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:
- 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:
- 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
- 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!
- 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. 😉
- Robberflies are in the fly family Asilidae. There are an estimated 1,040 species of robberflies known to occur in North America, so there are plenty of weird ones to find in Ohio. They are all predatory and eat other insects, often tiny gnats or other bugs you might not notice. Though some robberflies will also take down larger prey like damselflies or moths if given the chance. The larvae live in the soil or decaying wood and the pupa look similar to moth pupa, but with a lot more spikes. For more information about robberflies, see: https://bugguide.net/node/view/151
- 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.
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.