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250Whoops, A little too quick on that Chrysurus email - final version

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  • Sam Droege
    Apr 11, 2008

      Sorry hit send a little too quickly earlier, this is a cleaned up version....sam


      Today Anita Collins (Retired from the USDA ARS Bee Research Laboratory) was down visiting our lab.  We have been looking through her collection, which includes specimens taken at Lehigh Gap Nature Reserve in Eastern Pennsylvania where the mountains end and the piedmont begins.  The Gap is an interesting site, nearly denuded due to about 100 years of zinc smelting.  Little grows and most of the site is bare soil.  A student group has been putting out bowl traps and we have been looking through the results.  Until a few moments ago we were looking through mostly standard open country stuff but then up popped a very out of place Lithurgus.  

      This species, Lithurgus chrysurus, was documented by R. B. Roberts as occurring in New Jersey.  However, no specimens had been seen subsequent to his publication of the article.

      Roberts R. B. 1978. The nesting biology, behavior and immature stages of Lithurge chrysurus, an adventitious wood-boring bee in New Jersey (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society. 51:735–745.

      I have the article on order so don't actually know where in NJ he found this species, but given that it is in an adjacent state, likely it simply went undetected.  Unlike the cacti loving species of Eastern North America this species is oligolectic on Centaurea pollen (see abstract below).  It is also a wood boring species and apparently can inflict a great deal of economic damage...see what Rust wrote below:

      Wood Destruction by L. chrysurus

      Carpenter bees are found in 2 families, Apidae with 3 genera (Xylocopa, Ceratina and Pithitis) and Lithurgus in the Megachilidae (O'Toole and Raw, 1991; Michener, 2000). Females in these genera excavate cavities in wood and thus can cause structural weakness to lumber used in construction. Although not of a common occurrence, the destruction of lumber by L. chrysurus can represent a serious problem to wooden structures. The pine support beam of the veranda roof of M. Le Roux's house had been weakened by the 3 years of L. chrysurus burrowing activities and continued nesting would certainly have resulted in the structural failure of the beam. Nesting had to be stopped either by eradicating the population or preventing access to the beam. Roberts (1978) reported that the adventive population of L. chysrusus to North America had nested in the compressed wood fiber siding (13 mm thick) and hardwood siding on a porch and structural beams, wall studs and roof beams, of a home in Phillipsburg, New Jersey. The homeowner had removed and discarded nearly all of the siding from where the bees were nesting and had treated the area with insecticide. Roberts (1978) observed hundreds of nests in the porch and determined that the bees had been nesting in the home for more than three years. They had not spread to any other homes of a similar type of construction in the area.

      It would be worth alerting local invasive species groups regarding this species and perhaps some quick eliminating could prevent its further spread.

      English Title: Nesting biology and foraging ecology of the wood-boring bee Lithurgus chrysurus (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae).
      Personal Authors: Rust, R. W., Cambon, G., Grossa, J. P. T., Vaissière, B. E.
      Author Affiliation: Biology Department, University of Nevada, Reno, NV 89557, USA.
      Editors: No editors
      Document Title: Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society, 2004   (Vol. 77)  (No. 3) 269-279


      The biology of the wood-boring bee Lithurgus chrysurus is described and the biology of the genus Lithurgus is summarized. Lithurgus chrysurus is univoltine and overwinter as prepupae inside cocoons. The females excavate their own burrows in various dead woods and they do not reuse burrows. The cells are separated by partitions composed of cut wood pieces. To assess the diet breadth of L. chrysurus, pollen analyses were conducted on 8 samples of provisions from 3 nests and 2 faeces samples from one nest. The provisions averaged 30 600 pollen grains per mg of dry matter. The proportion of broken pollen grains averaged 3.3% and was consistent among nests and for provisions and faeces. Centaurea was the dominant pollen type found in all provisions and faeces, accounting for 98.0 to 99.9% of the pollen based on the number of grains. This proportion was similar among nests for both provisions and faeces. These results indicate that, at the study site, L. chrysurus was strictly oligolectic on Centaurea pollen while nectar was probably collected on other plant species as well.

      Publisher: Kansas Entomological Society


       Sam Droege  Sam_Droege@...                      
      w 301-497-5840 h 301-390-7759 fax 301-497-5624
      USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
      BARC-EAST, BLDG 308, RM 124 10300 Balt. Ave., Beltsville, MD  20705
      Left Open

      The shutters are rusted open on the north
      kitchen window ivy has grown over
      the fastenings the casements are hooked open
      in the stone frame high above the river
      looking out across the tops of plum trees
      tangled on their steep slope branches furred
      with green moss gray lichens the plums falling
      through them and beyond them the ancient
      walnut trees standing each alone on its
      own shadow in the plowed red field full
      of amber September light after so
      long unattended dead boughs still hold
      places of old seasons high out of the leaves
      under which in the still day the first walnuts
      from this last summer are starting to fall
      beyond the bare limbs the river looks
      motionless like the far clouds that were not
      there before and will not be there again

            - W. S. Merwin
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