Milkweed Meadow Continued: Which Bumble Bee is it?????

August 4, 2011
We walked back to the Milkweed Meadow in Elyria Canyon Park this morning to check on the status of the two Monarch Caterpillars,
Danaus plexippus, thinking that they might have transformed into chrysalides, but I could only find one of the caterpillars.  Hopefully the other was just elsewhere, or perhaps it found a nice place to metamorphose into a chrysalis

Monarch Caterpillar

A very wary Bumble Bee would not let me get close enough with the camera, and after several aborted attempts, we were lucky enough to get a few photos.  This is most definitely not a Yellow Faced Bumble Bee.  We were not able to get any photos of the abdominal markings until the last image.

Crotch’s or California Bumble Bee???

Just as it was flying off it showed its signature markings, but interestingly, it doesn’t match any of the images on BugGuide for the four species that Charles Hogue, in his landmark book Insects of the Los Angeles Basis, indicates are found locally.  After a bit more searching, we determined it might be Crotch’s Bumble Bee, Bombus crotchii, based on the illustration on the North American Bumble Bees and confirmed on the third photo down on the Las Pilitas Nursery webpage, and that appears to agree with this BugGuide image as well.  The Discover Life website also has photos.  Continued research is filling us with doubts.  It seems to match what we identified as a California Bumble Bee when we found one napping on the wisteria this spring.

Crotch’s or California Bumble Bee???

There appeared to be more Large Milkweed Bugs today than on Sunday, and there were several places where the Milkweed Aphids, AKA Oleander Aphids, Aphis nerii, were quite plentiful.  Read more about Milkweed Aphids on BugGuide.

Milkweed Aphids

Before leaving, I made sure to pull some more Marestail or Horseweed, Conyza species (See Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide or CalFlora) and more of that prickly yellow flower that is still not properly identified that might be a Spiny Sowthistle, Sonchus asper (See Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide).

Update:  on the Bumble Bee identity
August 5, 2011
Now we aren’t certain if the Bumble Bee is a California Bumble Bee or a Crotch’s Bumble Bee.

Update:  August 7, 2011
I returned to the Milkweed Meadow in Elyria Canyon Park to search for the Monarch Chrysalis, but the only caterpillar I could find has still not metamorphosed. 

Monarch Caterpillar in Elyria Canyon, August 7, 2011

I did get some additional photo of the Bumble Bee as well.  Here are the abdominal markings from a different angle.

Which Bumble Bee is it? Crotch’s or California???

Update:  August 11, 2011
I made a trip to the Milkweed Meadow in Elyria Canyon Park this evening about 6:30 and I was unable to find any Monarch Caterpillars.  I hope they wandered away from the milkweed to find a suitable location to transform into chrysalides.  I photographed a couple of Large Milkweed Bugs. 

Large Milkweed Bugs

The new addition to the insects that have become part of the milkweed ecosystem are Small Milkweed Bugs.  I found them  on two different milkweed plants. 

Small Milkweed Bugs

The individual I photographed was a difficult subject, and it kept hiding among the blossoms of the milkweed inflorescence.  I needed to intervene by including my hand in the photo to get a nice angle on the unwilling subject.

Small Milkweed Bug






2 thoughts on “Milkweed Meadow Continued: Which Bumble Bee is it?????”

  1. I have no photo, but hopefully you will recognize the descriptiom.
    On my tomato plant there was a fine rust colored net with busy, very small insects , rushing about. As the days passed many leaves and stems were covered with a whitish frost. They began to wither. I have tied to wash with soapy water to repel the insects, but more tomatoes and leaves are covered with the white frost. I don’t see anymore rust colored insects or web.

    a fine web in which tiny (much smaller than an ant) insects are scurying about


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