This is an important point. What is the value of common names when we attempt to educate the public? If we stop referring to L. chrysurus as a carpenter bee should we come up with another common name (Japanese wood bee?) or try to convince the public to learn the scientific name?
There is a great public resistance to scientific names in America you don't see in some other English speaking countries especially England and Australia. The gardening and natural history "impulse" remains strong and people with some high school training in biology often prefer to use scientific names (of plants, mind you) or they turn the scientific name into a common name. For example, instead of planting gum tree and native honeysuckles in Australia you now plant eucalypts and banksias.
We may becoming victims of our own success. As the general public becomes aware that there are many more "kinds of bees" than commercial honeybees and bumblebees what do we tell them to call everything else? Well, in the past we've generalized and referred to yellow-faced bees, miner bees, cuckoo bees, leaf cutter bees, carpenter bees etc. If you go to Youtube and look for a video of Megachile sculpturalis it's listed under the name, giant Asian resin bee. In England, some people call members of the genus Anthophora "flower bees" (not very original). In Australia, one entomologist is trying to convince people to call Amegilla bombiformis the "teddy bear bee" (look it up, the name is apt). What should we be doing to familiarize a well-meaning public who have never had basic school training in taxonomy (plant or animal)? Should we make up common names or "anglicize" genera; eg. andrenas, xylocopes, megachiles, nomias etc.?
One thing is for certain. if the hardware and home protection industry identify L. chrysurus as a "threat" to property it will get a common name but it may not be the one we think is appropriate.
On Wed, Sep 5, 2012 at 9:42 AM, Jack Neff <jlnatctmi@...>
Lithurgus chrysurus is a carpenter bee in the sense that, like most Xylocopa spp., it excavates its nests in wood (although wood boring bee would probably be more accurate since what they do has little to do with carpentry). However, that was not the reason for my comment. To reiterate, the term carpenter bee has long been used as a common name for various Xylocopa species. In fact, "carpenter bee" is the registered common name of Xylocopa virginica in the American Entomological Society's list of "official" common names. Loosely using carpenter bee for an unrelated group is only likely to sew confusion. Abandoning traditional definitions, we might as well start calling all the various other megachilids and halictids which excavate their nests in wood carpenter bees as well. Carpenter
bee is one of our few well established common names for a narrowly defined group of bees (with honey bee, bumble bee, leafcutter bee). Why mess things up.
John L. Neff
7307 Running Rope
Austin,TX 78731 US and512-345-7219
More on Lithurgus:
"O'Toole and Raw (2004) described Lithurgus as megachilid "carpenter" bees. They do not cut leaf pieces like ohters of the family, rather they make holes in tree branches."(Hannan and Maeta 2007). The article goes on to say that Lithurgus collaris seals completed nests with wood dust. The quote above refers to the book 'Bees of the World' by O'Toole and Raw (2004).
Nesting Biology and the Nest Architecture of Lithurgus (Lithurgus) collaris Smith (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae) on Iriomote Island, Southwestern Subtropical Archipelago, Japan
Md. Abdul Hannan and Yasuo Maeta
On Tue, Sep 4, 2012 at 6:42 AM, Jack Neff <jlnatctmi@...>
Anita: I think using the term "carpenter bee" as a common name for a Lithurgus is unfortunate as that common name has, for many years, been rather firmly been attached to Xylocopa. Made up common names often add to identity confusion rather than clarifying things and think this does that just that.
John L. Neff
Central Texas Melittological Institute
7307 Running Rope
Austin,TX 78731 USA512-345-7219
Recently we found a nest site for this exotic carpenter bee. At Sam's urging I am posting a PowerPoint at www.slideshare.net/anitacollins1806
. Take a look at the aggregate nest site, an opened nest, and the background on this bee in PA.
If you use the photos, please acknowledge Lehigh Gap Nature Center. This is a unique nature center established by volunteers on a Super Fund Site.
If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called research.