Posts Tagged: Pollinators
When you see the blow fly (below), what do you think?
Well, that depends on who you are and what you do--or maybe your earliest negative/positive insect recollections.
If you hate flies, particularly blow flies, and you despise their larvae (maggots), your response is probably "Yecch!"
If you're an artist, you might think, "Look at that metallic green sheen and those red eyes!"
If you're a photographer: "What kind of camera and macro lens did you use?" (Nikon D700, 60mm)
If you're into flowers, you might say "Ah, a New Zealand tea tree--Leptospermum scoparium. Fly? What fly? Is there a fly there?"
If you're a beekeeper and see only the Leptospermum scoparium: "Manuka honey!"
If you're a medical doctor and treat wounds: "Maggot therapy!"
If you're an entomologist, particularly a forensic entomologist: "Nice!"
And if you've ever visited the UC Davis Department of Entomology displays at Briggs Hall during the annual campuswide Picnic Day, you''re probably thinking "Maggot Art!" and "When's Picnic Day?" (Note: this year's Picnic Day is April 21, and yes, you can create Maggot Art (take a bow, Rebecca O'Flaherty).
However, if you're an entomologist with a keen interest in insect ecology and insect/plant interactions, the blow fly will bring out the "P" word in you: "Pollinator!"
Honey bees, native bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, bats and the like are all pollinators. But so are flies, including syprhid flies and yes, blow flies.
Blow fly on a New Zealand tea tree (Leptospermum scoparium). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Blow fly gathering nectar from New Zealand tea tree. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Mama said there'd be days like this,
There'd be days like this, Mama said...
When Van Morrison wrote the lyrics to "Days Like This," a song popularized by The Shirelles, he probably wasn't thinking of a mama garden spider or her prey.
Still, when Mama Spider weaves her web and snares three pollinators in two days, that's a "Wow." A double, triple "Wow!"
Garden spiders are good to have in the garden when they're capturing and eating pests, like flies, knats, mites, lygus bugs, katydids and the like. Just wish they'd quit picking on the pollinators.
Still, Mama has to eat.
Mama spider snares two in one web. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
“I’ve got black bumblebees buzzing around our backyard like crazy,” the caller said. “They’re loud. Very loud. They’re dive-bombing and scaring the cat and dog. I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
The unwelcome visitors were not bumblebees. They were carpenter bees.
Carpenter bees? No, they don’t know how to read blueprints or frame floors and walls. They nest in weathered wood, like your fence posts, utility poles or firewood. They tunnel into your deck, railing, shingles and shutters.
They are pests. But they’re also pollinators.
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, professor emeritus at the UC Davis Department of Entomology, fields many calls about carpenter bees.
This one pictured below is a male carpenter bee, Xylocopa tabaniformis orpifex Smith NB, Thorp says.
“It is stealing nectar from the base of the flower. They also spend a lot of time cruising around chasing everything that enters their territory.”
Contrary to popular opinion, carpenter bees don’t consume wood. If you don’t want them around, paint or varnish your wood. You can also plug their (unoccupied) holes with steel wool or caulk, or screen the holes so they don’t return.
The female and male carpenter bees that nectar the salvia (sage) in our bee friendly garden are about the size of bumblebees. “Robust” comes to mind. Okay, fat. They’re fat.
Their abdomens are bare and a shiny black. If you photograph them, you’ll see your own reflection. It’s like seeing your reflection in a black Lamborghini.
The female carpenter bees are a solid black, while the male carpenter bees are lightly colored around the head.
In comparison, bumblebees have hairy abdomens with at least some yellow markings.
If I were a carpenter and you were a…nah, I’d rather be a bumblebee./o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>
Male Carpenter Bee