Celebrating Bumblebees (Family Apidae)

As a group, Bumblebees are northern bees, tough enough to survive north of the Arctic Circle. They can thermoregulate;—producing heat by “shivering” their flight muscles without beating their wings, and retaining it via their thick, insulating hairs. They need an internal temperature of 86 degrees before they can fly.

Recent Bug Adventures

The BugLady has been out with her camera, walking non-aerobically and peering into plants. The “peering” has resulted in some interesting (if blurred) sightings (her macro lens is getting a bit cranky). Amazing things have been happening on milkweed, probably spurred by a banner crop of aphids on the leaves.

Sphecodes Sweat Bee (Family Halictidae)

Sphecodes bees are parasitic solitary bees in the large, but mostly-not-parasitic. Sphecodes bees are sometimes called cuckoo bees. Cuckoo bees are kleptoparasites (which may also be spelled with a “c”). Like their avian namesakes, they deposit their eggs in someone else’s nest—in the case of CBs, in the nests of fellow-Halictids.

The 12 Bugs of Christmas

In lieu of the usual bug biography, the BugLady presents The Twelve Bugs of Christmas—a tribute to a dozen insects (a Baker’s Dozen, really) that were photographed this year but not featured in a BOTW. Let the singing commence.

Bug Mysteries

The BugLady takes lots of pictures as she moseys around—flowers, landscapes, a surprising number of people, and, of course, all manner of bugs. Bug pictures may stall in the BugLady’s X–Files, awaiting identification—some for a long time. Here is a selection from the X–Files. In some cases the BugLady knows part of the story; in others, even less.

Pussy Willow Pollinators

People get excited when pussy willows whisper the spring. The BugLady thinks it’s more fun to skulk among the pussy willows when they are actually blooming (the gray, fuzzy “bud” is the future female catkin), ogling the diversity of insects that come to visit. Willows are dioecious (separate house), bearing their male and female flowers on different plants

Mullein Watching

The BugLady has always enjoyed mullein plants (Verbascum thapsus). Oh, she knows that they’re sun-slurping aliens whose mission is to blanket the earth at the expense of native vegetation, but they produce cheery yellow flowers, and they stick out of grassy fields like skinny saguaro cacti.


“True” Bees have, somewhere on their body (particularly on the thorax), hairs that are branched or feathery, not simple, and the top of the first segment of their thorax looks kind of like a collar. Bees are pollen-eaters, so most species also have some mechanism for collecting it. Honey bees and bumble bees are easily recognized, but distinguishing between the different tribes and families of bees can be sticky.

Eastern Carpenter Bee (Family Apidae)

Eastern Carpenter Bees are the most common carpenter bee species this side of the Mississippi, where they’re found in forests, grasslands, parks and gardens. There they fed on pollen and nectar from a wide variety of flatish flowers and as a result are considered valuable native pollinators in a world where pollinator populations are shrinking. When disturbed fly up and hover in the air, bobbing back and forth, staring at the intruder.

Goldenrod Watch

The BugLady’s advice for the day is: Find yourselves a big clump of goldenrod and start looking. Bring your camera. Bring a lawn chair. What will you see?