July 26th – 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. Note that weather predictions past 3 days tend to be pretty iffy, so check the weather forecast the night before you are to sample. 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: 

  • Parasitic bees in the genus Triepeolus (Family Apidae) are starting to show up now. Many are nest parasites of longhorned bees or similar groups. Instead of collecting pollen and nectar for their own nests, they fly around looking for nests of other species of bees. They lay their eggs in the nest while the other bee is out collecting resources. The parasitic bee larvae develop first, and eat the food provisions left by the other species. You can still occasionally see the adults at flowers getting nectar before going off to look for more nests to parasitize. These bees are most common in Ohio in the late summer and fall. We expect about 16 species of this genus to occur here.

This Triepeolus was spotted several years ago in October. Many people tend to observe them in late July in Ohio.

ID tip of the week:

  • Parasitic bees in the genus Triepeolus (Family Apidae) are some weird looking bees, as they lack the typical fuzz of most bees. They also lack the typical pollen collecting structures of other bees, which makes sense as they do not collect their own resources. They have distinct abdominal patterns that are formed by very dense hairs which can sometimes get rubbed off. They are most similar to parasitic bees in the genus Epeolus, which are much rarer in Ohio and parasitize Colletes instead of longhorned bees. The two genera are best differentiated through microscopic examination of structures to confirm.

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!

I’m cheating again this week with a “bycatch” that is almost bycatch, but not quite. This lovely Dancer (Argia sp) was observed by Carol Blake after she set out her bowl traps.

  • Dragonflies and damselflies (Order Odonata) are unlikely to get caught in our bowls, though it isn’t impossible. You are however, very likely to spot them flitting around the vegetation as you set your traps. Ohio has around 170 species of dragonflies and damselflies, many of which are easily identifiable from a photo. That makes documenting them much easier, with a few photographs sufficing to confirm many species across the state.

This Twin-spotted Spiketail was seen near my bowl transect. There are several brown and yellow dragonflies that look similar, so comparing the patterns of yellow on the thorax and abdomen is key.

  • There is an ongoing effort to document the dragonflies and damselflies across Ohio, so feel free to submit any photographs to iNaturalist.org. No need to know how to identify them, as long as you tag them as either “dragonfly” or “damselfly.” There are many Odonata enthusiasts who help with identifications. For more on the Ohio project on iNaturalist, see: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/ohio-dragonfly-survey-ohio-odonata-survey

All dragonflies and damselflies are predatory and can often be found munching on other insects. this Eastern Red Damsel took out a Phantom Crane Fly as I was trying to document it.

  • All dragonflies and damselflies are predatory both as adults and immatures. Some dragonflies will even catch and eat other dragonflies! The iNaturalist project Odonata – Predation shows a few examples of various prey items for dragonflies and damselflies around the world. However, dragonflies and damselflies often end up as snacks for many other organisms including birds, spiders, fish, and flies. There is a similar iNaturalist project called Odonata – as prey that shows the wide variety of things that will go munch on dragonflies.

This Dot-tailed Whiteface was not so lucky, though the fishing spider seems happy with its catch.

  • Speaking of the immatures, not many people realize that immature dragonflies and damselflies live in the water! Thus, they are tied to specific aquatic habitats, with some species only found at rivers and streams, whereas other species are only found at stillwater habitats like ponds and lakes. The larvae are much trickier to identify than the adults, and often need long technical keys to differentiate. Many of the larvae are not identifiable unless they are at the last stage right before they would emerge as adults.

This damselfly larvae appeared in a mucky water sample that I was culturing in a jarrarium. It helped with the demise of my limited number of Water fleas.

Check out the resources page of the dragonfly website to see cool resources like this Silhouette ID guide!

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? Can you identify anything else in the image? The image from this week is provided by Rebecca Thomas.





Okay, did you make your guesses?

There are at least two bees (circled) in this bowl! The bigger one is a Two-spotted Longhorn bee, which was covered in our Bee ID tip last week. There are also two small robberflies, which are shown in the squares. The robberflies were also covered as our bycatch last week, so I wanted to put your knowledge to the test. How did you do? (Though it is okay if you didn’t get any right. Identifying things in soapy water is much harder than when they are alive and in a clear 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 26th – Collection reminder and facts of the week!

    • I’m glad you like it! I know a lot of people were worried that they weren’t catching any bees, so I thought it made sense to give an example each week. A lot of bees really don’t look like bees when they are in the water like this.

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