Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Bubbling Bee

A while ago I wrote a blog about the fly pictured above. I'd caught it in the unlikely act of blowing a bubble. Click on it to enlarge. (Click here to read that blog.) Although no one knows why flies blow bubbles, theories range from concentrating liquid food by evaporation, to aerating to reduce some kinds of microbial activity, to fly sickness, cleaning the mouthparts, cooling off by evaporation, and more. I thought I had been pretty lucky to take that photograph at just the right moment. Once in a lifetime, right? 
So imagine my surprise when I enlarged this photo, which I had taken casually and only because I didn't recognize the insect. It turned out to be an invasive species of bee called a punctate masked bee, Hylaeus punctatus. The species has only recently been introduced to the United States. AND IT IS BLOWING A BUBBLE! I normally wouldn't use a picture this blurry in a blog, but a bee blowing a bubble trumps that for blog worthiness. And now, like a strict elementary school teacher with a classroom full of unruly gum-chewing kids, I'll be checking every insect I see for secret bubbles. 

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