Brown-Winged Striped Sweat Bee

The brown-winged striped sweat bee (Agapostemon splendens) is another victim of Extremely Obvious Naming; it’s unfortunate that this gorgeous, metallic green bee has such a boring name. This is actually a male A. splendens; the abdomens of females are metallic green, and their tibia are furry. Sweat bees (family Halictidae) come in a huge variety…

Parasitic Wasp and Gall

This is an interesting setup — this wasp is actually a parasite of a parasite. She’s walking over this tree gall, seeing if she can lay her eggs in any of the parasitic insects living inside the gall! Galls (rounded protrusions of trunk or stem) form on plants when (usually, larval) insects burrow inside. The…

Acrobat Ant

I love encountering entirely new species! I had never heard of an acrobat ant before I got a photo of this little (3mm!) lady. Acrobat ants get their name from their ability to raise their abdomen over their thorax and head when disturbed (you can kind of see this one lifting her butt at me…

Thread-Waisted Wasp

Originally I thought this was some sort of fly. Then I thought it was a wasp. Then I thought it was a wasp mimicking a fly. /r/insects didn’t know what it was. Months later, while searching for Polistes wasps on google, I scrolled past a picture of a similar species of sand-digger wasp, and —…

Paper Wasp

Paper wasps (Polistes sp.) are named because of the paper-like nests the queens build. They are members of the family Vespidae. Paper wasps are primitively eusocial, like bees. There are three castes: fertile queens, infertile female workers, and fertile males who do nothing but fertilize the queen. Founding queens sometimes start a nest in a…