Sunday, March 18, 2007

More dashes than dots, Megachile and her cuckoos

As I commented last time, the leafcutters, Megachile chrysopyga, are swarming to the Croweas. There isn't much competition I admit, not much else flowering, but it is a joy to see a plant that only attracts native bees. Barely a feral to be seen. It's the nectar they're after, not much pollen gathering going on.

has an unusual habit of cocking its tail up when it lands (kind of puts me in mind of a kookaburra), and the drapes always match the curtains - but there are shades of orange, from pale to vibrant, as you can see.

This smaller flowered Crowea cultivar below is not so attractive to Megachile but I spotted (no pun intended) an unusual bee frequenting it, with very crisp, smart stripes on the abdomen, and tiny spots spangled across the thorax.
I asssumed it was another Megachile sp. it is the right size and shape, but on looking at the pics you can see it has no scopa (pollen baskets) on the legs, and in fact is quite badly equipped for the pollen game altogether.

I think we have another cuckoo, probably Thyreus again, this time a kleptoparasite of Megachile rather than Amegilla.
I'll do the ask at the museum, and see if I can get
a confirmation.

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