Jan 10 – Progress Updates and at home tasks

Progress of the week:

We sorted 2 kits last week: completely sorting and pinning a kit by J. Adams (Coshocton Co), and sorting the kit by J. Lansing (Franklin Co).

Bycatch of the week:
I didn’t photograph much this week, but we did see a few hairy ants and a twisted wing parasite.

Adam’s kit had some weird hairy ants, that were subsequently identified as “crazy ants” in the genus Nylanderia.

Adam’s kit also had a paper wasp that was parasitized by Twisted Wing Parasites! These are really weird insects that make up their own order (Strepsiptera). The females are essentially sacks of eggs that stick out of the host insect.

Male Twisted wing insects look vastly different. This is an image of a male that I photographed a few years ago. The eyes are like raspberries and the front wings are reduced to halteres (opposite of flies which have a pair of front wings followed by hindwings replaced with halteres)

The parasites often eat the internal organs of the host, leaving those most important to host survival. This paper wasp was found alive in January 2014, perhaps in part thanks to the strepsiptera. If you see a paper wasp out and about at this time of year, look closely at the end of the abdomen for little brown bits sticking out. You might find strepsiptera!

Covid Vaccine News:

Although technically not related to our sorting progress, but I was excited to hear a timeline for rolling out more vaccines across Ohio. Both a Pfizer and Moderna vaccine have gone through large clinical trials and been approved for use in the US after rigorous testing. The vaccines both require two doses and about two weeks for an immune response to build up to protect against COVID. So even if people get both doses, it is important to still follow the same risk reduction measurements (physically distance, wearing masks, etc) for a few weeks after getting the vaccine. To learn more about the available covid vaccines and potential side effects, see: https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/blog/covid-19-mrna-vaccine-side-effects

It sounds like most people over the age of 65 in Ohio will be eligible for the first dose of a covid vaccine by the second week of February. I don’t know the average age of our collectors, but at least some of you can look forward to some positive news. Dewine also announced that school personnel will be eligible to be vaccinated starting on Feb 1. As far as I am aware, the initial school personnel eligible are k-12 teachers and staff.

Specialist bees to chase:

The bee bowls are pretty good at documenting generalist bees in an area, though a few specialist bees do occasionally accidentally get caught as well. However, many specialist bees evade capture in bee bowls, both due to their specialization and also due to their rarity. So, to get you prepared for the upcoming return of bee activity, this is a small section to cover weird specialist bees to look for.

A mining bee in the genus Andrena foraging in a willow tree (Salix spp)

Willows (Genus Salix): These wonderful trees are often abundant near wetlands and have 14 different species of bees that specialize on them! That also means willows are a great plant to target to document a lot of specialist bees at once. Most of the willow specialists are mining bees in the genus Andrena, but there is also a Perdita specialist too! See: https://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?search=Perdita+maculigera&guide=1

Not many people in Ohio get to see bees in the genus Perdita, so if you are up for a challenge, then start marking out the closest willows near you! See the Ohio Field Guide to Trees to see an example of black willows and their flowers (pg 57). Or see the list of willows documented on iNaturalist here: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=31&subview=grid&taxon_id=53453

That’s all for now,


If you are bored and want to do some annotation work from home, see the info below. (Though iNaturalist appears to be partially down as I set to have this blog go live, so if the page does not load, come back later).

Are you bored and need something to do from home?  This task has been completed! Thanks to all that have helped!
As I am working on the specialist bee guide, I have realized I need accurate flowering dates for various plant species in Ohio. I generally use iNaturalist, but many of those observations are not “annotated”  as flowering, so I cannot easily determine when most of them are flowering in Ohio.

Example plant phenology graph prior to me going through the observations and adding annotations for whether the plant is flowering or fruiting. The gray graph are the observations that have yet to be tagged as Flowering, Budding, Fruiting, or No evidence of flowering.

This is what the same graph looks like after going through about a dozen pages and adding annotations. In this case, it more accurately shows that this genus is most often reported as flowering in May and June for Ohio (since I have graph filtered for only Ohio data).

Annotations to flowers in Ohio can be added here (you need to be logged in to see):  https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/identify?quality_grade=needs_id%2Cresearch&taxon_id=53453&place_id=31&without_term_id=12

Focus only on the flowers or flower budding. If you find a patch of a lot of non-flowering observations, just skip the page to avoid wasting time. We are most interested in flowering, but things like trees have lots of observations when they are not in flower. Be sure to check that you know what the flower of that genus looks like before you start adding annotations. Some plants have buds or seeds that look like flowers or vise versa.

Once you click on the link above, it should take you to an identify page. From there, you can click on the annotations tab, which allows you to select the matching annotation from the drop down menu. I use the arrow keys to navigate between observations and quickly sort through observations.

Here is an example annotated observation showing my violet observation after I have clicked on the image and then clicked on the annotation tab. From here, you can naviate with arrow keys or by clicking the arrows on the right side of the screen.

More info on adding annotations can be found here: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/using-identify-to-annotate-observations/1417

List of genera that need annotations: I’ll try to update as I get through the different genera. If you complete a set of genera, feel free to email me (spring.99@osu.edu) and I will take them off this list. 

List updated 31 Jan 2021.

This task has been completed! Thanks to all that have helped!

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