Author Topic: Leucospis affinis  (Read 196 times)

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Offline The15thMember

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Leucospis affinis
« on: June 25, 2022, 06:43:30 pm »
I saw something totally crazy amazing yesterday.  I went to check on my mason bee observation hive, and as I walked up I startled two insects of some sort that were investigating the tubes.  I stood and waited and sure enough they returned, and when I saw them, I was pretty sure at once they were some sort of parasitic wasp here to investigate the nests.  They were black and yellow, very smooth with no hairs, and they had these strangely rounded abdomens.  One was larger than the other, so I wasn't sure one of them wasn't a male at first, but further inspection showed they both had ovipositors (egg-laying structures), and on their backs no less!  I was curious what they'd do to try and access the mason nest, so I stood and watched them for a while.  They sniffed all around with their antennae, in the tubes as far as they could walk, on the back, on the roof, even on the glass when I had the observation door open.  The smaller one particularly seemed more interested in an old leafcutter nest from last year that didn't hatch for some reason.  She sniffed all around the entrance and then stood their pumping her abdomen up and down.  Then, to my extreme surprise, she ratcheted open her abdomen  :o roughly between her 3rd and 4th segments, revealing a strange clear membrane between the segments.  Unfortunately, before anything else could happen, the larger female walked by and startled her, and the smaller one flew away.  Thankfully, I had gotten a picture before she left, which turned out spectacular.  Upon researching, I found the species is Leucospis affinis, and as I suspected, they are an ectoparasite of Osmia (mason bees) and Megachilidae (leafcutters).  I also found a phenomenal HD video of a wasp in the same genus performing the same behavior as I saw in my wasp, showing that what I thought was her ovipositor on her back was actually her ovipositor sheath.  Her ovipositor is actually attached underneath her abdomen near her waist and wraps all the way around onto her back, where it is protected in the sheath.  In order to position this extremely long appendage between her legs so she can drill into the bee nest, she has essentially an extra joint in her abdomen, so she can open it almost to a right angle!  How insane is that?!!  8)

Here's the video that I mentioned.  The poster doesn't allow it to be embedded here, but if you click on it, you can watch it.










I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led.  And through the air, I am she that walks unseen.

Offline Jen

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Re: Leucospis affinis
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2022, 08:54:30 pm »
If I remember clearly, it was Timothy Leary, 1965, said LSD trips can get a little intense?
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Offline The15thMember

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Re: Leucospis affinis
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2022, 11:09:15 pm »
If I remember clearly, it was Timothy Leary, 1965, said LSD trips can get a little intense?
:D  That's why I got photographic evidence!
I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led.  And through the air, I am she that walks unseen.

Offline Jen

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Re: Leucospis affinis
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2022, 01:29:19 am »
Hahaha! I'm glad you took that right ;D Seriously tho, that is one bad asp mason bee there. It doesn't look like it could sting or bite?
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Offline The15thMember

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Re: Leucospis affinis
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2022, 11:52:36 am »
Hahaha! I'm glad you took that right ;D Seriously tho, that is one bad asp mason bee there. It doesn't look like it could sting or bite?
No, I'd seriously doubt it.  If it's that hard for her to position her ovipositor, I'm not sure how she could use it for defense.  She may not even have a venom gland, many wasps with strange ovipositors do not. 

Unlike the sweat bee that stung me yesterday!  I've never been full out stung by a sweat bee before, and it was surprisingly noticeable for how small she was.  Okay, I don't want to exaggerate, this bee was like 1.5mm long, but I wouldn't have thought I'd even feel a sting from a bee that small.  It felt like an extra painful mosquito bite.  I was letting her crawl around on my arm while I cleaned up from inspecting the honey bees, and she moved down to my elbow right as I bent it, and she gave me a shot so I wouldn't crush her, and it worked!  I've got a little welt to prove that one too!  :D 
I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led.  And through the air, I am she that walks unseen.

Offline Jen

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Re: Leucospis affinis
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2022, 01:16:38 pm »
I love the sweat bees :) little iridescent green busy-ness ~
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Offline The15thMember

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Re: Leucospis affinis
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2022, 01:28:17 pm »
I love the sweat bees :) little iridescent green busy-ness ~
I know, they are so cute!  We have a ton of little black sweat bees that are all over my mom's bolting herbs right now.  She always leaves some to go to flower for their sake.  We also see the bigger Agapostemon sweat bees that are green with the striped abdomens.  We have these copper colored ones on the bee heaven right now, but I'm not sure if they are sweat bees or not.  They are too fast to study well.  I'll have to catch one and put her in the fridge for a few minutes so she'll slow down enough for me to get a good look at her. 
I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led.  And through the air, I am she that walks unseen.

Offline Bakersdozen

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Re: Leucospis affinis
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2022, 09:22:32 am »
15th,  what is bee heaven?

Offline The15thMember

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Re: Leucospis affinis
« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2022, 10:18:44 am »
https://www.reneesgarden.com/products/bee-heaven
Here's a link to the seeds we have.  My mom loves Renee's Garden for seeds, because they have great information on their website and packaging.  She planted some bee heaven last year and a few self-seeded and came up by themselves again this year.  The honeys don't seem to go for it much, but the little native bees love it. 
I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led.  And through the air, I am she that walks unseen.