Geographic location of the bug: Portland, Oregon
Time: 05:20 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: For several years we’ve had a type of “hovering” yellow jacket type wasp that hunts and kills bees. Usually rip the wings off, rarely takes the bee, just leaves it to die. This year, huge fuzzy ones, sort of golden brown colored fur, have shown up. Yesterday alone I found a dozen injured bees. It also goes after bumblebees. Today I managed to kill one. It’s over 2cm long and has a 3 barbed tail. I cannot find anything comparable. Some kind of hybrid? Thoughts? Second photo is the monster next to one of the regular sized non fuzzy bee hunters.
How you want your letter signed: Bee lover
Time: 05:07 PM EDT
I have made a positive ID of the bee killer. They are, in fact, European wool carder bees, considered an invasive species here in Oregon. I feel 100% justified in my “carnage” if it spares some of the many native pollinators (I actually had Western bumblebees this year!) I have here on my little plot, and I hope the big one was a queen. Last year these guys took down a yellow faced bumblebee queen. No need to answer my id question. Thank you.
Thanks so much for getting back to us with what you learned because you provided some very interesting information for our readers that we did not know, but we would also like some clarification. According to BugGuide regarding the introduced European Wool Carder Bees (and if what you observed is accurate, we agree that this is NOT Unnecessary Carnage): “Males defend their territory very aggressively not only against other males but also against other flower visitors” but we did not realize that included apicide. In the case of this species, the size difference between the males and the females is the opposite of what we have come to expect from most Hymenopterans where the female is the larger sex because BugGuide indicates: “Female: 11–13 mm. Male: 14–17 mm” You wrote: “Second photo is the monster next to one of the regular sized non fuzzy bee hunters.” You included two images of the yellow and black male Wool Carder Bee which is the protagonist in your letter, and the second image contains that individual as well as a much larger Hymenopteran, which does not agree with what you wrote. Additionally, both look fuzzy and you wrote about a different predator that “regular sized non fuzzy bee hunters.” What you wrote does not seem to agree with your images. Please clarify because it seems the “‘hovering’ yellow jacket type wasp that hunts and kills bees” is actually the male European Wool Carder Bee and the “monster” is still not identified. See our posting and please comment on the posting for clarification.