- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
In case you missed it, today was National Pumpkin Day.
But it ought to be National Squash Bee Day, because the squash bee (my favorite species is Peponapis pruinosa) is an important pollinator of squash and pumpkins.
A little bit about the squash bees:
- Squash bees are specialists; not generalists. Squash bees pollinate only the cucurbits or squash family, Cucurbitaceae, which includes pumpkins, squash, gourds, cucumbers and zucchini.
- Both the males and females are golden brown with a fuzzy yellow thorax. The males have a yellow spot on their face.
- Males sleep in the blossoms at night. They're waiting for the females to arrive.
- Squash bees are early risers (they rise before the sun does). They begin pollinating the blossoms as soon as they open in the morning. Other bee species, such as honey bees, don't visit the flowers so early. The squash blossoms close after several hours so there's a limited amount of pollination time.
Wikipedia says: "The name squash bee, also squash and gourd bee, is applied to two related genera of bees in the tribe Eucerini; Peponapis and Xenoglossa." Both genera are oligoleges (pollen specialists) on the cucurbits.
Another reason why we should be concerned, according to Wikipedia: "Species such as Peponapis pruinosa have been in decline due to several reasons, probably at least in part to pesticide sensitivity."
Happy Squash Bee Day!/span>