June 27 – Updates of the week

We got back up to speed this past week, sorting 8 kits: B. Dewey (Harrison), C. Granger (Mahoning), K. Love (Athens), B. Bolyard (Carroll), J. L. Cordell (Noble), D. Bowen (Franklin), R. Thomas (Pike), and B. Marx (Miami). That brings us up to 104 kits sorted!

We are working on getting any straggler kits that have not been turned in from last year since we are finally getting down to the last few kits. We also pinned many bees this week, but did not get around to entering them into the database yet, so I do not have a solid number for how many we actually pinned.


Bycatch:

Perhaps few people are surprised that there are yet more ants in the kits. There are way too many types in our samples to cover them all, but the minor variations in size, color, and morphological structures help differentiate them. This ant from the kit by Thomas is thought to be in the genus Temnothorax.

We also had this perfectly squishable thrips in the kit by Thomas. We now have an actual mini ruler to measure the bycatch. One grain of rice is the length of the whole miniscale. Most kits have many thrips, but this is a slightly different type than what we normally get. There are not as many people interested in identifying thrips since they are so small, so it will be a while before we get confirmation. It is possibly a tube tailed thrips like these posted on bugguide: https://bugguide.net/node/view/216069

We also had several more types of wood boring beetles like this buprestid. The reddish color is actually from tiny hair-like structures. The larvae of this beetle feed on oaks.

There was also this tiny dung beetle with slight purple reflections. This beetle was also only about the size of a grain of rice, so it would be easily overlooked, especially buried in dung!

What is this tiny bulge sticking out of a side of a paper wasp, you ask? Well, it is not something that is normally in a paper wasp! This is a strepsipteran, or a twisted wing parasite. These weird beasts have a gnarly life cycle whereas the female lives inside the abdomen of her host. She eats the host, often starting with the reproductive organs earlier in the host development, so the host looks like an intersex of their species thanks to the hormone munching parasite. The parasite typically leaves the essential organs alone so the host can still take her to ideal habitat for her offspring to infect more potential hosts. Learn more about twisted wing parasites here: https://www.wired.com/2015/01/absurd-creature-of-the-week-strepsiptera/

Our last weird bycatch of the week is this wasp with greatly reduced wings. Although not much to look at, this wasp lives a big life as a rare cricket parasite! (Thanks to Miles Zhang and Matt Bertone for the ID!) This is the only observation of the species in Ohio on iNaturalist, so these are rarely reported despite being a somewhat large wasp. It is not surprising that few people find them if they spend most of their time underground searching for unsuspecting cricket hosts.

But check out just how small these wings are! The are barely longer than the thorax with hardly no veins. The wasps definitely cannot fly with such small wings. The antennae are still plenty long and are curled up back and over the wing in this image.

 

All for now,

MaLisa

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