Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A bee curls up in a flower for the night, and a long-nosed bug keeps him company…

As I was walking the Little Miami Trail the other evening, a small stand of one of my favorite spring flowers, Appendaged Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum appendiculatum), caught my eye. Its papery and delicate petals of lavender were lit just right in the early evening sun, so I stopped to snap a few photos. As I trained my camera lens on the blossom, I noticed two types of bugs. I could see one was a bee curled up behind the stamens, seemingly tucked in for the night, and one was a strange-looking bug with a very long nose, scurrying around checking out every part of the flower. On closer inspection, I noticed his antenna seemed to be positioned half-way down his “nose,” which added to his cool factor. After going home and checking in my insect field guide, I learned the long-nosed beetle was some sort of snout beetle (weevil) in the family Curculionidae, and the “nose” was actually an extended part of the head that ended in a mouthpart aimed at letting the weevil bore into fruit, cotton bolls, wheat, and other vegetation.


A bee is curled up in an Appendaged Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum appendiculatum) blossom...and just above the flower, a tiny weevil is scoping out the area.


This clump of Appendaged Waterleaf was in the shadows behind the first patch I saw. I noticed the same type of bee was hanging out in the blossom, but another species of weevil was crawling around on the blossom. It was larger and darker than the little yellow-striped weevil I had just seen on the first blossom.


The warm evening sun highlighted this bee as he readied himself for the night. Male bees often do not return to the hive in the evening, spending the night in the protection of a flower blossom instead.


...let's zoom in on this furry little beast (although, if he is a male drone, he's not much of a beast because drones don't have stingers!). I love those little balls of pollen sticking to his legs...


...up pops Mr. Weevil! His super long "nose" or snout is called a rostrum (Latin for beak) and is really a downward curved extension of the head that ends in saw-like mouthparts that can bore into nuts, fruit, plants, etc. Notice how his antenna are located halfway down the rostrum (strange and cool...).


...not the greatest photo, but it does show his pattern and coloration. He's black with yellow or yellowish-green stripes and tiny dots and dents. According to my National Audubon Society's "Field Guid to Insects & Spiders," pg 612, snout beetles and weevils (family Curculionidae) are "hard-bodied beetles" that make up the largest family of insects, coming in at 40,000 species worldwide and 2,500 species in North America (now I don't feel so badly not know what species this guy is).


Appendage Waterleaf blossoms are busy places in the evening!
Most weevils are plant specific, e.g., "Acorn Weevils" feed on acorns and lay their eggs inside an acorn. The infamous "Boll Weevil" feeds on cotton bolls and lays eggs in the boll, destroying the crop.

Here is a video from National Geographic that shows an Acorn Weevil busy at work:

28 comments:

Carole M. said...

I always enjoy viewing your photography from the field. Beautifully composed and interesting commentary. These are no exception, the flowers delightful and the insects equally so

TexWisGirl said...

wow! your bee macros are beautiful! and that mr. weevil w/ his snout is so darn cute! :) nice post, kelly!

holdingmoments said...

Fascinating little thing, that 'big nose' beetle. lol
And the bee looks so comfy tucked up in that flower. Something I've never seen before.

Carol Mattingly said...

He's definitely a cutey Kelly.

KAT said...

very interesting post my friend ! Ill be on the lookout for those guys now too. The Nat Geo video is wonderful too. I love watching stuff like that. AAahhh the circle of life

- KAT -

Roy said...

Cool! I haven't started on bug shots yet this season. Good shots!

Guy said...

Hi Kelly

This post is a wonder and a real inspiration for me. As normal your notes really enchance the photos.
And the photos themselves are spectacular I cannot pick a favorite there are so many beautiful closeups.

Wow.

Guy

Montanagirl said...

How interesting! I always learn so much from your blog. That video was very informative. Thanks for sharing!

Marco Alpha said...

Hello Kelly,
Very good shots!! Wonderful to see the bee between the stamens of the flower. The colors are great in your shots.

Much greetings,
Marco

Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Bellas imágenes llenas de estética y plasticidad... Congrat.. Saludos..

dAwN said...

Super shots Kelly! See you soon!

Mary Ann Gieszelmann said...

Amazing pictures and information, Kelly! I had never heard of a bee spending the night anywhere except in the hive. But lately I've been learning about native plants and insects here in California--and found out that around here are hundreds of bee species that are not honeybees at all. (In fact, honeybees were imported from Europe.) So other varieties of bees have completely different habits and homes from the beehives we usually think about.

Rick said...

Really nice, Kelly. I really like shots 3&4 and I learned something new from your post. Did not realize that male bees did not return to the hive at night. Heck, I could think of worse places to sleep.

Gillian Olson said...

Those macros of the bugs and bees are superb. I did not know that sometimes the male bees curled up in flowers for the night.

Appalachian Lady said...

We have over 400 native bee species in Virginia. I like looking at them too in the flowers but I never could get such great photos. Great series of photos and commentary.

Cicero Sings said...

Always an interesting post. Loved the bee nested up in the flower and the video at the end was cute and interesting.

sarah said...

Like several others, I didn't know that the males spend the night in flowers! I have primarily native plants and will start looking!
As always, thank you for the stunning photos and knowledge you share.
Sarah

Elaine said...

I love these shots, especially the closeup of the been nestled down for the night! Amazing the variety there is in the insect world.

Dan Huber said...

very neat observations and fantastic shots Kelly

MjB said...

It reminds me of the Victorian era illustrations of wee fairies hanging around in English gardens and the like. Or Lewis Carroll.

Take care,
---Mike

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

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http://asthecrackerheadcrumbles.blogspot.com/2012/04/sites-to-see_20.html

eileeninmd said...

Wow! Gorgeous images and captures, Kelly!

Chris said...

The third and the fourth pictures are wonderful Kelly. This is a beautiful post Kelly...

Tammie Lee said...

it must be hard getting a nights sleep with weevils popping in!
but i must say, sleeping in a flower's petals sounds magical to me.

such wonderful images and sights to see, thank you.

Wind Dance said...

Absolutely beautiful photos. Your blog is a true delight.

Banjo52 said...

Great photos and fascinating info, as usual. That video is really something. If there's other life out there, is it as complex as ours? Or is ours not very complex--just eat and be eaten.

Linda said...

Beautiful shots....very interesting looking beetle. Thanks for sharing...

Kelly said...

...thanks, everyone! I loved the references to fairies and Lewis Carroll. I was definitely thinking along those lines when I saw this fellow curled up safe and sound for the night, and the mug on the weevil. I'm so glad I photographed this fellow. I love learning about all the different insects out there...