Bugs like Blue. I found a bunch of these little ones yesterday floating on the surface of our above ground pool. They were also all along the outside of the pool (which is blue). I scooped out all the ones that were struggling in the water and watched as this one dried itself off. It reminded me of watching my cats grooming after finishing a meal of Fancy Feast wet cat food.
A Soft-Winged Flower Beetle, these are in the family Melyridae (Genus Listrus). At only about 2 mm in size, they were indeed pretty tiny. Listrus beetles feed on both pollen and nectar. They are covered with dense setae (little hairs) that pollen easily adheres to. Check out the paper reference below and learn how they have been recognized as one of the most important pollinators of plants in Western North America.
Sighted April 12, 2018, San Juan Island, WA. Blue Orchard Mason Bee (Osmia lignaria). These are important early (native) pollinators. Adults hibernate overwinter and emerge from March to May. Blue Orchard Mason Bees are being managed as orchard pollinators as they are excellent at pollinating fruit trees such as pear, cherry, plum, and apple, as well as quince and others, including blueberries. Blue Orchard Mason Bees and other solitary bees in the genus Megachilidae (like leaf-cutting bees) carry pollen on their bellies instead of special baskets on their hind legs like honey bees. The Blue Orchard Mason Bee use tubular cavities for nests, partitioning each brood cell with a wall of mud. Although similar in size, Blue Orchard bees are easy to distinguish from honey bees because they are metallic in coloring, often dark blue or blue-black.
Bombus mixtus or Mixed Bumble Bee queens emerge after overwintering to begin the process of making a nest (typically in the ground) where she will begin to make wax pots to lay her eggs in. You can help save these important pollinators by reducing use of herbicides and lawn chemicals in your yard. If you find one on a cold day, help it out by providing a boost of carbohydrate energy. You can wet a sponge or cotton with sugar water or prepackaged hummingbird food and offer it a drink. The hungry bee will thank you for it. Remember to “bee” nice to bees!
***Text and photographs copyright 2012 by Cynthia Brast. No part of this story may be reproduced in any form without the expressed written consent of the author.