Subject: Tiny bee
Geographic location of the bug: Billings MT
Time: 06:19 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Green head and abdomen, iridescent orange thorax, size of a small grain of rice. I was totally fascinated by this insect. It was foraging on a sunflower leaf. As it was walking away, it’s thorax shone like a high beam orange light! Unfortunately the glowing photo was a blurry but gives you an idea of the orange glow I was seeing.
How you want your letter signed: Lisa Gerard
What a beautiful little gem you have discovered, but it is a Cuckoo Wasp, not a Bee. Thanks to this and other images on BugGuide, we identified your Cuckoo Wasp as Pseudomalus auratus. According to BugGuide: “native to, and widespread in the Palaearctic, introduced in NA (e. US, UT, CA…)” and “‘The wasp oviposits inside the aphids but it gets more complicated. The aphid with a chrysidid egg inside must be captured by crabronid wasp and taken to its nest. Some crabronids hunt aphids for food provision to their offspring. Later, inside crabronid wasp’s nest the chrysidid egg will hatch, kill crabronid larva and consume the food provision (aphids). This is how chrysidid gets her egg inside the crabronid wasp nest without risking entering to the nest herself.’ (Villu Soon, 11.vii.2017).” It is also pictured on Bees, Wasps & Ants Recording Society and on Bug Eric,where it states: “Larvae of this wasp are kleptoparasites in the nests of other solitary wasps, and solitary bees, that nest inside hollow twigs, pre-existing cavities in wood, and similar situations. Known hosts include the smaller wasps in the family Crabrionidae, and bees in the genera Ceratina (small carpenter bees, family Apidae), Hylaeus (masked bees, family Colletidae), and Anthidium (wool-carder or cotton bees, family Megachilidae). The cuckoo wasp grub feeds on the provisions stored by the mother of the host larva. They literally steal the meal provided by the host for its offspring.”