Currently viewing the category: "Bumble Bees"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

I heard about your site in German TV and so I remembered a photo I’d taken in 2006 in Sweden. That little bug is “torturing” a bumble-bee by pinching its proboscis. Can you tell me what ‘s happening there? Kind regards

Hi H,
You are the second letter we received today that mentioned seeing our site on television. Our first job is to identify your beetle. This appears to be a Flea Beetle in the tribe Alticini, but we would like verification. Hopefully, Eric Eaton can substantiate that. This diminutive beetle cannot possibly think the bee is food, but it might be hitching a ride, a phenomenon known as Phoresy. We hope to get clarification on that from Eric Eaton as well.

Hi, Daniel:
That is a really remarkable shot of the beetle clamped onto the bumble bee! It is not a flea beetle, or any other type of Chrysomelidae leaf beetle as far as I can tell (flea beetles get their name from their ability to jump, not because they are parasitic). I suspect it is some kind of sap beetle (family Nitidulidae), some of which can be abundant inside flowers.

Update: (02/08/2008)
Hello Daniel,
I think I have a proper guess what sort of a beetle this might be! It belongs to the genus Antherophagus (fam. Cryptophagidae, silken fungus beetles), which has three species in Sweden, all developing in nests of bumble bees. I think this one is A. pallens (Linnaeus, 1758) (~4 mm), which is the most common species of the genus. All species visit flowers to clamp onto bumble bees to hitch a ride and infest their nests. But the larvae are supposed to be harmless to their hosts, feeding on the bees’ faeces. So this is a perfect example of a picture showing the start of a Phoresy! Best,
Bengt Andersson Sweden

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

crab spider
Where was this site when I found some crazy huge fuzzy spider!? I see the spider in my photo has been identified a couple of times already but I just wanted to share this photo (I’m just proud of it). I am actually terrified of spiders but still find them quite interesting. I like honey bees and I am wondering about the fate of the honey bee in the photo. They got into quite the scuffle and eventually the honey bee flew off – I am just wondering if he’d be alright after a a fight with one of these guys.

Hi Rebecca,
What’s That Bug? has been accepting correspondance from our curious readership online for over five years, and prior to that, for two years in print, though the modest photocopied American Homebody zine probably never crossed your path. Your Crab Spider is stalking a Bumble Bee, not a Honey Bee. Unless the spider sank its fangs into the bee, the Bumble Bee probably lived to pollinate numerous flowers after the near fatal encounter. Sadly, Crab Spiders do not know the difference between beneficial and harmful insects. Since Crab Spiders spend so much time on flowers, a large portion of their prey consists of beneficial pollinators.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

help with bees
I took these pictures of some kind of bees that ruined several of my plants last summer. I think one must be the queen, judging from the relative sizes. They burrow large caverns under clumps of plants (especially thyme) and the plant above dies. Do you know of any way to discourage them this year? By the way, we live in NE Pennsylvania.

These are Bumble Bees and they do make underground chambers. We are surprised to hear that their little hive has killed your plants. we have no suggestions.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

black & yellow winged . . . ???
I found this little guy [girl?] outside on the walk. Seems to be ailing or injured as it has barely moved in a day. Besides the yellow on the head, it has a yellow stripe across his butt. Interesting fuzzy legs that have little hooked ends.
Mike Armstrong
San Diego area

Hi Mike,
This is a Yellow Faced Bumble Bee, Bombus vosnesenskii. BugGuide has some additional photos, but not much information.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

About your site
Hello! I just wanted to let you know that you have the most helpful and organized site I have ever been on. I’ve spent a good 20 mins. looking at other websites attempting to find out what kind of spider I had next to my back door. After a few moments on your site I found her (or him), turns out she is a Orb Weaver, she is very interesting to watch. While on a field trip for biology I found a very unsual caterpiller and again, only a few moments and I found he was a White Marked Tussock Moth Caterpiller. I will be using your regularly since I am always finding interesting bugs. I am also sending a pic of the Orb Weaver munching on a large bumblebee. Enjoy, Thanks again!!!
~Caitlin of NJ

Hi Caitlin,
Thanks for your thoughtful letter. We do get our share of letters telling us how difficult our site is to navigate and offering us suggestions on how to make it better, so it is nice to hear you call it organized. Organization is really not our strong feature. Your Araneus Orb Weaver is a magnificent specimen.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Mt Washington, Los Angeles, CA
July 2, 2006
Since our internet access here at the What’s That Bug? offices is so pokey because Earthlink has downgraded us to dialup, we decided to catch up on some gardening. First we pulled out the swiss chard that had gone to seed and then decided to heat up some coffee. A large dark flying shape caught our eye in the front yard. It landed on the zucchini. Closer inspection revealed this pair of mating Yellow Faced Bumble Bees,
Bombus vosnesenkii. They have been going at it for about 15 minutes and allowed us to make use of our photographic training by capturing the action digitally.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination