Saturday, July 16, 2022

Insect Comics by Bernie & Nature



Laugh and Learn when you can; 

 Insect Comics by Bernie and Nature!

Insect Comics by Bernie and Nature is sponsored by the Insect Alliance, Solidarity for All Life, and our highly valued Local Pollinators with special thanks to iNaturalist and all the volunteers who help ID postings to iNaturalist. Recognizing our bond with all living things - and finding funny as well as respect in and for all life forms.  View all of my iNaturalist photo postings here. OR click on the insect name link in the comics to get to the iNaturalist post, and then click on the insect name at the top of the iNaturalist post, to learn more about it. 


Now for Sunday with coffee or any other day that you find a need for a tickle, here are the Insect Comics.

                       Insect Comic #20  Aug 9, 2022

Hold me tight, don’t let go. There'll be some love-making, heartbreaking, soul shaking*, but when I suggested we join the Mile High Club,  I expected there would be an airplane under my feet otherwise I would have packed a chute. Hold me tight, don't let go. 

   Bittacomorpha clavipes, known as the phantom crane fly (though this name can also apply to any member of Ptychopteridae), is a species of fly in the family Ptychopteridae. It is found in the eastern United States west to the Rocky Mountains. It flies upright with its legs spread apart. The female lays hundreds of eggs by dipping its abdomen in the water. ~Wikipedia 

*Don't Let Go lyrics by Jessee Stone


                     Insect Comic #19  Aug 8, 2022

 Where's the beef?

   “Where's the Beef” was a commercial catchphrase for Wendy's that came out in 1984 and was used to question other fast food companies for their lack of meat.          

   The larvae of the small, uncommon harvester butterfly, (Feniseca tarquinius) are the only strictly carnivorous butterfly caterpillars in the United States.  


                                                           Insect Comic #18  Aug 1, 2022

Wow, it is really hot 

and I have twenty-eight hundred 

more flowers to get to today. 


And everybody I meet is crabby. 


Yellow-banded Bumble Bee (Bombus terricola) with Goldenrod Crab spider


    It was at one time a common species but has declined in numbers since the late 1990s, likely due to urban development and parasite infection. It is a good pollinator of wildflowers and crops such as alfalfa, potatoes, raspberries, and cranberries. ~Wikipedia 


   Not long ago, the Yellow-banded Bumble Bee was among eastern North America’s most common bumble bee. Although absent from most of its range since 2000, recently Yellow-banded Bumble Bee has been found in northern parts of its range, including Vermont during VCE's statewide survey in 2012 and 2013.


   Although the Yellow-banded Bumble Bee was historically distributed throughout the Upper Midwest, Northeast, and Eastern Seaboard, recent range-wide studies have estimated that B. terricola has declined by ~50% (Williams and Osbourne 2009, Colla et al. 2012), and warrants “endangered” status under IUCN protocols (Williams and Osbourne 2009). Vermont Center for EcoStudies


Insect Comic #17  Aug 1, 2022

If I was limited to fishing with one fly, it would be the Brooks Blonde,

 but a redhead is a great backup. 

Variable Duskyface Fly (Melanostoma mellinum)


Insect Comic #16  Aug 1, 2022

Sure I look different, but I don't let my Keloids scar define my value, worth, or good looks. In fact, I think I look kinda hot.

Twice-stabbed Stink Bug (Cosmopepla lintneriana)


 Insect Comic #15  July 30, 2022

Monarch                                                                                                                    Viceroy


 3 Viceroys fly into a castle with their swords.

The Monarch sees them sitting at the milkweed dinner table and asks, "Why are you taking your swords in here with you?"

The Viceroys say "in case of mimics."

The Viceroys laugh, the Monarch laughs, the table laughs, they kill the table. 


               
In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, the mimic is a type of fictional monster. It is portrayed as being able to change its shape to disguise its body as an inanimate object, commonly a chest (or table).

Insect mimicry:  The shared adaptive advantage that harmful insects share by displaying similar colors/patterns/behaviors, harmless insects can use the same conspicuous coloration to avoid predators. Viceroys are an example of Müllerian co-mimicry - when two or more species evolve similar appearances when both toxicity and/or foul taste, so that a lesser toll is taken on each species by predators who are still learning to avoid that appearance. ~New Jersey Audubon 

 Viceroys can be detected by the thin black line that up-curves across the hind wing of the butterfly that Monarchs do not possess. Viceroys also tend to be smaller and a little brighter in color.  

This project is part of the International Monarch Monitoring Blitz. Our aim is to contribute a snapshot of the status of Monarch populations across Vermont each year during this critical time in their life cycle. We need your help to gather this data! Click on the link for details. 


  Insect Comic #14  July 28, 2022

When it comes to Zucchini, size matters.

Pruinose Squash Bee (Peponapis pruinosa)

 If you want zucchini, squash, and pumpkins, don’t squash my house.

The squash bee is a solitary bee that is a specialist pollinator: for their food and their offspring’s food they only use pollen and nectar from squash plants: pumpkins, summer squash, winter squash, butternut squash, zucchini, really most plants in the genus Cucurbita (with the exception of melons and cucumbers).

Squash bees are ground nesting solitary bees, meaning that the females mate with males, and then dig tunnels and chambers underground usually 6 to 18 inches below the surface. Squash bees typically dig their nest right under the squash plants that they love, and so the little growing squash bees are in your soil, under your squash plants [until the following summer]. So in terms of garden planning, it would be good to follow a squash bed one year with a no-till vegetable the next year, like kale, rather than carrots or potatoes. - A Wild Garden


Insect Comic #13  July 25, 2022 

National Moth Week, wear your Tussocks with pride. 

 White-marked Tussock Moth (Orgyia leucostigma)

National Moth Week is observed in the last full week of July. In 2021 the dates will be from July 17 to July 25. 

Vermont Moth Blitz 2022 (July 23-31)
Explore Vermont's astounding moth diversity! By participating in our annual Moth Blitz - https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/vermont-moth-blitz-2022, you will help the Vermont Moth Atlas develop a better understanding of the moths that call the Green Mountain State home. Over 2,200 moth species have been documented in Vermont with new species being found all the time. Who knows, maybe you will find one! We encourage everyone, from experts to amateur enthusiasts, to find, photograph, and share their moth discoveries with the Vermont Moth Blitz during National Moth Week (July 23th-31th). Can we beat last year's tally? Check it out at https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/vermont-moth-blitz-2021. The Vermont Moth Atlas is a project of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies' Vermont Atlas of Life.



Insect Comic #12  July 24, 2022 

My nose isn't big. I just happen to have a very small head. ~Jimmy Durante

Pruinose Squash Bee (Peponapis pruinosa)

   An important and original pollinator of squash and gourds is the squash bee, (Peponapis pruinosa). It is a ground-nesting, solitary native bee that exclusively gathers pollen from plants in the squash family (genus Cucurbita), including pumpkin and gourds.


Insect Comic #11  July 24, 2022 

Some days the whole world is out to get you.

(Non-Native) Western Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)


Native bees and other native pollinators also are under attack.  Native bees and other insect pollinators are beset by the same environmental challenges as other species, including habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation; non-native species and diseases; pollution, including pesticides; and climate change.


Insect Comic #10  July 23, 2022

Who is the Dodo that put harmful chemicals in my food and in the soil?  


Monarchs (Danaus plexippus) are now on the endangered list in N.A.    

LOSS OF HABITAT

   What is hurting the monarch on our end of its epic migration? Same old, same old: loss of habitat, pesticides, and death by auto collision. By loss of habitat, I mean the loss of the milkweed species, the only plants on which monarch caterpillars can develop, and the loss of fall blooming plants such as asters and goldenrods that provide the nectar fuel needed by migrating monarchs as they fly from Canada to just north of Mexico City. ~Homegrown National Park.

WHAT TO DO TO HELP MONARCHS

1.) Plant native milkweed patches.

2.) Encourage towns to reduce mowing along roadsides except for one mower width. (Avoid doing this on major-high speed highways as under these conditions insect mortality rate is high.)

3.) Farmers allow milkweed and pollinators strips. 



Insect Comic #9  July 21, 2022

 I'll do anything to get a little shade.
   Top: Genus Astata, bottom Id pending
                                             
                                           

Insect Comic #8  July 20, 2022

               Why do we stick out our tongues when we are concentrating?


Pruinose Squash Bee (Peponapis pruinosa)


Insect Comic #7  July 18, 2022 

Who needs Diapoles (old-fashioned rabbit ears)?  I can pick up all the channels I want with these antennae.          


  Insect Comic #6  July 16, 2022

                                                  Can't find the darn switch to turn the light on!

                                                                       Spongy Moth (Lymantria dispar)


Insect Comic #5

I don't get no respect. 

I am a “true bug” not just an insect. 

True bugs have a stylet (a mouth shaped like a straw) that they use to suck juices from plants. Bugs are a type of insect, which belong to the class Insecta, and they are characterized by three-part bodies, usually two pairs of wings, and three pairs of legs, (e.g., bees and mosquitoes). For example, although a bee is an insect, it is not a bug.


Insect Comic #4

Arachnida, by special invite to Insect Comics.

Both spiders and insects are invertebrates, but spiders are not insects.

Spiders are arachnids, along with scorpions, mites, harvesters, and ticks. All arachnids have eight legs and two main body parts (a cephalothorax (head and thorax) and an abdomen). No antennae. 

That's one small step for spider, one giant leap for spiderkind.  

Subtribe Dendryphantina


In contrast, insects have six legs and three main body parts (a head, a thorax, and an abdomen). Similar to insects, spiders have an open circulatory system (not closed veins like humans or mammals) and a breathing tube, called the trachea, that supplies the body with oxygen.

They also have eyes, antennae, and mouthparts. The entire body is protected by a tough outer covering called an exoskeleton.  The group to which they belong is called the Insecta." (From Bug Squad and USA Spiders)


Insect Comic #3

Olympics Standing High Jump Bronze Medalist

Bronze Jumping Spider (Eris militaris) 


Insect Comic #2

Whose idea was it to get a fifth-story apartment without an elevator or stairs?

 Subgenus Zadontomerus



Insect Comic #1 

The late rising worm (caterpillar) gets removed from the gene pool.


More Insect Comics coming soon. 

"...the world is connected, through similar sense organs and brains and experiences that may not reflect the external realities with absolute fidelity." Carl Sagan, Broca's Brain.

View what insect neighbors I am observing on our 1.3-acre yard in Jericho at https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=any&user_id=bugeyedbernie&verifiable=any

Watch naturalists, Sean, Monica, Kerry, and Vermont Master Naturalist, Alicia explore life in a Vermont vernal pool. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wgjtv-OvDPs&t=378s

Friday, April 22, 2022

Support for Vt Act H.626 neonicotinoid pesticide ban

  Dear Vermont Legislature Representatives and Senators, 

 
I am writing you in support of Vermont Act H.626, an act relating to the sale, use, or application of neonicotinoid pesticides.

According to the Vermont Fish and Wildlife department, between 60 to 80 percent of wild plants in our state are dependent on animals, mostly bees, for the 'ecosystem service' of pollination. Whole communities of flowering trees, shrubs, and herbs benefit from their activities—including blueberries, blackberries, and apples.

This topic is not just about our beloved dairy and honey industries, as important as those two industries, and livelihood are. They are the tip of the iceberg of what we will lose if we go past the tipping point in how many pollinators we lose either as an entire species or in volume. Many of our (275+) wild bee species appear to be declining due to a number of impacts including habitat loss, and pesticide/herbicide use.  

Our fascinating and diverse species of wild bees are critical to all of us.

Scientists appear to me to be indicating that neonicotinoids are harmful to more than the target insects, radiate out beyond the application zone, and stay in the pollen and nectar and tissue of plants. They are found in water and soil samples long after application. They are toxic to pollinators and other beneficial insects as well as aquatic invertebrates. They can remain in the environment for years after application. Being water-soluble they can leach into our *waterbodies.

Xerces reports that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with support from CDPR, recently released a draft ecological risk assessment for imidacloprid, which identified risks to aquatic ecosystems. Based on these findings, the EPA has now revised its aquatic life benchmarks downward.  Furthermore, EPA recently found that the other nitroguanidine neonicotinoids may pose similar risks to aquatic invertebrates as imidacloprid.

At a bare minimum, let's ensure there is strict guidance on (a) which corn and soybean pests neonicotinoid seed treatments may be used for, (b) when scouting should occur to inform future decisions on the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments, and (c) how to scout for these early season pests. In other words, if we cannot find the will to stop using neonicotinoids, let's at least be sure we minimize their use as the last resort only (risky) tool. 

In connection with restricting neonicotinoids, the VT Legislature can fund more research and development of sustainable farming methods for productivity and support abundant biodiversity.  

Let’s find a safer path for our Vermont farmers to succeed in the long term without squandering whatever healthy soil, bacteria, and insects that we have left. I believe that the diversity and health of beneficial insects and therefore our lives depend on our stewardship of the land and all life on it.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Vermont Wild Bees; Will We Heed Their Call?

 

This Tricolored bumblebee (Bombus ternarius) seems to be reaching out to us.        Will we heed the call?


With over 300 Vermont species of wild bees, perhaps it is time to name a VT State bee. Students, what do you say?


Vermont designated the honeybee as the official state insect in 1978. With no Vermont wild species represented, might we request the Legislature to create a State Bee designation?


Perhaps a Vermont wild bee species might be chosen to be the official VT State Bee. There are over 300 Vermont wild bee species to choose from. 


With over three hundred species of bees in Vermont potentially on the ballot, which would you vote for?



Why is this important? 
  • Encourages us to get to know our wild, native bees as well as to understand their importance to our well-being and what we can do to help them survive if not thrive. To know them is to love them leads to protecting the bees and their habitat. (Educate ourselves about the many different species of wild bees in Vermont, their different behaviors (some social some solitary), their different accommodation needs, varying feeding sources.) 
  • Knowledge of bees can help remove the fearful stigma that we sometimes erroneously attribute to them. 
  • With an understanding of the many species of bees, comes appreciation, and even admiration. Observing their lifestyles and behaviors as well as their physical attributes can astound and amaze us. Though all bees have much in common, there are many adaptations amongst each species, making them each uniquely interesting and of specific value.
  • Wild bees perform the majority of all pollination on Vermont farms, whether or not managed honey bees* are present,” said Leif Richardson, an ecologist with UVM’s Gund Institute for Environment and Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources. “As an ecosystem service, pollination is worth millions annually. But we don’t know how the loss of native bee species will affect our food supply or overall environmental health.” UVM Gund Institute
  • Between 60 to 80 percent of wild plants in our state are dependent on animals, mostly bees, for the 'ecosystem service' of pollination. Whole communities of flowering trees, shrubs, and herbs benefit from their activities—including blueberries, blackberries, and apples. VTF&W
  • VT pollinators are in peril. Pollinators are facing the loss of their habitat, particularly wildflowers, to single-crop farming and development. They also face disease epidemics brought into the state by nonnative species. And pesticides, particularly neonicotinoids, are killing pollinators even though they aren't the insects being targeted. VTF&W
*The Western Honey Bee or European Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) is a domesticated bee from Eurasia. Disclaimer, I, like many of us like honey and have high respect for those individuals in Vermont that manage the hives of honeybees. 

*Barnard Central School students championed the honey bee (Apis melifera) at legislative hearings, arguing that it made sense to honor an insect that produces honey, a natural sweetener, similar to Vermont's beloved maple syrup. Governor Richard Snelling signed the bill that designated the honey bee as Vermont's state insect in 1978. ThoughtCo

* Nineteen other states have the honeybee as a state insect. Some states have more than one state insect. Alabama has a state insect, a state agricultural insect, and a state butterfly. Wikipedia   The VT state butterfly is the Monarch. 


What do we know about our Bees in VT?
Where they live, how they spend the winter, what they eat, habitat preferences. 
Info. from The Bees in Your Backyard by Joseph Wison & Olivia Carrill, & the National Wildlife Federation unless otherwise noted.

Bees' bodies are divided into three parts; head, two antennae, a thorax with six legs, and an abdomen. They have branched hairs and two pairs of wings, a fore and a hind wing on each side. Six legs consist of the foreleg, mid-leg, hind leg on each side. Below the antennae are compound eyes, then cheeks, (malar space), mandibles, tongue, a clypeus - broad plate at the front of the insects head (think the nose area); followed by the thorax, followed by abdomen that is numbered (for identification purposes) with terga/"T", one through six (seven for males). View photos with bee body parts named here

Five eyes: Bees have two types of eyes, simple (ocelli) and compound. Three simple (each has just one lens) near the back of the head, are used for orientation. The two compound eyes, one on either side of the head are each comprised of thousands of individual lenses.  

Bees can be separated into two groups, long tongue and short tongue (proboscides) which in most cases relates to which flowers (and which flower shapes) they can and do feed from and pollinate.


Pollination

It might take a hive of (many thousands) honeybees, yet only about 250 female blue orchard bees (Osmia lignaria) to pollinate an acre of apples. USDA. Bumble bees can pollinate more flowers per bee than honey bees. Bumblebees Behaviour and Ecology; Prof. Dave Goulson; citing Poulson 1973; Free 1993)."  

"Bees are the most important group of pollinators. With the exception of a few species of wasps, only bees deliberately gather pollen to bring back to their nests for their offspring. Bees also exhibit a behavior called flower constancy, meaning that they repeatedly visit one particular plant species on any given foraging trip." Xerces Society

To aid in the gathering of pollen (for their young), bees are usually hairy and the pollen sticks to their hair which the bee moves to the back of their body onto their legs or belly (scopa. - pollen-collecting hairs or apparatus). Bumble bees have a pollen basket (corbiculum) on their hind legs. Some bee mothers also carry nectar in their crops. 

Defense

Though all female bees can sting, they only do so when threatened. Honey bees are more likely to sting than wild (Solitary native bees). The stingers of some bees are too small to penetrate our skin. 
 
General Life Cycle

Egg to larva to pupa to adult. Adults: Most male bees emerge from the nest before females waiting for the females to emerge (for mating). Bee mothers decide whether each egg they lay will be a male or a female bee (releasing stored sperm onto the egg results in a female bee, an egg only results in a male bee). Eggs are placed in individual cells along with pollen and nectar for the larva to eat when they hatch. Most bee species eggs hatch after a few days after being laid. Next, the bee enters its larval or grub stage, molting five times getting bigger each time. The next stage is the pupa, where they look like an adult but without wings. A short time later they emerge as fully developed adults. 

"Queen bumble bees can live for a year and workers for a month. Solitary bees also live for about a year, with the majority of that time spent developing in their nesting chamber where they hatch, pupate, and often overwinter. Their adult lives, during which they are active, last approximately three to eight weeks. Females tend to live a bit longer, as they need to build a nest and lay eggs." NWF

Where do bees live?

Seventy percent of bees nest in holes in the ground. Others use preexisting holes in branches, plant stems, abandoned rodent or beetle burrows, crevices in rocks, tree stumps, and small holes in other materials like bricks. Some use materials like mud to partition and separate the egg cells. They usually choose sunny south or east-facing area. 

However, some species do not build nests at all. These “cuckoo bees" will lay their eggs in nests built by other species. Cuckoo bees will sometimes kill the host species’ larvae to ensure their own eggs will have enough food to grow to adulthood. National Wildlife Federation


"Most native bee species will spend the winter in the nests that their mothers provisioned (a notable exception is the cuckoo bee). In fact, just like bears, many pollinators hibernate through the winter—and they may need a little help to survive until spring." Xerces Society

Bee Sociality

Honey bees and bumble bees are highly social. They have queens and workers that divide up the work. Most N.A. bees are solitary where each mother bee builds the nest, gathers food for her offspring, and lays the eggs. Some solitary bees have cooperative behaviors while remaining solitary otherwise. 

What do bees eat? 

Bees, unlike wasps from which they evolved, feed exclusively on sugary nectar and protein-rich pollen from flowering plants. Adult bees eat a lot of nectar and a little pollen; bee larvae eat a lot of pollen with a little nectar. 

"Some bees are generalists and will use pollen from a wide variety of flowering plants. Bumble bees are generalists as they depend upon a succession of plants flowering from early spring when the queen emerges to late summer – early fall when the colony dies. Other bees have some degree of specialization in foraging; they resort to using pollen from only one or two families of flowering plants. Fortunately, plant reproduction has redundancy in floral visitation already built-in. Each flowering plant species usually has a small guild of bees and other pollinators which coevolved with them to ensure their pollination. Typically, bees collect nectar from a wider range of blossoms than they visit for pollen."  USDA Forest Service


Pollen Specialist Bees

According to Jarrod Fowler and Sam Droege (2020) "Roughly 25% of the ~770 species of bees native to the Eastern United States are pollen specialists. Pollen specialist bees coevolved a continuum of generic and specific associations with flowering host plants or pollenizers (Cane & Sipes 2006; Hurd et al. 1980; Linsley & MacSwain 1958; Robertson 1925; Wright 2018). 

Pollen specialist associations can mutually benefit both bees and flowers from improved foraging effectiveness and efficiency, pollen digestibility, and pollination rates, but foraging restrictions may create greater susceptibility to harm from pollination or pollenization shortages due to habitat degradation or loss, pesticides, invasive species, and climate change (Minckley et al. 1994; Packer et al. 2005; Rafferty et al. 2015). 

Therefore, contemporary anthropogenic threats in the Eastern United States potentially imperil native pollen specialist bee species and their indigenous host plants with population declines and extinctions through loss of species diversity."  Pollen Specialist Bees of the Eastern United States, Fowler & Droege. Click on the hotlink to see a list of specialist bees and the host plant(s) they utilize.

Plant it and they will come. If we plant the species of native plants that a particular specialist bee utilizes we may have the opportunity to observe a specialist (sometimes common or even rare) specialist bee. 

Identifying Bees 
Vermont Wild Bee Guide 

There are a number of ways to help you identify a bee. First, take a photo. Rule out, look-alikes. Note the general body characteristics, abdomen, face, and wing detail. Pick the group that the bee seems closest to from this list. Click on hotlinks for more details.
 
  • "Hairy Bees This group includes the two most familiar genera - bumble bees and honeybees, plus several similar genera. 
  • Little Black Bees Nearly half the bee species in Vermont are small and dark. Bees in this group could easily be mistaken for gnats, small flies, or wasps. 
  • Black and Yelllow Bees  A few genera of related bees are boldly patterned with yellow and black. The two most common species in this group are both non-native and found in urban gardens. 
  • Green Bees These bright green bees are distinctive as a group. Included are four genera with a total of seven species, several of which are frequently encountered. 
  • Bluish Bees Though not as bright as the green bees, a small number of bees in Vermont have a distinct blue tinge. This group includes two frequently encountered genera, with most species being relatively small. 
  • Colorful Bees This group includes a wide range of shapes and sizes. All are cleptoparasitic genera that usurp the nests of other bees (think cowbirds). Most species either have large areas of red and yellow or have very short white hairs forming distinct bands or spots."  

The Bees in Your Backyard (North American Bees) book separates bees by the following. Bees that are
  • Yellow and Black
  • Metallic Green or Blue
  • Black Thorax (back) Red Abdomen (Belly)
  • Long Antennae
  • Black with Bright White Stripes of Hair on the Abdomen
  • Completely Red
  • Triangular or Pointy Abdomen
  • Yellow or White Stripes on the Abdomen Itself (not hair bands)
  • Extremely Large (bigger than the top of the thumb)
  • Gnat-Sized
  • Dark Wings
  • Really Fuzzy
  • Small, Shiny, and Black


Which bees can we expect to see in Vermont?
  Let's start with Bumble Bees found in Vermont.

According to the Vermont Center for EcoStudies Atlas of Vermont, there are seventeen bumble bee species that have been recorded in Vermont. The information below is from the VCE website. Click on the common name hotlinks to view the VCE page listing the plants each bee feeds from, where they nest, time of the year when they are flying about, and more information about the bee species selected.
  • Rusty-patched Bumble Bee (Bombus affinis), Endangered and Extirpated in VT. Last observed in Vermont in 1999. "Although the exact cause of this crash is uncertain, introduced parasites from imported colonies and pesticide use appear to be two major culprits. Even small amounts [of pesticides] used on lawns and in gardens can negatively impact entire colonies." iNaturalist postings.
  • Yellow Bumble Bee also known as Great Northern Bumble Bee (Bombus fervidus) Uncommon in VT, and possibly on the decline. Usually found in open fields and meadows. iNaturalist postings
  • Brown-belted Bumble Bee (Bombus griseocollis) Fairly common in VT. Can be found in many habitats including meadows, urban gardens, and agricultural settings. This bumble bee has a short season with queens emerging in May. Colonies sometimes persist into September, but often die by August. iNaturalist postings
  • American Bumble Bee (Bombus pensylbanicus) Once one of the most common Bumble Bee species in the east, but is now uncommon and in decline. The last known record for this species in Vermont was in 2000.  
  • Confusing Bumble Bee (Bombus perplexus) While this species has shown a slight decline in Vermont, its populations appear stable in other parts of its range. 
  • Sanderson's Bumble Bee (Bombus sandersoni) While there is no evidence of decline for this species, B. sandersoni is very difficult to identify (often confused with B. vagans), uncommon in Vermont, and little is known about its ecology. iNaturalist postings
  • Tricolored Bumble Bee (Bombus ternarius) This is one of the most common and widespread bumble bee species in Vermont.  B. ternarius is often found in urban settings and gardens and is one of the few species of bumble bee that is easy to identify. iNaturalist postings
  • Yellow-banded Bumble Bee (Bombus terricola) Once common and found throughout the northeast and south, into Georgia, B. terricola populations have experienced a dramatic decline over the past 15 years, and this species was recently listed as Threatened in Vermont. iNaturalist postings
  • Half-black Bumble Bee (Bombus vagans) B. vagans is by far the most common bumble bee in Vermont. This species is found in several different habitats including meadows, roadsides, urban gardens, and it is one of the few species that will readily forage in shaded areas within forests. iNaturalist postings
  • Ashton's Bumble Bee (Bombus ashtoni) B. ashtoni is a rare bumble bee and its populations are declining. It is a social parasite and lays its eggs in host colonies to be raised by that species’ workers. As its host species, B. affinis and B. terricola, have declined, so has this parasitic species. This species has not been found in Vermont for over 15 years (1999) and is thought to be extirpated from the state. 
  • Fernald's Bumble Bee (Bombus fernaldae) B. fernaldae is an uncommon species. Though its hosts are not rare in Vermont, there are few records. 

  • Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xlocopa virginica) This large, shiny bee is often mistaken for a bumble bee, but is a member of an entirely different genus. Common and widespread. Can be over an inch long. iNaturalist postings



Read about my close-up and personal meet-up with a bumble bee at Touching Life: How I came to pet a bumble bee.

Read more about Bumble Bees at What Bumble Bees Need by Judy Sefchick, Wildlife biologist, Missisquoi NWR


The Bees in your Backyard:
Bees recorded* in Jericho, VT 
* ~46 of ~313 known to be recorded in Vermont. 
* not all native to VT

Link to V.A.L. description -  Link to iNaturalist post Relative abundance






















Peponapis pruinosa - Pruinose Squash Bee - Common











Apis mellifera - Western Honey Bee - Cultivated











Osmia lignaria - Blue Orchard Bee - Fairly Common


Sphecodes ranunculi - Buttercup Cuckoo Sweat Bee - 


Read about recent first in Vermont bee observations at New Bees Discovered in Vermont with Worldwide  Teamwork


***Vermont Bee Species - View the list of 300+ Vermont bee species with information on each. 



Visit these links to learn more.

  • ***PBS Video “ My Garden of A Thousand Beesfilmed in Bristol, England. If you thought bees behave only by instinct think again. The filming is incredible. See bees like you never have before - an up-close and intimate look at their behaviors and everyday lives. 
  • The Bees in Your Backyard - A Guide to North America's Bees by Joseph Wilson & Olivis Carril
  • Bumble Bees of North America (book) by Paul Williams, Robbin Thorp, Leif Richardson, & Sheila Colla. 

Guest posts about Vermont wild bees from students and others are welcome.

Bernie
Observing life in nature.
Connecting Vermont's historic habitat and wildlife, with our community.

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