Thursday, May 13, 2010

CA hedgenettle ~ 05/13/10 ~ Elkhorn Slough

orange-rumped bumble bee on California hedgenettle
Bombus melanopygus on Stachys bullata

So, where's the orange rump? According to an old post from Seattle, WA, only females have the orange band??? I thought this bumble bee would be easy to identify to species. Nope. After pulling my hair out the other morning over paintbrushes and owl's clovers IDs, I was ready to simply call this a Bombus sp. and call it a day. This is definitely not one of the two most commonly mentioned CA species, the yellow-faced bumble bee (B. vosnesenskii) nor the Sonoran bumble bee (B. sonorus). Thanks to a lovely photo ID site from UC Irvine (also linked in common names here), I'm fairly confident of this ID even though I read somewhere there are 27 described species of bumble bees in CA (and probably several more undescribed).

As evidence of why I prefer photos of the living, versus collection specimens, check out this Discover Life site of pinned B. melanopygus. I dare any lay person to look at those pinned bees and think, oh yeah, that's what I saw. With the explosion of macro photography and institutions wanting to share their resources online, I predict we'll be seeing better and better ID sites in the near future. Often one photograph is not enough; it's preferable to have a whole collection of photographs. Sometimes this can be a burden, especially when those photo collections are not always reviewed for accurate identification. However, I'm still glad to see this trend.

I'm fairly confident of the plant ID, too. The other possibility is rigid hedgenettle (Stachys ajugoides ssp. ajugoides), but it just didn't have the right face to me.

There's also another insect next to the bumble bee. I can't tell from my pictures if it's a plant bug or a beetle. My pictures are still much improved from last year.

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