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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Metallic Green Bee or Sweat Bee
Location: Toronto Canada
June 16, 2016 9:39 am
I have had a nest in my garden for about 6 years (it is a no dig zone). Thought I would share a photo with you. Great site! Have an awesome summer.
Signature: Scott Morrow

Metallic Green Sweat Bee and Nest

Metallic Green Sweat Bee and Nest

Dear Scott,
We love your image of a Metallic Sweat Bee hovering near her nest so much we are going to feature it this month.  According to BugGuide, Sweat Bees in the family Halictidae are:  “typically ground-nesters, with nests formed in clay soil, sandy banks of streams, etc. Most species are polylectic (collecting pollen from a variety of unrelated plants).”  We also want to commend you on your “no dig zone” which will protect the young that are developing in the nest.  We wish more of our readers were as sensitive to the environment as you are.

Wow…i am honoured!!
There is a ‘but’ though…I have been seeing small red and black bees landing on the nest site. To the best of my research they may be trying to attack the nest of the green bees (cleptoparasites I think they were called). I don’t like to alter how real life happens but I love my green bees…any suggestions?

Hi Scott
We are sorry to hear about your disappointment.  We are hoping you are able to provide an image of the “mall red and black bees.”  They sound like they might be members of the genus
Sphecodes, based on this BugGuide image.  According to BugGuide:  “Cleptoparasites, usually of other Halictinae.”

My apologies if it came across as being disappointed. I am very happy in fact.
I will try to get a picture but they are quite small and fast to fly away.
Thanks again.

Hi Scott,
Sometimes electronic communication leads to misunderstandings.  We interpreted your love for your green bees to mean you were disappointed that they were being Cleptoparasitized by the black and red relatives.  On a positive note, we doubt that all of the Green Sweat Bee young will be lost.  We eagerly await a potential image of the Cleptoparasite.

Update:  June 24, 2016
Hi Daniel
This is the best I managed to get. The Green Bee guard is blurred but can be seen in the centre of the photo.
Even though I love my Green Bees I will not harm or harass the red ones as this is what nature does.
Be well and have a great buggy summer.

Cleptoparasite Bee

Cleptoparasitic Cuckoo Bee

Hi Scott,
Thanks so much for the update.  We are confident that the red bee is a Sweat Bee in the genus
Sphecodes which is well represented on BugGuide, though we would not entirely rule out that it might be a Cuckoo Bee, Holcopasites calliopsidis, based on the images posted to Beautiful North American Bees.  That would take far more skill than our editorial staff possesses, though according to BugGuide it is a diminutive “5-6 mm”.  We will contact Eric Eaton to get his opinion.  While we feel for your affection for the Metallic Green Sweat Bees, we do not believe the presence of the red cleptoparasitic  Bees will decimate the population of the green bees.  Nature has a way of balancing out populations, and when food is plentiful, populations flourish.  Your “no dig zone” is diversifying in its inhabitants.  To add further information on cleptoparasitism, we turn to BugGuide where it defines:  “cleptoparasite (also kleptoparasite) noun – an organism that lives off of another by stealing its food, rather than feeding on it directly. (In some cases this may result in the death of a host, for example, if the larvae of the host are thereby denied food.”

Correction Courtesy of Eric Eaton
The cleptoparasite is a Nomada sp. cuckoo bee.  The host bee is Agapostemon virescens, by the way.  Never seen a turret on their nest entrance that was so tall!  Nomada is a genus in the family Apidae (formerly Anthophoridae).

Ed. Note:  When we first responded to the Cleptoparasite response, we suspected we might be dealing with a Cuckoo Bee and we prepared a response with BugGuide quotes including “Wasp-like, often red or red and black and often with yellow integumental markings” and “cleptoparasites of various bees, primarily Andrena but also Agapostemon and Eucera (Synhalonia) (these are usually larger than the Andrena cleptoparasites). (J.S. Ascher, 23.iv.2008)  males mimic the specific odors of the host females and patrol the host nest site.”  We were going to console Scott with the information that his Green Sweat Bees were most likely being scoped out by male Cuckoo Bees who had not net mated with a female, the real cleptoparasite.  Next time we will trust our first impression.


What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

June 19, 2016
We just returned from a trip to Ohio and we read in The Youngstown Vindicator that Brood V Periodical Cicadas had just begun to emerge in West Virginia.  Our cousin heard and saw them while fishing in Eastern Ohio, but we have no images to post.  Cicada Mania has a posting from a few days ago.  If you are in Ohio, West Virginia, New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania or Maryland, please send us your images of Brood V Periodical Cicadas so we can post them.  Thanks for your assistance.  We are using a Brood XIII individual taken by Venom in Glenview, Illinois in June 2007.  Periodical Cicadas emerge every 17 years or 13 years, depending upon the Brood, and they are sometimes called 17 Year Locusts, though they are unrelated Cicadas.

Periodical Cicada: Brood XIII from 2007

Periodical Cicada: Brood XIII from 2007

Subject: regarding your cicada post
Location: atlanta
June 19, 2016 10:00 am
Signature: dee

Thanks dee,
Your nymph is not that of a Periodical Cicada, and Georgia is beyond the known range for Brood V, but your image is gorgeous.  So, we are still awaiting images of true Brood V Periodical Cicadas.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: unknown insect
Location: Bay Area, California
June 14, 2016 2:45 pm
Love this site and use it often! I got this photo from a co-worker and couldn’t identify it with my books or your posts. It was found on a backpack in early June. Is it some kind of horntail larvae?
I think you are out in the field, I look forward to your answer when you return. Thanks for your time!
Signature: Jess
Resource Analyst  | Stewardship
East Bay Regional Park District
Oakland, CA

Unknown Larva

Probably Longtailed Sawfly Larva

Dear Jess,
Thanks for your patience, though we received so much mail while we were away that we will never be able to respond to everything.  This looks nothing like the drawing of a Horntail larva pictured on Bug Eric.  It appears to have an ovipositor, and we are not aware of any larvae that possess an ovipositor.  Like you, we are stumped.  We will write to Eric Eaton to see if he can provide an identification.  For now, we will classify it as a Beetle Grub, but we are not convinced that this the appropriate classification.

Eric Eaton responds
Reminds me of a rat-tailed maggot, except those don’t have legs, which this one clearly does, plus a head capsule….I’m stumped, too.

Update:  As we await additional information from Jess, we are featuring this posting and requesting assistance from our readership.
Dear Jess, please provide us with any additional information, like size.  Also, was this discovery made on a backpack in the field, or was it shortly after an excursion?

Hello Daniel,
Thanks so much for your time on this! My co-worker is off at a conference, and didn’t provide a size. However, using his photograph of the backpack(see the blurry strap?);  it looks to be about 2.5-3 stitches long. I measured the reinforced stitches on my backpack and got approx. 8-10mm. When I first saw it and said it looked like a cricket larva, he said it was “a small cricket-size”. After review of cricket larva (no ovipositor) and rat-tailed maggots, I emailed. Maybe a female after a molt? But no wings….
He was out in the field, likely a grassland in one of our parks: Alameda or Contra Costa Counties of the East Bay.
Thanks to Eric for his time too.
I hope this helps,

Thanks for the information Jess,
Now that this request is back in our consciousness, we had a thought.  It reminds us of a Sawfly Larva, especially some Australian Sawflies, and sure enough, we found a Longtailed Sawfly in our archives that looks nearly exactly like your image.  Here is another image from the Australian Museum.  Now our mission is to see if any North American Sawflies have the long tail or if this might perhaps be an Australian introduction, a direction in which we are leaning as there are so many eucalyptus trees and other Australian fauna already naturalized in Southern California.  Now, going back to your original request, you suggested a Horntail Larva, and interestingly, Horntails and Sawflies are classified together as Symphyta which you may verify on BugGuide.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Ant ? Wasp?
Location: Rancho Santa Margarita ca
May 27, 2016 8:00 pm
I found this today when I was doing some planting in my backyard. I’ve never seen anything like this but we get odd creatures all the time. I’m glad I found your site so I can get help identifying some of these that I find. The white contrast with the black legs was so striking! Not knowing what it is I kept my dog, who found it, away. Should I be concerned about more showing up?
Signature: Curious critter finder

Velvet Ant

Velvet Ant

Dear Curious critter finder,
This is both an Ant and a Wasp.  Your female, flightless Wasp in the family Mutillidae is commonly called a Velvet Ant, so she is an Ant by name and a Wasp by classification, though for even more clarification, both Wasps and Ants are classified together in the Order Hymenoptera.  Velvet Ants are not aggressive, but they are very active and purposeful, and they will defend themselves with a very painful sting should you or your dog bother one with an exposed body part.  We are going to make your sighting the Bug of the Month for June 2016.  We have had the Cow Killer, a common Velvet Ant from the eastern portion of North America featured in the past as the Bug of the Month in August 2012, but this time we want to feature the diverse Velvet Ants found in the southwest.  Many Velvet Ants sport aposomatic or warning coloration, often red or orange and black, to advertise their painful stings.  This particular individual, which may be
Dasymutilla sackeni, is well represented on BugGuide with individuals from California.

Velvet Ant

Velvet Ant

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

For Us, Donald Trump is clumsy and deadly, kind of like a Toe-Biter.  They sound stubborn too.  We can well imagine a predatory, aquatic True Bug being used by a young boy to scare a young girl.  That scenario seems somewhat Trumpian.

Close-Up of a Toe-Biter

If The Donald was a Bug:  Close-Up of a Toe-Biter

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand is much more stealth than she is clumsy, and we would not want to cross her as we imagine her wrath would be unflinching.  Hillary reminds us of a Preying Mantis.  She is deliberate and she is stronger than her mate, who can become a meal, losing his head while copulating, and never losing a beat, so that she would have the energy to raise a brood.  A Preying Mantis can turn its head to look behind it.

If Hillary was a Bug: Mantis Eats Hummer.

If Hillary was a Bug: Mantis Eats Hummer.

For Bernie Sanders, we decided to reference the “Feel the Bern” campaign slogan and we selected the Iron Cross Blister Beetle, which could cause folks to feel the burn if it is carelessly handed.  We found a great image from our archives of an Iron Cross Blister Beetle taking a dip in the swimming pool, but Bernie’s campaign is showing no evidence of cooling off as California’s primary approaches.

Iron Cross Blister Beetle: Feel the Bern

Bernie Sanders:  Cooling Off or still Feeling the Burn???

Origin of this Posting:  May 7, 2016
We thought today while working in the yard how we might anthropomorphize some bugs that remind us of the political candidates, and the first thing that came to mind today for Donald Trump, because of a comment from Roxanne we received, is a Toe-Biter.
  According to Roxanne:  “I have never been bitten. they pinch however, with their big front legs. they are also difficult to remove from clothing, as they are velcro-like. Also difficult to remove from hysterical humans, they have landed on. They are terrible flyers.. bombadiers.”

Comment from a reader
Candidate bugs
June 7, 2016 6:00 am
Loved, loved loved the Candidate comparison. And spot on. Would love to see the rest of the Republican field (pre-primaries).
Signature: Steve

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination