Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sneezeweed and bees.

Helenium autumnale goes by several common names, but the best in my opinion is sneezeweed.

It's native to much of North America, growing along riverbanks, in ditches, and in other damp places. It is a tall, weedy weed. (Not all weeds are weedy.) It is commonly planted in gardens here, appreciated for its profuse blossoms and late summer colour. Bees like it too, and not only honey-and bumblebees. (Note to real entomologists: if I have misidentified animals in this post, please feel free to send correct names, and thank you.)

Megachile sp. , trying not to sneeze. Note the overall fuzziness, and unusually furry front legs.

Above is a leaf-cutter from the large genus Megachile (Fam. Megachilidae). A female, I think, gathering pollen to place with her eggs, laid in sequential cells in a cylindrical nest (tunnel, hollow twig, etc.) of some sort. It's a solitary (i.e., non-colonial) bee, with a life cycle similar to that of blue orchard/mason bees.

Cuckoo leaf-cutter bee, genus Coelioxys (I think). Note the pointy abdomen.

From the same family, Coelioxys sp., a cuckoo leaf-cutter bee who cuckolds other megachilids by laying eggs in their nests. The other species collects food; the cuckoo leaf-cutter larva eats it.

There they were, almost side by side on the Helenium.

"'Morning, Sam," (er, Samantha)

"'Morning, Ralph." (er, Ralphina)

A lot goes on on sneezeweed.

A large orange clump of Helenium down the road, with bumblebees.


swamp4me said...

We have two species of sneezeweed here - I got a chuckle out of your statement that it is planted in gardens over your way. It is a pretty plant though.

Hugh said...

A lot of what is planted here is weeds of the world. It's all pretty till someone gets his eye poked out.

kompoStella said...

apart from this post putting a big smile on my face, i wondered; where did the rock go? are we supposed to do with Rock Emeritus now? and wasn't there also the apt lizard in your sidebar? i miss the rock, that's my two cents for today :-D

Hugh said...

KompoStella: It is heart-warming to learn that others have cared for the iconic rock and lizard. I had thought the page a bit cluttered, so decided to do some pruning. Plus, I was never sure how to represent paper. Paper isn't particularly photogenic on its own and its representation requires elusive cleverness. Rock Emeritus remained for sentimental reasons, plus it was hiding down there at the bottom.

I shall reconsider. As your page is beautifully arranged, I value your opinion. :)