Aug 23 – Collection reminder and facts of the week

Specimen storage:
I’ve had a few people reach out to say their boxes are getting pretty full in their freezer.  If you have the extra freezer space, you use another box or plastic takeout container to store the overflow. Alternatively, if you have so many specimens and happen to be traveling to the Newark or Akron area, you can organize to drop off part of your kit if you want. I will send out the details on those options as a direct email in a few weeks, otherwise please email MaLisa directly for now.

Cup status:
How is everyone doing with the number of cups left? If you get below 15 usable cups, let me know and we can work on getting replacements.

It sounds like most people are mostly having pretty good luck with cups not being destroyed. I’ve somehow managed to only have one cup damaged beyond repair, which is in contrast to my undergraduate sampling where it seemed that I lost a quarter of my bowls every two sample periods. For those who have had transects destroyed by mowers/someone throwing them into the pond/curious chewing mammals, know that some level of destruction was expected.

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 want to wait to sample once every two weeks now, that is fine as well! You do not have to stick to the weekly sampling regimen.

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: 

  • Mining bees (Genus Andrena, family Andrenidae) are one of our most species rich genera. Most of our mining bees emerge in the spring, but there are several that do not emerge until the fall (aka now!). So we have a few cool Andrena that we expect to start showing up. With almost 100 species expected to occur in Ohio, there are plenty to find, even in the fall. Another key thing about the mining bees is that many of them are floral specialists, meaning they only forage on a select set of plants. Thus, you often need to have the right plant around (and blooming) if you hope to find a certain type of specialist bee.

 ID tip of the week:

  • The easiest way to differentiate mining bees from other types of bees is that they are medium sized black/dark brown bees. They often have hair bands on their abdomen and visible facial fovea (vertical eyebrows) on their face. They are most often confused with the genera Halictus (no facial fovea, tend to be a little thicker and smaller), or Colletes (less common, thicker bands on the abdomen).

Species of late season mining bees to keep an eye on:

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!

This week I had quite the surprise in my bycatch. And no, it was not another weird fly (though I am sure there were weird true flies in my bowls). It was an earwigfly, which is not a true fly (note number of wings), but instead an insect in the order Mecoptera!

  • Forcepflies! Earwigflies! Ahh! What are these drab monsters? Why, they are not monsters at all, unless you count the fact that we know so little about them that they surely haunt at least a few entomologists in their dreams. Both male and female Forcepflies (also known as earwigflies) are a drab brown color with many veins in their wings. They are in the strange order Mecoptera, which includes other weird insects such as Scorpionflies and Hanginglflies (none of which are true flies).

This female Forcepfly somehow fell into my bowl, which is likely coincidental.

  • We only have one species of Earwigfly in the US, which is Merope tuber, though there are 3 species described worldwide. They get their name from the male reproductive structures, shown below. These insects are the enigma of the entomology world as we have yet to figure out what they eat or even what their larvae look like. However, we know that we tend to find them active at night and attracted to certain lights (and sometimes a lucky person will find them at their moth sheet). They are more often found near wet forests, so if you live in a heavily forested part of Ohio, keep an eye out!

This male was found dead next to my porch light when I lived in Wooster. A normal sized dime for scale

  • These might be confused with brown lacewings, which are much more common, but tend to hold their wings over their body in a tent like fashion instead of flattened parallel against the body. Brown lacewings are much more common and more likely to be found in your bee bowls. That being said, if anyone else has found an earwigfly in their bowl, I would like to know! These rare, enigmatic creatures are a mystery that very few people have seen alive. These are also thought to be ancient insects, flying all the way back into the Jurassic period! See more info here:

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.

Can you identify anything in this bowl? How many bees do you see?






Okay, did you make your guesses?

In this bowl there are….. no bees. Plenty of flies though!


Best wishes,


2 thoughts on “Aug 23 – Collection reminder and facts of the week

  1. Thanks for the suggestions for Andrena species. I have discovered so many different bee genera and species this summer that I am becoming overwhelmed with similarities amongst them. I am studying about 3 acres of bee habitat and am reassured that there is a good representation.
    And, of course, there is no collection on days that bee bowls are set out.
    Today the bowls came up with doonly a very few bees when the flowering plants above them by 5-7′ are dense with bees. I’m certain that my bee bowls are not going to give you a good representation of what lives here.

    • Hi Jeanne,

      Learning all the different groups of bees can be quite overwhelming. It can be tricky to identify them in the field and it took me years to start feeling confident with the various characters of the different genera.

      As for the bowls showing a good representation, generally they show at least a decent subset of the population present, though more biased towards the smaller bees. The goal of the project is to get a baseline understanding of the species present and then work out from there. So the bowls will be a start, and then we can potentially compliment the bowl traps with netting to get a better idea of what is around.

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