Subject: stripes and red legs
Location: coastal South Carolina USA
June 4, 2017 7:20 pm
Thanks for the great website!
I took this photo of a cutie-pie with stripes and red legs on Memorial Day in my bed of native plants from coastal South Carolina. The primary flowers blooming nearby were Stokes aster and Lanceleaf coreopsis. I don’t recall ever seeing one before; could you please help identify it?
After some research, we believe this is a Cuckoo Bee in the subfamily Nomadinae. We found several images on BugGuide that look similar. Do you have any images of the front of the insect? This BugGuide image of Epeolus autumnalis, this BugGuide image of Epeolus scutellaris, and this BugGuide image of Triepeolus lunatus all look similar to your individual. According to BugGuide: “All lack a pollen-transporting apparatus and many are strikingly wasp-like in appearance. The apex of the metasoma of females is modified for placing their eggs within host nests” and “All are parasites in the nests of other bees. They enter the nests of their hosts when the host is absent and lay their eggs into the wall of the cell. Females produce many more eggs than their hosts and these are very small.” We are post-dating your submission to go live to our site later in the month when our editorial staff is away on holiday.
Thank you very much! Yes! You have solved the mystery!
Unfortunately the photo I submitted was the only one I took (lesson learned for next time), but after receiving your message I reviewed images I found searching the Internet for “Epeolus” and I’ve located a few with red legs, matching markings, and the same antennae and they appear to match-up very nicely with my photo.
It is especially interesting the specimen is a bee as my husband and I have a hive in our backyard we manage as urban/hobby beekeepers here in Charleston. I have been reading and studying to try to learn as much as possible to help promote the use of native plants to sustain bees and all native pollinators. Recently I accepted an invitation to make a presentation about the topic and I’ve been keeping notes about special characteristics or unusual behaviors of various bees that I learned from reading “Attracting Native Pollinators” guide by The Xerces Society. Since some of the folks attending are also National Audubon Society members, I planned to mention the similar behavior the cuckoo bee has to the cuckoo bird; however, I am just elated that now I can include a photo of one from my own yard!
I really appreciate your kindness taking time researching/responding to my question and I’m delighted you and your colleagues will be taking a well deserved holiday soon. Enjoy!
Thanks a buzz-zillion! : )
All my best,