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925RE: [beemonitoring] Bee-shaped and fluffy character

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  • Weber, Don
    Jan 18, 2010
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      I do think a hummingbird moth (or other diurnal hawk moth) is the best guess as to this pollinator – the size, hovering habit, and long proboscis sound right.  Here is a darker one from SE USA: http://elmostreport.blogspot.com/2008/07/snowberry-clearwing-moth-hemaris.html

      They are definitely important pollinators for some plant species.  http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/pollinator-of-the-month/hawk_moths.shtml (note reference to orchids and Darwin in Madagascar)


      Mint family looks likely from the pic, thought SA has such a high biodiversity it is perilous to guess on plants!





      Donald C. Weber, Research Entomologist & Lead Scientist

      USDA Agricultural Research Service

      Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory

      BARC-West Building 011A, Room 107

      Beltsville, MD 20705  USA


      From: beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com [mailto:beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Laura Russo
      Sent: Monday, January 18, 2010 9:17
      To: hennetjie
      Cc: beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [beemonitoring] Bee-shaped and fluffy character



      The picture looks like a flower in the Lamiaceae (mint family).  It seems to have a square stem.  The strong aroma seems to confirm this.  Having said that, the Lamiaceae is a big family, so you would have to provide more information to identify the plant to species.
      Is it possible that your pollinator is a hummingbird moth/hawkmoth in the Sphingidae?  (something like this perhaps?  http://farm1. static.flickr. com/23/111436166 _960405113b. jpg)
      Just guesses.


      On Mon, Jan 18, 2010 at 5:50 AM, hennetjie <henpen@telkomsa. net> wrote:




      Subject: Bee-shaped and fluffy character


      Hi, Mr Sam and bee friends, 


      Once a member on this list told me - and it was greatly appreciated - that my extraordinary bee that would make me rich and famous, was only a syrphid fly with striped eyes (which I could then easily identify from pictures on the net). 


      So, maybe, I thought, someone could also help this South African to identify his rich and famous insect? (The picture shows the plant it visits, not the insect.)


      Thank you so much,



      >>I live in the Athlone area of Cape Town and although there are VERY few bees, I have one constant visitor that I cannot identify.    Sorry - also too fast to photograph.

                Probably about 20-25mm long; much larger than the normal [Cape honey] bee - yes, it's bee shaped and fluffy - definitely not a wasp!; black in colour; makes no sound at all; and has a long proboscis - almost the same length as its body; and probably as result of this, does not actually settle anywhere.
      Initially I thought it was a bumble-bee or at least of that family - but the wingspan is much bigger; besides which I don't think we actually get bumble-bees in this area,do we?

      I would think the pollinating 'abilities' is limited unless the flower is very large to accommodate its length - I've not ever seen it carrying pollen.

      Attached is a photo of the plant it visits -don't know the name but it's a very herby smelling plant, often found in beach gardens.  Needless to say - its annual visits are not very long - probably between October and February/March - having said that, I haven't seen it since before Christmas, this [summer] season.

      I hope I've given enough information. ...can you help?

      Thanks so much

      PhD Candidate
      Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in Ecology
      Biology Department
      Pennsylvania State University
      University Park, PA 16802

      office: 415 Mueller Lab
      phone: 814-865-7912

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