Readers’ wildlife photos

September 17, 2015 • 8:00 am

We’ll have a special truncated edition of Readers’ Wildlife today as there will shortly be a Spot the Chimpunk picture. But we have four lovely pictures of bees from reader Mark Sturtevant; this is the first of two batches.

I now have a hefty number of what I hope are interesting pictures of insects and other arthropods. This latest installment has a theme, which is bees.

There are several different families of bees. Most bees are quite hairy, and their hairs are of course used to gather and carry pollen. Another character of most bees is that the hind leg has an enlarged 1st tarsal (foot) segment. This is especially true of some of the social bees like this honeybee (Apis mellifera). Here, what looks like a whole leg segment at the end of the hind leg is really the 1st segment of the foot. I bring these points up for a reason, as we will learn soon. All of the following bees belong to solitary species. Most bees are solitary, and solitary bees are critical plant pollinators that deserve a lot more appreciation.


I am not great at identifying all kinds of bees, but I think this one is a male long-horned bee (Svastra obliqua?), given its wonderfully long antennae. This is one of my favorite pictures that I have taken this summer.


This bee is similar to the previous, and is either a female long-horn bee (they have shorter antennae) or it is a digger bee (perhaps genus Habropoda). It looks like it got stuck in a bag of Cheetos.


We had swarms of tiny halictid bees in our garden. There are several genera of these green ‘sweat bees’, and so I do not know the species that we have around here. I had a lot of fun taking pictures of these little beauties in the yard, but they were also challenging due to their small size and also for their speed since they would usually zip from flower to flower.


Finally, and just for fun, we have some urban wildlife, from a tw**t by “x” via Matthew Cobb:

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 6.04.27 AM

I wonder if it had a cheesesteak before it found a smoke. (I also suspect someone put the smoke into its claw, since the cigarette is lit.)

35 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. The ocelli are very clear there – nice pictures. Some insects are super speedy & very hard to get in focus, especially the very small ones.

    I see horseshoe crabs have secondary eyes – do regular crabs?

  2. I’m delighted to see the photos of someone who likes bees. But can someone provide a picture of Dasypoda hirtipes, the female of which is, to my mind, the most beautiful bee in the world, whether social or solitary – though this species are interesting also because they are neither entirely solitary nor entirely social – the females each make their own holes, and provide for their own children, but they form colonies, which is to say that a number of females dig holes in the same small area, generally in sandy soil (at least in England, where I, as a boy of 13 or 14, found a colony – it was then the furthest north they had ever been found in England). The males lolled around in nearby soft and sweet-smelling thistles waiting for some attractive female to come by. I longed to be one of them.

        1. The orchid bee is certainly stunning, but it’s the shaggy red legs of D. hirtipes that I find so attractive!(One day I shall confess all…) Thank you both very much for finding photos. And I must thank Mark also for his wonderful photos, particularly of the long-horned bee in the blue sage flower.

  3. Well, of course, the cigarette is lit. Not much point in having a cigarette that isn’t. (And let’s not forget which sign of the Zodiac the crab represents….)

  4. That crab cracks me up! I am trying to come up with something witty, like it being a wise cracking crab-on-the-street kind of crab who takes no guff but is smoooooth with the lady crabs.

  5. Very beecoming of Mark!

    As most people I feel sympathy for the busy bee, only broken once by my first curse when I found out I am not allergic to arthropods.

    [A bee had crawled up between my leg and my pants when I looked at some pretty flowers as a very young child.

    It acted predictably when it got squeezed, and so did I. As Jerry likely would comment, obviously there is no bee will.]

    1. “A bee had crawled up between my leg and my pants when I looked at some pretty flowers as a very young child.”


      I was cruising along in my Austin A35 one fine day when a very large wasp(?) hit the frame of the open window with a whack, bounced onto the seat and disappeared up the leg of my shorts*. The old A35 did 60-to-0 in world record time, I leapt out and did a panic-stricken impromptu haka in the road till the thing fell out again.

      Curious that I still remember the incident. Makes me wonder what else is lurking in there.**


      (* That’s English ‘shorts’, not underpants! Can’t remember the American name for them.)
      (** Between my ears, I mean.)

  6. Wow, what a treat, Mark! Amazing shots considering they’re in situ! I mean, they’d be amazing no matter what, but are especially so considering the subject is tiny, mobile, and going about its business.

    I’d have great trouble picking a favorite, but the long-horned bee is indeed exquisite! Is that a lobelia it’s so snugly wrapped around?

    Also, did the rest-of-the-story regarding the enlarged tarsal segment not make the edit? That’s a very interesting trait to know about, BTW.

    1. I had sent Jerry an overly long post, and he, quite rightly, is dividing it up. The significance of bringing up the enlarged tarsal segment is will be explained in a kind of ‘plot twist’.

      1. Oh, hey, I love a cliff-hanger! 😀

        BTW, you may be interested in this gallery of bee shots my son took this summer. He’s been working with a group studying bee diversity in Oregon clearcuts.

        These were all collected specimens–note insect pins!–and in various degrees of rough shape, having been captured with some sort of sticky trap. Still a lot of their beauty–not to mention diversity–shines through.

        1. This is interesting. I think the 1st one might be a ‘carder bee’ and the 5th one is a kind of cuckoo bee. This will be ironic, as we will see later.

  7. I love the iridescent emerald green exoskeletons of some insects. That being said, the halictid bee is my favorite. Though I’m with you aesthetically speaking, the male long-horned bee is a beautiful photo. Great job!

    You said the hairs are for capturing/holding pollen, do they also serve to respond to environmental stimuli?

    That is one Kool crustacean.

    1. I expect that they have hairs for touch receptors, but I do not know if every hair serves that purpose.
      Some bees have interesting specializations for hive life. For example, our honey bee up there has extra extra big basal tarsal segments with neatly arranged hair rows for raking up more pollen. They have this little notch between that segment and the tibia for ‘pressing’ the pollen. I might be able to see that if you double click on the picture.

  8. Out of idle curiosity, I’ll ask a question –

    “Most bees are solitary”
    – is this numerically, or by number of species?

    (That is, if you took a census, would colony bees outnumber solitary bees?)


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