Subject: Xylocopa virginica – Eastern Carpenter Bee (female?)
Location: Naperville, IL
September 1, 2012 9:40 pm
Hi Daniel~
I have dozens of these large bees visiting the butterfly bushes at my house. I have tried to get a good, clear photo of one for several weeks, but they’ve always got their faces in the flowers, and they don’t linger in any one location for very long, so my shots were always blurry, despite bright, sunny mornings. By bumping up the ISO, I was able to minimize motion blur yet still get good enough depth of field for the photo. And I finally confirmed that these are not bumble bees, but solitary carpenter bees. I read that males have whitish faces, but since I see only the back-faced variety, I am wondering if I am looking at it in the wrong way. I hope you have a lovely Labor Day weekend.
Signature: -Dori Eldridge

Eastern Carpenter Bee

Hi Dori,
Your efforts paid off.  We agree that this is an Eastern Carpenter Bee.  Since your photo does not show the individual head on, we are relying on your observations that the face is black, though it does appear to be black in the photo as well.  BugGuide provides some nice information on the Eastern Carpenter Bee, including:  “Nests (galleries) are built in dry, standing wood. Conifers are preferred. Eggs are laid on masses of pollen and nectar, several (6-8) to a gallery. One generation per year in most of range. Adults emerge in late summer, overwinter, mate and nest in spring. Perhaps two generations per year in Florida.”

Thank you, Daniel! I thought I sent a second, full-face photo of the carpenter bee, but I mustn’t have. My bushes are teeming with them now – late summer emergence. Luckily, they don’t appear to be drilling into my wooden siding. We had an exciting day here yesterday. A wooly bear caterpillar we found in our garage several weeks ago and kept as a “pet” was a bit overdue in emerging from its cocoon. I had been checking it daily, and yesterday when I lifted the mesh screen door of its box, I immediately saw a tiny exit hole in the cocoon, but no Isabella Tiger Moth. Instead, there was a guilty, but pretty nonetheless, red-eyed tachinid fly.  They seem well represented on, so I won’t bother you with photos, but I did identify it as Leschenaultia bicolor, and in all my years rearing Monarchs, I have never heretofore come across one of these parasitoid flies. It was quite a surprise.
All the best to you,
-Dori Eldridge

Location: Illinois

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