I’ve realized that I can no longer keep up with the demands of the site, so it will be closing as of May 12th… unless someone buys it from me to take over its content and management.
Add comment May 4, 2013
Hi to all my visitors and subscribers!
It’s been a busy few months since I finished my Ph.D. in May. I’ve spent most of my time looking for jobs, and am still not fully employed even now. So, in light of how much time the job search takes, I’m putting this blog on hiatus until I have a more stable life situation. Hopefully I’ll be back soon! In the mean time, I hope you’ll enjoy perusing the archives and resources pages!
3 comments September 9, 2012
Bees in the genus Diadasia are known as sunflower or cactus bees because member species tend to prefer to visit… sunflowers or cacti! Some species are specialists of plants in the mallow and primrose families too.
Cactus bees are about the size of a honey bee, but much fuzzier and more pale, with light stripes on their abdomens. You’ll see these bees from around April into June, and females nest in the ground. Often, choice patches of loose, sandy soil will have hundreds of individual nests, called an aggregation. Each female builds her own nest tunnel, but doesn’t mind having neighbors close by.
Male Diadasia often have very long antennae, earning this genus the nickname of “long-horned bees.” Other long-horned bee genera include Melissodes and Svastra, but Diadasia species are smaller than both. There are about 43 Diadasia species in the world, all restricted to the Americas; 30 of these are found in North America, mostly in the Southwest.
The fact that these bees often specialize in one group of plants makes them especially good at pollinating those flowers. Although sunflowers and cacti are visited by MANY bees and other animals, Diadasia and other specialists are more likely to deposit pollen on the stigmas of one flower that is from the anthers of another flower of the same species. This means that visits from these bees are highly likely to result in successful pollination!
Have you seen these bees? Where were you, and what were the bees doing? Share your story with us in the comments below!
Get to know your native bees with the Xerces Society’s fabulous guide, Attracting Native Pollinators! Get your copy now by clicking on the title or the cover image below!
5 comments August 26, 2012
This week’s feature from Etsy is a shameless plug for my own shop- NatureGoods! I’ve got several items that feature pollinators, including bees and butterflies. I just listed this cute bee bookmark yesterday and thought some of you might like it as much as I do! The listing says there’s only one, but I could make more if you let me know you want some!
Just click on the photo to go straight to the listing on Etsy, and thanks for having a look!
Add comment August 26, 2012
Did you know that some butterflies feed exclusively from ripe fruit, tree sap, even dung and carrion? It’s true! These species, such as the lovely commas (Polygonia), don’t serve as important pollinators because they don’t visit flowers. However, there are many butterfly species that are both pollinators AND fruit-feeders!
Painted ladies (Vanessa cardui) and question marks (Polygonia interrogationis) are two species that feed from rotting fruit AND serve as flower pollinators. The photo above is of a painted lady.
Make your yard a haven for butterflies that are fruit-feeders and pollinators by setting out a fruit feeding station. This is really easy to do, and all you really need is overripe fruit, a plate, and a stand:
- Elevate your feeding station to deter fire ants (which could kill the butterflies) by using a log, chair, or anything you have handy that is at least 2′ tall.
- Open your fruit by peeling bananas and splitting them down the middle, or breaking other fruits in half so the butterflies can get to the insides.
- Put your fruit pieces on a plate, set the plate on your elevated stand, and watch through a window to see who visits!
Your fruit feeding station will definitely attract other visitors- look for fruit flies, birds, and beetles too! Many of these other visitors are also pollinators, so have fun identifying your fruit visitors.
Have you used a fruit feeding station before? Tell us where you live and who stopped by in the comments below!
Get to know your butterflies with a field guide! There are butterfly guides to almost every region of the world! For the eastern US, I like the Peterson guide, A Field Guide to Eastern Butterflies. Order yours now by clicking on the title or the cover image below!
3 comments August 19, 2012