What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Possible Blue-eyed Carpenter Bee in the Woodpile
Location: Coryell County, Texas
June 3, 2014 8:11 pm
Hello! We’ve been puzzled by buzzing at our woodpile many warm spring/summer evenings for two years, and I finally captured some semi-clear photos of the insect. (I hate to tell you how many times I tried to photograph it! Had to use a flash, sorry.)
I thought it was a fly, but found this page on Bug Guide: http://bugguide.net/node/view/238002/bgpage
I also found this gorgeous photo on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jim_mcculloch/3003647472/in/gallery-29697818@N03-72157623044374947/
Is this a Blue-eyed carpenter bee? It was actually chewing wood, and would buzz from one area of the woodpile to another, sometimes climbing between the logs.
Thank you for helping us solve a two-year-old Mystery of the Woodpile!
Signature: Ellen

Horse Fly-like Carpenter Bee

Horsefly-like Carpenter Bee

Dear Ellen,
We agree that you have correctly identified your Carpenter Bee,
Xylocopa tabaniformis parkinsoniae, however, the common name Blue Eyed Carpenter Bee was made up by the person who posted the image to FlickR.  The scientific community carefully regulates the scientific names for insects, ensuring that like other life forms, each has a genus and species name that combine into a binomial, and the link to BugGuide that you provided also includes a subspecies name.  If we follow back to the species page on BugGuide, the common name is the Horsefly-like Carpenter Bee, and that is based on the scientific species name of “tabaniformis” and Tabanidae is the family name for Horse Flies.  The common name for the species is hyphenated, but in addition, the normal spelling of Horse Fly has been changed to Horsefly, and we find that quite curious.  We don’t know how official that name is because the only place we can find it being used is BugGuide.  So, though we agree with your identification, we cannot confirm a common name for this delightful bee.

Horsefly-like Carpenter Bee

Horsefly-like Carpenter Bee

June 3, 2014 8:22 pm
I just revisited the gorgeous Flickr photo, and realized that Blue-eyed Carpenter Bee is just what the photographer was calling the insect. He states that as far as he knows, the insect has no common name. He lives in Austin, TX.
Sorry for the mix up! The scientific name is perhaps Xylocopa tabaniformis parkinsoniae?
Thank you again!
I’ll go ahead and send a few more photos…
Signature: Ellen

Horsefly-like Carpenter Bee

Horsefly-like Carpenter Bee

Update:  June 4, 2014
Subject: Horsefly-like Carpenter Bee Leaves Us in the (Saw)dust
Location: Coryell County, Texas
June 4, 2014 12:44 pm
Hello again. I realize that I should be working and will have to make up this time later this evening, ha!, but I remembered that I had written about the buzzing from the woodpile and sawdust before. I found that post: Locust Borer On October 2, 2013 · Category: Longhorn Beetles
The locust borer was not the insect creating sawdust, so I went back to the oak firewood just now and sure enough, more sawdust. I turned the log above the sawdust over, and found our Carpenter Bee, hard at work. The log has several tunnels carved into it by the industrious bees. I’ll attach some photos. In one, you can see her (?) abdomen as she busily kicks out sawdust. She paid absolutely no attention to me whatsoever. Another photo shows the entire piece of wood, and one shows the empty tunnel entrance after she had kicked out sawdust and climbed all the way back into the tunnel to chew some more. I wonder if the long tunnel to the right of the working bee had housed larvae before? It had some sort of substance in part of it, that looked like old sawdust, perhaps, or pollen?
I also discovered and photographed a beautiful little moth that was trying hard to look like a lichen, and succeeding very well. It can be seen at the lower left part of the log.
After taking the photos, I turned the wood back over and placed it where it had been before.
So, now I suppose we should locate the woodpile farther away from the house, given the bees’ prodigious wood-chewing abilities, and I’ll see about repainting the trim on the house soon to discourage any house-chewing, and I wonder if I’ll need to check for tunnels in the wood before burning firewood next winter? Would hate to be a home wrecker!
Thanks again! Love your site, except for folks’ parasite questions but that’s part of life, too, I guess.
How you answer so diplomatically I’ll never know, but I always learn something or have a bit of a laugh when I visit What’s That Bug.
Best wishes,
Signature: Ellen

Horsefly-Like Carpenter Bee
Nest of a Horsefly-Like Carpenter Bee

 Hi Ellen,
We are very happy you wrote in and clarified the mystery of the holes in the wood from the Locust Borer sighting last year as well as connecting it to the more recent Horsefly-Like Carpenter Bee sighting.  We suppose this means you will be inspecting the wood carefully before tossing it on the fire to ensure that any logs with nests are saved until the Bees emerge.  Providing habitat for local pollinating insects insects helps to ensure that the plants in your yard will be fruitful.  We are also happy you find our responses amusing.  In selecting which of the many identification requests we receive each day to post, we try to have a nice balance between gorgeous images, exotic locations, common sightings, seasonal occurances and the absurd.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Coryell County, Texas
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5 Responses to Horsefly-like Carpenter Bee and Nest

  1. Ellen says:

    Thank you! I had thought that the Horsefly-like Carpenter Bee was just a description and not an actual name.
    This bee is pretty big, perhaps over half an inch long. I’ll watch the spots that the bee was busiest with, and perhaps will see larvae emerge sometime.
    Thank you again. Love your website!
    Ellen

  2. Ellen says:

    Two more references for the Carpenter Bee. I couldn’t find a common name except on Bug Guide, either. I noticed in the photos that they like some native flowers that we are growing in our garden. I’ll keep an eye out for photo ops. 🙂
    https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/366664
    http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=685001
    Thank you again!

  3. […] care of some long-neglected chores on my back patio recently, I had the opportunity to watch a Horsefly-like Carpenter Bee, Xylocopa tabaniformis (parkinsoniae?), drill into the wood frame of the covered porch. Grateful […]

  4. […] all-time favorite native bee species is the Horsefly-like Carpenter bee, Xylocopa tabaniformis.   With lovely blue peepers and snazzy abdominal racing stripes, these […]

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