November Updates!

Thanks to everyone who signed up to help pin specimens! I know the slots filled up quickly and a lot of people did not get a space. Have no worries! We will be adding more slots in a few weeks, so you still get a chance to help out and learn to pin. I’m still trying to figure out a way to show pinning over video, but the microscope camera can only view as wide as the head of a carpenter bee, so that is out (unless you just want to watch my magnified fingers try to pin something under a microscope, but I am pretty sure you don’t)


Eleanor and Elizabeth were hard at work helping to pin and glue specimens last week.

We made much better progress this week, almost fully pinning 2 kits worth of bees. Thankfully, none of the samples has 400+ bees per week, so that definitely helped. We finished pinning Cameron’s specimens and moved on to specimens from Beth S. in Putnam County.

An example of a week of sorted specimens from the kit by Cameron S. Such a reasonable number of bees (in the petri dish) and several different species!

Oddly, Beth S. had very few small bees and many medium (Halictus + Calliopsis) and large bees (Melissodes sp). So that made pinning a bit easier.

Cameron helped on Wednesday to process and pin specimens. Here he is showing off some of the progress.

We also had Roxanne L. and Kiersten M. on Thursday help with pinning specimens (no photos, so just imagine some cheery people staring at lots of bees).

So, did we see anything cool this week? Well, lots of Calliopsis in the kits so far, which has been interesting given how rarely people observe them out flying. I wonder if they fly at a different time of day when most photographers are active. If you judge just based on the 3 kits, you would think they were the most common bee at every site, yet they have not been photographed alive at either Cedar Bog or Blacklick Metro Park. I wonder why?

As for weird bycatch, we had more pincer wasp larvae, big headed flies, soldier fly with mouthparts extended, and a pictured wing fly with some neat eye patterns.

Cameron also had an abundance of Shore flies on his first sample date. They look like generic black flies, until you look at their front legs. These legs are greatly expanded (you can bet they never forget leg day) and have spines, which allows them to catch prey, similar to preying mantis front legs!

We also had what appears to be only the second record of a species of tortoise beetle on iNaturalist for Ohio, so that was cool!

There are many species of tortoise beetles in Ohio, but I didn’t recognize this one. So I photographed it and submitted it to iNaturalist where a tortoise beetle enthusiast (rob-westerduijn) identified it as Agroiconota bivittata

Finally, a weird wasp that was just way too long showed up in a trap, so I decided to photograph that as well.


I initially thought this was one of the stem sawflies, but a rather small one. I was quickly corrected that this was one of the parasitic wasps, with iNaturalist user jeongyoo identifying it as the genus Macroteleia.

If you missed the Insect University webinars, they are now available to watch on this webpage:

Lastly, don’t forget to vote on Tuesday if you haven’t already! I already voted and got my flu shot, so I’m ready to go for the rest of 2020 (fingers crossed).

Best wishes,


9 thoughts on “November Updates!

  1. Thank you for continuing to share- it is very exciting to see the “ fruits of our labor” also, a high five on the flu shot and voting! We are all connected and must continue to be good neighbors!

    • Thanks! Hopefully we can share a few fun things each week, though there might be weeks that I skip soon. We shall see.

  2. Very cool! Love the updates and seeing what we collected over the summer. The field I collected from had remnants of a mixed cover crop planting…so perhaps that is why there were many larger bees? Not sure!

    • Hmm, lots of good floral resources might do it. I’m not sure. I guess we will have to see based on what everyone else gets too and see if we can do any comparisons.

  3. A possible way of recording video of pinning, if you have a camera that has HDMI out, as almost all new ones do, you can use a $20 USB video capture card. That will basically turn it into a web cam, and you can select that camera input from a drop-down when recording on Zoom.

    • Hmm, I will have to look into that! I have a few old compact cameras lying around, but not sure if they would have the connection. The lenses for my SLR are also probably too close focus, but we shall see. TBD.

  4. Great updates, MaLisa! I’m curious if you’re finding many Holcopacites in the kits with lots of Calliopsis. That is interesting how many Calliopsis are in those kits. I saw a few in my bowls but I’ve never seen a live one even though I was watching for them this summer. Thanks again!

    • We are finding a few Holcopasites, yes! I have actually seen more Holcopasites alive and flying than I have of Calliopsis for some reason. I tried looking up the natural history for Calliopsis to try to explain why we see so few of them but still get them in bowls, but I haven’t found a satisfying answer. Some papers imply they just fly really close to the ground, so maybe we just don’t see them because of that? Not sure.

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