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Bee-shaped and fluffy character

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  • hennetjie
    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
    Message 1 of 6 , Jan 18, 2010
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      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,
      hen
       
      >>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<<

    • Laura Russo
      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,
      Message 2 of 6 , Jan 18, 2010
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        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.

        Laura

        On Mon, Jan 18, 2010 at 5:50 AM, hennetjie <henpen@...> 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,
        hen
         
        >>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
      • Weber, Don
        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.
        Message 3 of 6 , 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!

           

          Don

           

          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

          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.

          Laura

          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,

          hen

           

          >>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

        • hennetjie
          Thank you very much for replying, Laura, Liz and Don, have sent your replies (without personal details, just to be on the safe side of privacy) to the person
          Message 4 of 6 , Jan 18, 2010
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            Thank you very much for replying, Laura, Liz and Don,
             
            have sent your replies (without personal details, just to be on the safe side of privacy) to the person who asked and I also thought it might be a black carpenter bee (perhaps the female is black?) , but from the pictures I found, it doesn't seem to be all that hairy.
             
            Much appreciated. I also searched the net, simply because the question intrigued me and now I have found so much new info. Thank you all for that.
             
            Cool that Darwin was right... 
             
            hen
            ? Carpenter bee, sphinx or hawk moth, silence of the lamb moths...
          • Doug Yanega
            In South Africa, there is a distinct alternative which those of us from the US might not consider: a nemestrinid fly. If the proboscis is long and
            Message 5 of 6 , Jan 19, 2010
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              In South Africa, there is a distinct alternative which those of us
              from the US might not consider: a nemestrinid fly. If the proboscis
              is long and *non-retractile*, then this is very likely, and would
              rule out a hawkmoth. Nemestrinids in the US are fond of mints, so the
              host plant also fits.

              Peace,
              --

              Doug Yanega Dept. of Entomology Entomology Research Museum
              Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314 skype: dyanega
              phone: (951) 827-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
              http://cache.ucr.edu/~heraty/yanega.html
              "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
              is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82
            • hennetjie
              To the list members who replied to my first query. This is what I have found out to date: It was confirmed [P MacKenzie] that the plant is indeed a member of
              Message 6 of 6 , Jan 19, 2010
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                To the list members who replied to my first query. This is what I have found out to date: 
                 
                It was confirmed [P MacKenzie] that the plant is indeed a member of the Lamiaceae Family, genus Plectranthus, species neochillus - an  indigenous plant commonly referred to as "Stinkbossie" (=stink/smelly bush) or "Spur flower", known to attract Carpenter bees due to their propensity for the colour blue.
                 
                And according to Dr C Eardley: "Yes you do get large black carpenter bees in the Cape, one 2-3 cm long, another 1.0-1.5 cm long. They are the same genus but different subgenera to the American big, black carpenter bee. There is also one with yellow stripes, and from George eastward an orange one. Yes it has a long proboscis but I'm not sure how long."
                 
                I forgot to ask if they are hairy... tcht.
                 
                Most obliged.
                 
                Regards,
                hen
                 
                 
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