July 19th – Collection reminder, and facts of the week!

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. I’ve had several weeks of weather causing me to need to delay, so I’ve been able to sample only about every other week.

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: 

This male Longhorn bee was collected and had to be carefully styled to get its hair back to its normal fluffiness. Getting a photo of these alive can be tricky as they are notorious for quickly flying from flower to flower.

  • Longhorned bees (Melissodes spp, Family Apidae) are abundant ground nesting bees. They are most common mid-summer, so there should be plenty flying now. Some are considered floral specialists, though many species of longhorn bees can be found foraging on sunflowers and other Asteraceae. Example specialists include  Melissodes apicata, which forages on Pickeralweed (Pontederia spp); M. desponsus, which forages on thistles (Cirsium spp), or M. fimbriatus which forages on prime roses (Oenothera spp).

ID tip of the week:

This female Two-spotted Longhorn bee (Melissodes bimaculatus) was perched on some construction netting. She was nesting in my lawn, so it was fun to watch her fly straight into the dense grass and disappear.

  • Longhorned bees (Melissodes spp, Family Apidae) might be confused as fluffier honey bees or oddly colored bumblebees. The male Longhorned bee gets the namesake from their extra long antennae that reach back past the end of the thorax (see first image). The females also have extra long hairs on their hindlegs, so it often looks like they are wearing legwarmers. We expect around 20 species of longhorned bees in Ohio, though they can be tricky to identify to species. Some have grey hairs, some are more yellow, and one species (Melissodes bimaculatus) is mostly black. In addition to being mostly black, Melissodes bimaculatus can be differentiated from other bees by its two yellow spots at the end of its abdomen, which is also how it gets its namesake as the Two-spotted Longhorn bee. To learn how to identify the other species that might be in Ohio, see: https://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?guide=Melissodes_female


What’s that bycatch?
  • 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!

There are a couple of interesting things in this bowl from a few weeks ago including the ever present springtails, small flies, a bee, and japanese beetle. However, I want to highlight the black fly on the left side.

  • More flies? Again, you ask? Well, there are a LOT of types of flies, so I could honestly make every weeks bycatch about them, but I won’t do that to you. This week, I want to cover robberflies! This is in part because there is a survey to document robberflies in Ohio, but also because robberflies are really cool! If you notice a theme, a lot of insects turn out to be really cool once you start looking. 😉

Now of course, the robberflies we are most likely to get in our bowls are some of the types that few people would recognize as robberflies. This is the same fly as the earlier image, but zoomed in. There are many types of small black robberflies.

This is one of the small black robberflies and the same species as the one photographed above (Atomosia puella). They are small and very easily overlooked. They are the robberfly that I have found most often this year.

This is a typical robberfly and what most people imagine when they think of robberflies. This is one of the Giant Robberflies in the genus Promachus.

  • Some robberflies are also good mimics of bumblebees, so watch out for these tricksters and their piercing mouthparts as they sit on leaves! They are not a danger to you, but they often take out bees and other small prey.

This is one of the bee mimic robberflies in the genus Laphria. Many people fall for their impressive mimicking skills.


I know I have already shared examples of robberflies, but I wanted to include two more just to highlight their diversity. This one is a tiny Gnat Ogre (Holcocephala calva), which are good at hunting tiny gnats, but will also take down small rove beetles as photographed here.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the weird Leptogastrinae robberflies that look like mosquitoes from a distance. These are also really small and easily overlooked, but maybe we will get a few in our bowls?

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.

How many bees do you see?





Okay, did you make your guesses?


I finally joined those of you in the fly club who are catching a lot of flies in your bowls. Most of the insects in my bowls last week were flies instead of bees, though many of the bees were hidden underneath the mass of flies. I can only see one bee (a green sweat bee) in this image.


And that is all I have for you this week. May the weather cooperate for your sampling and may you stay safe.

Best wishes,


4 thoughts on “July 19th – Collection reminder, and facts of the week!

  1. I never realized that there were so many species within each type of bee. I’m looking forward to identifying what’s been in my bowls!

  2. This isn’t directly related to the bee survey… but a friend of mine found a leaf cutter bee’s leaf cocoon in her window frame. She saw the cocoon structure and touched it. She said a tiny bee flew out. Then she found the circular cut outs in redbud leaves nearby in her yard. She looked it up and figured out what it was. How cool! I went over and looked at the tiny round cut out round holes in the redbud leaves. I’ve never seen that before.

    • Haha, cool! Yea, a lot of leafcutters seem to like redbud leaves for some reason. I’ve seen several plants with cuts in them.

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