that we would not have been able to do without each of you. This is an unprecedented scale for Ohio, so I am excited to see how all these bees turn out (and the bycatch, which I am trying to get into the right hands). Since we got such good coverage across the state (over 80% of counties surveyed and kits returned), we should be able to try to answer some interesting questions.

All for now,

MaLisa

March 22 – Spring is here and more chances to help out in lab

Weekly progress:

Last week we finished sorting both kits by D. Winstel (Delaware County) and also finished sorting the kit be L. Raulinaitis et al. (Licking Co). We are over 16940 bees pinned and databased. We have sorted at least 36 of the kits, but still plenty of kits left to sort.

I am interested to see if we can get the progress trajectory to change. We are nothing if not consistent, so hopefully once we get more people to come in to help us, we can markedly increase the number of bees pinned each week.


Spring is finally here!

Spring flowers are finally starting to pop, so people are reporting both blooms and bees on iNaturalist. What will be your first bee of the year?

I had a single flower blooming in my yard early last week, and lo and behold, a queen bumblebee found it and slept inside it for two days! I now have a host of crocuses blooming and the daffodils will pop in a few days.

The Maple trees are also in full bloom in central Ohio. I have not noticed any bees on my yard tree, though it is still early.

It is also prime time to go look for Fairy Shrimp in a vernal pool near you. (and also salamanders, but I am biased towards invertebrates)

An adult fairy shrimp from a vernal pool with fingers for scale. These are weird, slow moving creatures that swim upside down and disappear after the waters are consistently above 60 degrees F. I have found them at about half a dozen vernal pools now. This one was found in a wetland on the west side of OSU’s campus in Columbus.


Helping in the lab in the age of Covid:

Wondering how you can help speed up our process? If you would like to come to the lab in Newark, there are several tasks that people can participate in. We will mostly have people start with pinning bees, but people can also be trained to sort bees from bycatch in samples, label specimens, or other lab tasks.

You do not have to be a collector to help out in the lab. You also do not have to help for the entire timeslot for a particular day, so if you are only interested in helping out for an hour or three, that still works. No one is obligated to spend the whole day pinning bees.

The lab is open to people interested in helping pin or sort specimens on a limited basis. For now, the following caveats must be reached: 1)  you have managed to get a covid vaccine, or 2) you have already gotten covid and recovered. If you fit one of these exceptions and want to come to the lab to help out, please sign up here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090F4BAEAC2EA6F58-beepinning

Note we are still required to have masks on while on OSU property. We are still limiting our rooms to a maximum of 3 people, but we have additional classrooms down the hall to expand our capacity if more people want to volunteer at once.

Want to see how to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in Ohio or see if you qualify yet? See the vaccine distribution website here: https://vaccine.coronavirus.ohio.gov/

Note that people who are 40 and above are now eligible for the vaccine in Ohio! The qualifications have also expanded to many people with medical conditions including heart disease and obesity, among many others. Otherwise, vaccinations open up to all adults in Ohio after March 29th, so there is finally light at the end of the tunnel.


Specialist bee project:

You can still sign up to help with the smaller specialist bee project for this summer! Instead of setting even more bowl traps, our goal for this summer is to target plants known to host specialists bees. So if you would like to participate in a more hands on project of hand collecting bees, see our project here: https://u.osu.edu/beesurvey/native-bee-survey-via-specimen-collections/120-2/

This also will coincide with our specialist bee guide that we are hard at work on finalizing. The guide will be organized by plant host so that you can hopefully learn to recognize the plant to then be able to monitor for potential specialist bees.


Bycatch of the Week:
We still had plenty of things in the 3 kits sorted this week too.

There is only one ant in this photo, but can you guess which? The top individual is an ant, but the bottom insect is actually an immature broad headed bug! The true bugs have distinct piercing sucking mouthparts, which is very different from the chewing mouthparts of ants. Many people confuse the broad headed bugs with ants and they do make quite convincing mimics. These specimens were from Winstel’s kit in Delaware.

More poorly understood insects! The kit by Winstel also had the rare Forcepflies that we covered back in August. We still do not know what these insects eat or what their larvae look like. But this makes at least three specimens that have been caught in bee bowls so far. They could be initially mistaken for cockroaches given their drab appearance (and I did get excited for a brown cockroach the week prior, as I initially thought it was also a forcepfly, but alas, it was only a cockroach)

We also got another one of the weird ants in the genus Dolichoderus. So it seems we now have found several sites with this weird ant genus. This specimen was collected by D. Berube from the Licking county kit.

Perhaps the shape that haunts many of us, this is not Covid, but instead some very similar looking large pollen grains that were collected by a long-horned bee. Pollen comes in many shapes, sizes, and colors, so hypothetically someone can identify these pollen grains to figure out what plant it came from. It looks most similar to Hibiscus pollen to me.

That is all for now,

MaLisa

March 15 – Updates and Specialist Bee Project Announcement

Weekly progress:

Last week we started sorting a kit by D. Winstel in Delaware County. We are over 15,500 bees pinned and databased. We did not identify any additional bees last week as I was working on some paperwork and the specialist guide most of the week. That also means I do not have any bycatch information to share at this time.

We are at least consistent with our rate of specimen pinning. It will be interesting to see if we can get the numbers to go up dramatically once volunteers start coming back into the lab. We only started tracking the number of bees pinned per week around the beginning of December, which is after we stopped having volunteers.


Specialist bee project:

I have also been working on clarifying methods for the upcoming field season. Instead of setting even more bowl traps, our goal for this summer is to target plants known to host specialists bees. So if you would like to participate in a more hands on project of hand collecting bees, see our project here: https://u.osu.edu/beesurvey/native-bee-survey-via-specimen-collections/120-2/

This also will coincide with our specialist bee guide that we are hard at work on finalizing. The guide will be organized by plant host so that you can hopefully learn to recognize the plant to then be able to monitor for potential specialist bees.

One such specialist bee is the Hibiscus Turret bee (Ptilothrix bombiformis). This is a species that is relatively easy to ID from a photo, but most specialists are not so easy to identify in comparison.


Helping in the lab in the age of Covid:

The lab is open to people interested in helping pin or sort specimens on a very limited basis. For now, the following caveats must be reached: 1) if you have managed to get a covid vaccine, or 2) you have already gotten covid and recovered. If you fit one of these exceptions and want to come to the lab to help out, please sign up here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090F4BAEAC2EA6F58-beepinning

Note we are still required to have masks on while on OSU property. We are still limiting our rooms to a maximum of 3 people, but we have additional classrooms down the hall to expand our capacity if more people want to volunteer at once.

Want to see how to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in Ohio or see if you qualify yet? See the vaccine distribution website here: https://vaccine.coronavirus.ohio.gov/

Note that people who are 50 and above are now eligible for the vaccine in Ohio! For those of us under 50 and do not have a qualifying medical condition, we still have a few more weeks to wait.

All for now,

MaLisa

Bee Survey Update: hover flies and progress of the week

Weekly progress:

Last week we sorted two kits: K. Orosz (Carroll County) and H. Scott (Brown County) and finished the rest of the kit by C. Carrol (Hancock County). We are over 14,400 bees pinned and databased. We did not identify any additional bees last week as I spent more time sorting kits and also helping with the hoverfly bycatch.

We have been pretty consistent with the number of bees pinned by week. I did not keep track of our pinning progress that well towards the beginning, so this graph is from mid-December till now. We have slowly but steadily been increasing our number of specimens pinned each week. If we get more volunteers in the lab, I hope to get this number to go up a lot.


Bycatch of the week:

I bet you were not expecting yet another fly! There have been an abundance of flies in the samples, but this is the first Flat-footed fly that I have noticed. It was in a sample by H. Scott.

The hindleg is quite expanded.
Most Flat-footed flies (Platypezidae) are associated with fungi.

The leafhopper people were particularly excited for this otherwise drab specimen collected by K. Orosz. This specimen is somewhat unique with its rounded head and very rarely encountered. There are only 2 other photos of this species on iNaturalist despite this being a somewhat large leafhopper.

K. Orosz also had a fly that was practically ready to burst with eggs! Check out all the eggs that you can see through the “skin” of the fly.


Hover fly project:
Our undergraduate assistant Eleanor has taken up a side project with the bycatch hover flies. In the next few weeks we will have a writeup of what she has found so far. I spent an hour or so last week photographing a few of the weirder specimens. So below are a few previews to keep you excited about even more bycatch.

Our most common hoverflies by a wide margin are the ones in the genus Toxomerus. This one was collected by N. Helm.

However, there have been some fun weird hover flies like this ant parasite from the kit by Diltz.

The hoverflies that have been causing us headaches are the small black hoverflies in the Tribe Pipizini. Small patches of hair behind the head and under the wings are the characters to separate the genera. The hairs can be a bit annoying to try to see as they are so small and our specimens so bedraggled from their water collection. The flies are really fragile, so we cannot wash them to clean them up either. This specimen was collected by Capuzzi.


Photographable bee species list for Ohio:

Example of part of the list. Click link here to get full pdf: Ohio Bee Species Checklist -1

L. Lebovitz has created a “life list” for species that have been documented in Ohio via iNaturalist. So if you are looking for bees to chase that you might be able to photograph instead of collecting, this list is a good place to start. Note that there is also a column for whether the specimens need collected to verify an ID (M in the micro ID) or if they can be temporarily held (hand in micro ID) to get the right images or views of structures. She also added the Growing Degree Day (GDD) calculation to help you get an idea of when things should emerge near you. See file here: Ohio Bee Species Checklist -1


More bee resources:

Although it is for Oregon, there are several good bee resources that are applicable to Ohio on the Oregon Bee Atlas page.  See: https://www.oregonbeeproject.org/training-videos-and-manuals

Specifically, you might find the Cheat Sheet to Bee Genera somewhat helpful for our common bee genera (here in Ohio or Oregon).


Helping in the lab in the age of Covid:

The lab is open to people interested in helping pin or sort specimens on a very limited basis. For now, the following caveats must be reached. 1) if you have managed to get both doses of a covid vaccine, or 2) you have already gotten covid, recovered, and can show both + then – covid tests. If you fit one of these exceptions and want to come to the lab to help out, please send an email to MaLisa at spring.99@osu.edu

Want to see how to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in Ohio or see if you qualify yet? See the vaccine distribution website here: https://vaccine.coronavirus.ohio.gov/
Update: Dewine just announced that Ohioans 50 and older will be able to get the vaccine starting THIS Thursday. So many of you are likely now eligible or close to being eligible.


Upcoming events:

March 13th, 2-3 pm. Jason Dombroskie – Moths: What we don’t know and what you can do about it. – a talk on documenting moths and butterflies in your own backyard. Watch/register here: https://www.facebook.com/events/732467954304459/

That is all for now,

MaLisa