Collection kit sampling reminder: For those of you with collection kits, this is your reminder to try to put out your traps sometime this week. Be sure to wait at least 7 days from your last sampling. So if you set your traps on Saturday, you need to wait until next Saturday before considering whether to trap again.
Check the weather for your part of Ohio for the day you hope to sample. Note that weather predictions past 3 days tend to be pretty iffy, so check the weather forecast regularly. If the forecast looks like it is more than a 25% chance of rain, do not sample on that day.
If you can no longer put out your collection kit, please let me know so we can work on getting the kit into the hands of another volunteer instead.
Bee facts of the week:
- Oil Collecting bees (family Melittidae) are a rare family of bees that very few people are lucky enough to see. The species we have in Ohio (Macropis nuda) is a floral specialist, foraging on our native yellow loosestrifes. These plants are all associated with wetlands and only bloom for a short period. I haven’t photographed many of the well, so instead of adding an out of focus image for you to squint at, click on the follow links for examples of native host plants: Fringed Loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata), Whorled Loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia), Swamp Candles (Lysimachia terrestris), Tufted Loosestrife (Lysimachia thyrsiflora), etc. Given the short bloom period of the host plant, and the host specificity, it makes sense that are we have very few records of oil collecting bees in Ohio. It has been reported foraging on other flowers as well, but it most often associated with Loosestrife. You more or less need to know to look for it to hope to find it. There is also a parasitic bee in the Genus Epeoloides that is a nest parasite of Macropis. So if you are up for a challenge, try locating a population of oil collecting bees and then try to see if the nest parasite is also around! See images and info on Macropis here: https://bugguide.net/node/view/953823
ID tip of the week:
- Oil Collecting bees are in the family Melittidae, but the only representative we know of in Ohio is the Oil bee (Macropis nuda). They look similar to many of the brown Andrena, though by the time Macropis is flying (now) very few Andrena are still out. Getting into the weeds to officially differentiate them, Macropis only has 2 submarginal cells, whereas a majority of our mining bees (and other bees) have 3. See more ID characters on the discoverlife page here: https://www.discoverlife.org/20/q?search=Macropis+nuda
- Sometimes other small insects or arthropods also land in our traps. Although they are not our intended focus of this project, I will try to give a little bit of info about different groups we might see in our traps. So hopefully you learn a little entomology along with all of our awesome bee knowledge. If you want a specific group covered that you are seeing a lot of in your traps, let me know!
- This week, I want to highlight leafhoppers! These are a bit bigger than the thrips and springtails that we covered in the last few weeks, but they are just as cool. As with many insects, leafhoppers can be really tricky to ID to species. Leafhoppers are in the Family Cicadellidae and have at least 3,000 species described from North America. They can be found just about anywhere, though like bees, some are host specific. Leafhoppers have piercing mouthparts that they use to poke plants and feed on juices. Some are considered crops pests (See Potato Leafhopper and many others), and others can help vector plant pathogens like how mosquitoes vector diseases in vertebrates. They also serve as great snacks for damselflies and other insectivorous organisms. You can learn more about leafhoppers here: https://bugguide.net/node/view/146
Is that a bee?
- In this brief section, I will show a photo of a bee bowl and let you guess how many of the insects are actually bees. Don’t worry about properly identifying bees in your bowls for now. This is just so you can start to recognize some of the bees during the season and get an idea of how many bees you actually have.
Okay, did you make your guesses?
And that is all I have for you this week. May the weather cooperate for your sampling and may you stay safe.