For those who weren’t able to make it or couldn’t login due to the password issue, the update webinar from last week can be viewed by clicking here.
It is not a critical update, but I try to cover a few things about where we are going and answer a few questions. And if you still have questions after watching the webinar, let me know via email. -MaLisa
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, weather permitting. Please wait at least 7 days from your last sample date.
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:
- Leafcutter bees (Genus Megachile, family Megachilidae) are common bees that we find across Ohio. There are about 30 species that we expect to find in Ohio, with several of them foraging on plants in the pea or aster family. Most of the leafcutter bees are cavity nesters (for more information on nesting see: Ohio Bee Nest Factsheet), meaning they will nest in the straw nests that many people now buy at the store. They are also known for lining their nests with leaves (hence the common name), so don’t be surprised to see one flying around carrying a piece of leaf. You can often see the distinct cuts in certain plant leaves. I most often see them taking nesting material from Redbud trees or other plants with similarly smooth leaves.
ID tip of the week:
- Leafcutter bees (Genus Megachile, family Megachilidae) are sexually dimorphic, with males looking rather different from the females. The females have long tapered abdomens that end in a point, whereas the males have a more rounded end of their abdomen. The males sometimes also sport thickened forelegs. Both male and female leafcutter bees are generally black with white bands of hair on their abdomen. Females carry pollen on specialized pollen collecting hairs on their abdomen instead of their legs, so it often looks like they have yellow stomachs. (Though be careful as other groups of bees who collect pollen on their legs sometimes collect so much pollen that it rubs off on their abdomen, making it seem like they are collecting pollen on both legs and abdomen, so you have to use a variety of characters to confirm).
- 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!
- ANTS! I would be surprised if someone has not captured a stray ant in their bowls yet. There has been work on the ants of Ohio, and even a published book through the Ohio Biological Survey! The 2005 bulletin lists that there are 118 species of ants known to occur in our state, though that number has increased in the last decade and a half. The iNaturalist project for Ohio Ants only lists 55 species so far, but that isn’t surprising given that many ants need to be examined under a microscope to confirm to species. However, there are about 15,000 species described in the world, so there are plenty more ants to find.
- Similar to bees, ants have a narrow waist, but are not as hairy in comparison. Most ants also have distinct segments between their thorax and abdomen called the petiole (though ant people call the abdomen the gaster). Ants also have distinct antennae that have a long first segment followed by a bend with several more segments. A majority of our species found in Ohio will be black to brownish red.
- Ants play a wide role in the ecosystem as predators, seed disperers, decomposers, and soil aerators. Some species might be considered pests (like the Immigrant Pavement ant above), but many are beneficial to the environment and cause minimal issues to houses.
- There is a large hobbyist ant community, with many people raising them in specialized housing units. A thriving ant community on Youtube has lots of dramatized ant content. For those in the know, there is an antwiki for some of the most recent ant information (Ex: https://www.antwiki.org/wiki/Stigmatomma_pallipes). Starter key to urban ants can be found here: https://theantlife.com/science-communication/identification-keys
Finally, I will leave you with another ant video from the Ant lab, which has lots of cool slo mo videos on ants (and now other insects as well)
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. This is just so you can start to recognize some of the bees and get an idea of how many bees you actually have.
Okay, did you make your guesses?