New discoveries with rare Florida bee. Giant invasive bees could threaten native bees. Wild bees interrupted by extreme weather. AI identifies beetles with 85% accuracy.
(Florida Museum of Natural History) Museum scientists ave found the first nest of Florida’s extraordinarily rare blue calamintha bee and added a new location to its known range: Ocala National Forest. They also confirmed the insect feeds on a second, but highly endangered, host plant. Their findings will help inform conservation and land management efforts and a federal assessment on whether the blue calamintha bee qualifies for protection under the Endangered Species Act.
(Griffin Daily News) University of Georgia entomologists are seeking citizen help to document the presence of the sculptured resin bee – also known as the giant resin bee – an invasive bee that could threaten the native carpenter bee population. The sculptured resin bee is native to Japan and China and was first found in the U.S. in North Carolina in 1994. While they are not aggressive to people, these bees have the potential to create problems for native carpenter bees by taking over their nests, where they then lay their own eggs. Sculptured resin bees take advantage of the cavities created in wood by carpenter bees because they do not have the mandible strength to bore into the wood on their own.
(Arizona Daily Star) Cactus experts are tracking an unprecedented outbreak of “side blooms” on saguaros across Southern Arizona and beyond. Typically, the giant cacti sprout flowers only around the tips of their arms and trunks, but this year a large number of them are also pushing out buds farther down their stems. Experts suspect that what’s happening now could be fallout from a run of record heat in 2017 that damaged many of the cacti, disrupting their development. Saguaros generally produce flowers in early May and bear fruit in early summer. Their waxy white blossoms only stay open for a single day – just long enough, if they’re lucky, to be cross-pollinated by a bee, bat or bird.
(EurekAlert, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) Many species of ground-dwelling beetles, ladybugs, hoverflies, damsel bugs, spiders and parasitic wasps kill and eat pest species that routinely plague farmers, including aphids and corn rootworm larvae and adults. But the beneficial arthropods that live in or near cropped lands also are susceptible to insecticides and other farming practices that erase biodiversity on the landscape. A new study reveals that beneficial arthropods are nearly twice as abundant and diverse in uncultivated field edges in the spring as they are in areas that are cropped – if those field edges are rich in an array of flowers and other broad-leaved plants and not just mowed grass.
(The Guardian) Earlier this year, Nebraska's attorney general’s office sued the company for multiple alleged environmental violations, citing “an ongoing threat to the environment”, and late last month state lawmakers passed a bill restricting the use of pesticide-treated seeds for ethanol production. Residents of Mead say the crackdown on the plant is welcomed, but, in many respects, is far too late. The lingering impact of the pollution won’t simply end with the new law, nor will many of the industrial agriculture practices that caused it. Instead, the pollution continues to wreak havoc and there are fears that Mead’s trauma may be repeated in other small towns across the state where large-scale industrial agriculture practices continue.
(E&E News) Some proponents of a concerted push to protect large swaths of natural spaces across the country are raising concerns that the Biden administration’s new conservation proposal is too timid, failing to lay out a plan to truly preserve vulnerable lands and waters.
(Yale Environment 360) From California to Maine, land is being given back to Native American tribes who are committing to managing it for conservation. Some tribes are using traditional knowledge, from how to support wildlife to the use of prescribed fires, to protect their ancestral grounds.
(EurekAlert, UNEP/FAO) Facing the triple threat of climate change, loss of nature and pollution, the world must deliver on its commitment to restore at least one billion degraded hectares of land in the next decade – an area about the size of China. Countries also need to add similar commitments for oceans, according to a new report by the U.N. Environment Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.
(Farmers Advance) This study looked at a specific slice of the bees who were active during May-June and visited blueberry bushes while they were blooming. The researchers saw a 61% decline in the number of bees between the first and second sampling periods, because of extreme warm temperatures in spring 2012. Some bee species recovered, but others such as the blueberry specialist bee, Andrena carolina, displayed a dramatic decline and slow recovery in the third sampling period.
(IFLScience) “It’s very hard to know what’s going on from a single clipped video like that,” Dr. Lars Chittka says. “Bees learn individually to identify the flower features that come with rewarding nectar, and many species (including honeybees) are extremely flexible in that learning: it doesn’t have to be a flower, it can be a sugary drink bottle whose visual signals (e.g. the cap’s or drink colour, and the drink's scent) they have come to associate with sugary rewards. Since discarded bottles are generally all over the place in parks etc, they have plenty of opportunities to make such associations.”
(Penn State) The researchers report, “We detect a worldwide acceleration in the rates of vegetation compositional change beginning between 4.6 and 2.9 thousand years ago that is globally unprecedented over the past 18,000 years in both magnitude and extent.” They add that “the scale of human effects on terrestrial ecosystems exceeds even the climate-driven transformation of the last deglaciation.”
(Popular Science) There is a huge diversity of bees and wasps out there. Within this dizzying array of insects, it’s true that lots of them can’t sting – but it’s probably not the ones that you think. And among those that can sting, only a small minority are responsible for the bulk of human stinging encounters.
(Entomology Today) Can machine learning be used for accurate species identification of beetles and other invertebrates? Researchers using carabid beetle data from the National Ecological Observatory Network created an algorithm that reached 85% accuracy on unidentified images. Eventually, they hope machine learning could one day be used to classify unidentified species in NEON bycatch and answer new questions about invertebrate diversity and abundance across North America.