Figure 1. Horse guard, a predator of horse flies. Photo: Laurie Frisch, Bugguide.net.
A retired cattle owner called the AgCenter who still has horses wanted to the name of the predators of horse flies. He called those predators “horse guards.” AHA was unfamiliar with this insect and consulted with an insect specialist.
Bernard Segal, a professional entomologist, wrote in a scientific journal in 1936, “The horse-guard (Monedula carolina Drury), a predaceous wasp, is among the more important checks on the horsefly. These wasps lay their eggs in burrows and watch over them until they hatch. As soon as larvae appear, the wasps supply them with food, which consists of horsefly adults. The wasp frequents pastures where they pick the flies off the molested horses and cattle and carry them to their nests."
Figure 2. A long-horned bee, a native of the eastern US. Photo, Christy Frederic, Pineville, LA.
Figure 3. Male leafcutter bees, native to North American. Photo: Christy Frederic, Pineville, LA.
Christy, a regular reader of RSFF, shared her pictures and this note, “, I see these bees as I am looking more closely for more aster yellows and lubber grasshoppers. One type has obvious yellow legs, and the others are mostly black with only a small amount of white on the head. [I] have searched and not able to clearly identify. The yellow legged ones might be miner or furrow bee. Nothing on the black ones. Any bug specialists available??? THANKS!!”
The bee in Figure 2 is a long-horned bee, and it is a native, ground nesting bee as Christy suspected. It is an important economic pollinator for sunflowers, squash, and melons in Texas. It is also desirable pollinator for both garden flowers and to wildflowers.
Figure 3 has two male leaf-cutting bees (LCB), and this pollinator species is also native to North American. Male leaf-cutting bees only live a brief time because their only responsibility is to mate. Beatriz Moisset, an entomologist with the US Forest Service, described their nesting habits, “They do not live in large colonies as honey bees do; most are solitary, meaning that each mother takes care of her own brood; a few forms small colonies, but they are not truly social; they merely share the entrance to their respective nests. They nest in a variety of cavities in wood or hollow stems. There are even some that nest underground.”
Moisset writes about the maternal drive of a female LCB, “The mother brings pollen to the nest and some nectar in her crop. She kneads the mixture into a bee loaf, adding some of her saliva, which may contain antibacterial and fungicidal substances. It takes many loads to build up a bee loaf large enough to feed one grub from egg to mature size. She diligently visits numerous flowers on her quest to gather the necessary pollen and nectar. When there is enough food, she lays an egg on top. Then she seals that small chamber with chewed up leaves. If you notice perfect round holes in the leaves of your rose bushes, do not begrudge them that little material that they need to raise their families. She repeats this process of making bee loaves, laying eggs, and building partitions until the entire nest hole is full. Then, she builds a final, thicker wall. Shortly afterwards she dies.”
Figure 4. A native bumblebee Photo: Walton Baggett, DeQuincy, LA.
Walton asked a succinct question, “[Is it a] carpenter bee or bumble bee?” The short answer to Walton’s question is “bumblebee.” Ms. Susan Collins-Smith, an Extension Associate with the Mississippi State University Extension, shares this description of a bumblebee, “Bumble bees are large with hairy bodies. They can be either black and yellow or black and white. They build their nests in the ground like yellowjackets, where dozens of bees can live. They are not aggressive unless their nest is disturbed. But bumble bees have a painful sting, and dozens of bees may attack if they sense the nest is threatened. They can be very aggressive in this situation.”
Here is a description of the carpenter bee, “Both males and females have a smooth, shiny body. But males of this species have white faces, while females have black faces. Males have no sting. Females can sting but usually do not.”
If you want to contact Roots, Shoots, Fruits, and Flowers, please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 337.284.5188 or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com .
“Before you buy or use an insecticide product, first read the label, and strictly follow label recommendations. Mention of trade names or commercial products in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by Louisiana State University AgCenter.”
“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”