Given all that is going on in the world these days, you might not have noticed an article about insect populations undergoing "death by a thousand cuts." (Scientific article in PNAS, AP article carried by various outlets). Essentially, the authors have gathered 12 studies written by 56 scientists around the world showing that insect numbers are in decline.
What to do? Go out and see some insects, of course.
Even though it has been relatively cold, plus dry to the extreme, we still have bees in the desert marigold flowers.
The pollen baskets on her back legs are packed with pollen, which she is carrying from flower to flower. What bits of pollen that dribble off will pollinate the next flower she visits.
This week the honey bees prefer the fairy dusters and the rosemary plants, both of which are flowering as well. The fairy duster flower is unusual -- a puffy cluster of anthers.
The bottom line is that one way to help pollinators is to plant a diversity of flowers, especially native ones.
Do you plan to plant flowers this year?
In the past I've posted an end of the year list of my favorite photographs. This year let's mix it up with a matching quiz. Can you match the adult insect with its immature stage or something associated with it? If you want to, leave your results in the comments. Bonus points for correct identifications. Note: Not all letters have been used. All the photos are from 2020.
A. She's a big-eyed beauty on a stick.
B. This mimic may fool you because it resembles another popular insect.
C. Often seen visiting flowers.
D. Flies away to the mountains in the summer.
K. The hardest of all, although the answer is here in the blog.
Now match the adults with their life stages or products.
F. Has a very specific host plant.
G. Sitting on a tree trunk.
H. Hungry, hungry.
I. What life stage is this?
L. Not an insect, but produced by insects.
(The answers are now posted.)
The male bees have been photogenic this month. After the male carpenter bee two weeks ago, I found something unusual on a milkweed early one morning.
Actually, it isn't really unusual, you just have to get up early in the morning to see it. This is a cluster of male long-horned bees "sleeping" on a plant overnight.
If you look at bit closer, you can see the long antennae that give them the common name long-horned bee.
Isn't it adorable?
These particular bees likely belong to the Genus Melissodes.
If the male bees form a cluster to sleep on a plant overnight, where are the females?
Each female long-horned bee builds a tunnel nest in the soil, so that's where she stays at night. During the day she gathers nectar and pollen from flowers to provision her nest and then lays eggs on the food.
What do the male bees do during the day?
You can spot the male bees hovering around plants with flowers defending them from other bees and looking for females to mate with.
Have you ever been lucky enough to spot a cluster of sleeping bees?