Tag Archives: Bees and Wasps

Bees on coffee flowers

A bee forages on coffee flowers in Hawaii
A coffee plant in flower in Hawaii

A couple of years ago, a hedge made up of several small coffee plants was planted along the edge of the old homestead. The plants have had mixed success thanks to uncooperative weather and a surfeit of chickens and pigs in the neighborhood.

However, several of the plants have thrived and this year, for the first time, produced blooms. When I noticed them, I immediately walked over and stuck my head down there to see if they had any scent. I didn’t notice much, but what I did notice was a loud buzzing noise and I realized that, scented or not, the bees were having a field day.

So I withdrew my head and took these photos. I’m glad I did because the flowers were short-lived and a couple of days later they were gone.

A bee forages on coffee flowers in Hawaii

Emerald Cockroach Wasp

An Emerald Cockroach Wasp in Hawaii

I spotted this shiny creature on the trunk of a mango tree, but wasn’t sure what it was. So I searched online using the striking details – iridescent green, red on legs, Hawaii – and the first result was a post on whatsthatbug.com. It was headlined, ‘Emerald Cockroach Wasp from Hawaii turns Roaches into Zombies!!!’ (link here). That got my attention! Within that posting was a link to a longer post with more details (here).

In brief, the female Emerald Cockroach Wasp (Ampulex compressa) stings a cockroach to temporarily disable its front legs. It does this to buy time to deliver a second sting to a precise spot in the cockroach’s brain that controls the roach’s escape reflex. The roach isn’t paralyzed, but it just stays where it is, that is until the wasp takes it by the antenna and leads its zombie prey back to her burrow. There she lays an egg on the roach, before walling up the burrow’s entrance. Back inside, the roach just waits while the egg hatches and the larva eats its way inside the roach and devours the roach’s organs. Four weeks later, a new wasp emerges from the roach and the burrow.

I was astonished to learn about this, in particular how, for the second sting, the wasp locates the exact spot in the roach’s brain using sensors on the stinger.

The source of the whatsthatbug.com description comes from Carl Zimmer who has a great article here. More information about this remarkable wasp can be found here, here, and here. And finally, a must see video of the wasp in action, including leading the cockroach to its lair, can be seen here.

It’s bright, it’s white, it’s Sunday Stills

Surf rushes ashore at Upolu, Hawaii
A cattle egret waits in a fountain
The turbines of Hawi wind farm with Mauna Kea in the background

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘White.’ See more responses here.

In the top photo, frothy surf barrels ashore at Upolu in North Kohala. Below that, a cattle egret surveys the scene in the middle of a water fountain. The third photo shows turbines at Hawi Wind Farm against a backdrop of snowy Mauna Kea. And the bottom photo features a bee collecting on a Maiapilo flower.

A bee forages on a Maiapilo flower

Sonoran Carpenter Bee

A Sonoran Carpenter Bee clambers through agave attenuata flowers
A Sonoran Carpenter Bee clambers through agave attenuata flowers

I saw this female Sonoran Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa sonorina) in an Agave Attenuata and at first thought she was dead. But when I went out to look, she moved a bit, then burrowed deeper into the plants and disappeared from sight. I saw her three days in a row on the same plant and then she must have moved on. I’m not sure exactly what she was doing there. She didn’t appear to be collecting pollen but might have been doing so, albeit very slowly!

Alright, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.

The current Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Close ups and Macros.’ See more responses here. Here’s a selection of some little creatures up close and personal.