We are now up to 33,000 bees identified to at least genus from the bee bowl project, which is just over 60% done. Of those, over 18,000 bees are identified to species (33% complete).
The lab has been busy for the past several weeks and we are happy with the help from volunteers and our intern in Newark. Our intern has help identify over 1,500 bees to species and is now helping process the hover fly specimens as well. We hope to have the hover flies identified by the end of the year, but thankfully there are only 8,000 hover fly specimens compared to the 53,000 bees. It also helps that about 90% of the hover flies from the samples are in the genus Toxomerus, which is an easy genus to learn to identify to species.
To learn how to identify hover flies (also called flower flies), see this online guide: https://sites.google.com/view/flyguide/syrphidae
or these good field guides: https://press.princeton.edu/books/paperback/9780691189406/field-guide-to-the-flower-flies-of-northeastern-north-america
Specialist Bee Project Pinning:
In addition to the 2020 bee bowls, we also had people across Ohio target specialist bees. We had our first “pinning party” for the specialist bee project last week, with 4 people bringing 500 bees to the lab. We had a fun time and got everything pinned.
Jim Lundberg also brought his macrophotography focus stacking setup, so he imaged some cool specimens from our project.
Thanks to everyone who has made it to the lab and helped us pin, photograph, and identify specimens!
Weird finds from the bee bowl project:
Just in time for Halloween, we have the insect of nightmares: Twisted Wing Parasites!
They may not look like much, but their life cycle is rather horrifying. They burrow into their host insect, and eat the hosts internal organs, often starting with the reproductive organs, but leaving enough organs for the host to survive. Since they start with the reproductive organs, the host often develops to look like an intersex instead of distinctly male or female (which makes identifying the host to species harder as many characters are sex specific). The female twisted wing parasites are often a glorified sack of eggs sticking out of the abdomen of the host insect. We mostly find the females since they remain in the abdomen.
For more on the weird life cycles of twisted wing parasites, see: https://www.wired.com/2015/01/absurd-creature-of-the-week-strepsiptera/
I also covered twisted wing parasites (Order Strepsiptera) in two other blogs: https://u.osu.edu/beesurvey/2021/01/11/jan-10-progress-updates-and-at-home-tasks/ and https://u.osu.edu/beesurvey/2021/06/28/june-27-updates-of-the-week/
We also had another terrifying predator, if you happen to be a beetle larvae.
All for now,