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[nafex] Re: pollinator changes

I noticed there aren't many bumblebees here this year.  I haven't had a
single one crash into me, nor have I had to duck and weave to avoid them.
There are just as many of the usual pepo types and the little ones and the
weird long straightbodied wasps that like the same kinds of flowers as
butterflies do.  And we had the usual carpenter bee dive bombings all
spring.  But very few bumblebees.  I had been puzzling over this till I
realized that the "Oil Beetles" I saw so many of this spring parasitize
bees.  The book does not say what kind of bee, but judging by the size of
these things, they need a large host.  It's a giant black blister beetle
that appears in early spring, usually down in the weeds, and feigns death
when disturbed. If you look closely, you will see small drops on the caustic
oil at the leg joints. This is not a beetle for handling.  I had only seen 2
of these beetles in Tennessee in the previous 16 years, but I saw at least
10 this spring.  I am assuming they have "
controlled" our bumblebee population.
    Regular blister beetles, damn their little hides, seek out and lay their
eggs on grasshopper eggs.  I have mentioned this to local gardeners who
complain about blister beetles, and asked if they have ever had a problem
with grasshoppers.  They all say no, never.  Though some say they think they
would prefer the grasshoppers, we do not seem to have the choice.
    Nature will always fill a vacuam, so I have to wonder what will fill out
bumblebee vacuam, and whether this is a long term trend or a one off thing.
Honeybees did rebound a little here, but have never again reached the point
where we see them in the summer.  They favor us only in the very early
spring, when early flowers such as winter blooming honeysuckle, purple
deadnettle, and kale flowers attract them.  I suppose I will never again
step on a bee in my bare feet in the clover.  Not that it was a pleasant
childhood memory anyway...    Donna

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