Ever seen a mob of tiny sweat bees?
The bees below, from the genus Lasioglossum (as identified by native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis), just about flash-mobbed an Iceland poppy.
These hungry little bees were a sight to see.
The genus, the largest of all bee genera, contains more than 1700 species in numerous subgenera worldwide, according to Wikipedia. "They are highly variable in size, coloration, and sculpture; among the more unusual variants, some are cleptoparasites, some are nocturnal, and some are oligolectic. Most Lasioglossum nest in the ground, but some species nest in rotten logs."
Why are they called "sweat bees?" Not an attractive name, is it? Well, they're called sweat bees because they're attracted to the salt in human sweat.
Doom or gloom? Boom or bloom?
Today is Earth Day, and millions of folks around the world stopped--at least for a moment--to pay tribute to the 46th annual observance. They planted trees, weeded their gardens, greeted pollinators, or just thought about environmental issues.
Every Earth Day, we pay special attention to the tower of jewels (Echium wildpretii). The biannual, native to the Canary Islands, off the coast of Morocco, is a favorite in pollinator gardens, including ours. Seven feet tall and graced with pinkish blossoms splashed with blue pollen, it lives up to its name...tower of jewels.
Then it morphs into a tower of bees. Hello, honey bees, bumble bees, sweat bees and carpenter bees.
As they dive in, will they not only survive but thrive? If we each do our part, we can help the pollinators thrive.
Happy Earth Day!
There's an old saying that "good things come in threes."
Well, they also come in twos.
When insect photographers manage to get two insects in the same photo, it's a "two-for."
Autumn is in full swing now, and the colder weather is settling in, but insects continue to provide a variety of diverse photo opportunities.
Two of a kind: a pair of mating Gulf Fritillary butterflies on a passionflower vine, two female sweat bees on goldenrod, and two female Valley carpenter bees on a passion flower.
Gulf Fritillary butterflies: Agraulis vanillae.
Sweat bees: Halictus ligatus.
Valley carpenter bees: Xylocopa varipuncta.
But if you look closely, there are three insects in the Valley carpenter bee photo. The other is a Gulf Fritillary caterpillar.
Good things come in threes, too.
It's St. Patrick's Day tomorrow and time for "The Wearing of the Green."
"The Wearing of the Green" is actually an Irish street ballad dating back to the Irish Rebellion of 1798. The author: anonymous. The color of choice: green. Members of the Society of United Irishmen wore green shamrocks to display their loyalty to the rebellion.
Now take insects. Tomorrow, if you're lucky, you might see some "wearing of the green." But not likely, unless you're visiting a museum and see pinned specimens. The metallic green sweat bees, Agapostemon texanus, aren't out yet in this part of the country.
Very striking, they are. The females are all green. The males are partly green; their head and thorax are green, but not their abdomen.
Still, Saturday, March 17 is a good day to think green!
Mother's Day, insect-style, dawned like any other day. In our back yard, golden honey bees foraged in the lavender and those ever-so-tiny sweat bees visited the rock purslane.
The honey bees? Those gorgeous Italians.
The sweat bees? Genus Lasioglossum, as identified by native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis. He figures the female sweat bee (below) may be L. mellipes, which is brownish toward the tips of the hind legs.
A trip to Benicia yielded a photo of a ladybug chasing aphids. It was almost comical. A fat aphid appeared to be playing "King of the Hill" while other aphids sucked contentedly on plant juices, unaware of pending predators.
While the aphids wreaked havoc on a very stressed Escallonia (fast-growing hedge in the family Escalloniaceae), the ladybugs, aka lady beetles, wreaked havoc on some very stressed aphids.
After all, "stressed" spelled backwards is "desserts."