Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Bees and Wasps from the Yard

Now that it is August, I have been seeing a somewhat different cast of bees and wasps in the yard. Here are a few recent ones. The bee above should be recognizable as a bumble bee, in this case a Common Eastern Bumble Bee (Bombus impatiens). These can look very similar to carpenter bees, but bumble bees have a much hairier abdomen, like this one. I have also noticed that the bumble bees around here tend to sport a paler shade of yellow than carpenter bees, but I am not sure if that is consistent elsewhere. This individual was quite large, about the same size as a carpenter bee.

The second insect is a grass-carrying wasp, probably Isodontia mexicana. Wasps in this genus are often seen carrying stems of grass. They use this material to line the cavities where their young will spend the winter.

The third in this group is a beewolf, probably Philanthus gibbosus. Wasps in this genus hunt bees and carry the paralyzed bees back to their burrows. There the bees become food for the beewolves' larvae. According to BugGuide, another species in the genus prefers taking honey bees but will also capture sweat bees (Halictus sp.). Adults feed on nectar.

This photo provides a better look at the face of a Philanthus gibbosus