25 de noviembre de 2023

Pollinator of the month: Indiscriminate Cuckoo Bumble Bee (Bombus insularis)

There are four species of Psithyrus (cuckoo bumble bees) found in Calgary; they are the Ashton's cuckoo bumble bee, indiscriminate cuckoo bumble bee, Fernald's cuckoo bumble bee, and Suckley's cuckoo bumble bee. All four species are native to Calgary.

Cuckoo bumble bees are considered obligate brood parasites or social parasites. Female cuckoo bumble bees emerge fertilized in the spring. They then enter another bumble bee nest and kill or immobilize the host species queen and lay their own eggs. Once the eggs of the cuckoo bumble bee hatch, the larvae are taken care of by the host species workers. The adults of the species are reproductive males and females, no workers exist. This differs from the typical life cycle of other bumble bees.

As a result of being social parasites cuckoo bumble bees lack a worker caste and no longer develop pollen baskets (corbicula), making them completely dependent on their host species for survival. Despite not having pollen baskets they are still considered pollinators, however they are only visiting flowers for their own nourishment thus the pollination behaviour of cuckoo bumble bees differs from other bumble bees which may negatively impact plant reproductive success.

Cuckoo bumble bee populations may be threatened by decline in their host species populations, however while cuckoo bumble bees have negative impacts on the survival of the host species they likely do not contribute to population decline of their host species. . For the indiscriminate cuckoo bumble bee (Bombus insularis) their host species include yellow-fronted bumble bee, Nevada bumblebee, tricolored bumblebee, and golden northern bumble bee.

To identify the indiscriminate cuckoo bumble bee (Bombus insularis) look for a yellow top of the head and yellow area in front of the wings (scutum). The area behind the wings (scutellum) can be yellow or black. The area between the wings (alar) is black. The abdomen is divided into six sections (tergites). The first and second sections are fully black; the third section is usually black with yellow being sometimes near the bottom and sides of this section; the fourth and fifth sections are black in the middle with yellow on the sides. The tergites never have any white hairs on them.

Indiscriminate cuckoo bumble bees have been found pollinating fireweed, asters, goldenrods, common basket flowers, and narrow leaf hawkweed.

An indiscriminate cuckoo bumble bee on top of a yellow flower with pollen on their face

Publicado el 25 de noviembre de 2023 19:13 por kiarra13 kiarra13 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

11 de noviembre de 2023

Plant of the Month: Common Poppy (Papaver rhoeas)

Papaver rhoeas is typically referred to as the common poppy, red poppy, corn poppy, Flanders poppy and many more. This scientific name, Papaver rhoeas, comes from the Latin papps which describes the milky latex that comes from the stems of the flowers and from the Greek rhoeo which is used to describe how quickly the petals fall. The common name corn poppy is attributed to this poppy being a common weed in many agricultural fields. The common name Flanders poppy is in reference to the poem “In Flanders Fields” written by John McCrae, which was inspired by this poppy being a common site in the western front during World War I. This has led the common poppy to be worn on the left side of the body and over the heart as a sign of remembrance for those who have died in war and to honour veterans.

To identify a common poppy look for four petals that are arranged in two whorls and range in colour from pink to red. They also have two sepals that are separated from one another. There are 13 or more stamens in the common poppies. They have leaves that have an alternative arrangement on the hairy stem. The leaves are simple (undivided or unbranched), which can be lobed or unlobed and have a fuzzy or hairy underside. They tend to be 10-60cm tall. The common poppy is native to the eastern Mediterranean. The common poppy was introduced to North America. They are commonly found in man-made or disturbed habitats, meadows or fields, or forest edges.

Poppies have many uses. Many people like to plant poppies in their gardens because they are easy to grow and have a beautiful, bright colour. Their petals have been used as red dye. Their seeds have been used as a filling for baked goods. The corn poppy can produce 65 000 to 450 000 seeds which can remain dormant for up to 80 years before sprouting.

Poppies were pollinated primarily by the glaphyrid beetles (Glaphyridae), however as it spread throughout the world bees, flies and other beetles became important pollinators for the common poppy. This shift in pollinators was also correlated in a shift in the light reflected by poppies found in Europe versus in the eastern Mediterranean.

Common poppy from a top view

Publicado el 11 de noviembre de 2023 16:18 por kiarra13 kiarra13 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

26 de octubre de 2023

Pollinator of the Month: Western Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)

The western honey bee (Apis mellifera), also known as the European honey bee, is a eusocial species. This means the adults live in a group, have individuals caring for young that they did not give birth to, have a division of reproductive labour where not all individuals are capable of reproducing, and have overlapping generations. The queen bee is the only female in the colony that lays eggs. A queen bee is raised by feeding a female larvae royal jelly in addition to pollen and nectar. She can lay up to 15000 eggs a day. Male bees, also known as drones, are produced from unfertilized eggs (haploid) and have the role of mating with the queen. Worker bees are female bees, who are produced from fertilized eggs (diploid), and are only fed pollen and nectar, are responsible for the maintenance tasks in the hive, including raising the young and collecting the nectar.

Western honey bees are commonly 10-20 mm and have hairy eyes. Their abdomens have orange, brown and black stripes. They also have hair on their thorax, but tend to be less hairy than bumblebees. They also tend to be more slender than bumblebees.

Western honey bees were brought to North America from Europe in the 1600s for their agricultural capacity to produce honey and pollinate crops. Western honey bees are generalist species, foraging on a variety of flower species. They are currently still a managed species that is important for the pollination of crops and are rarely able to survive in the wild. However, the western honey bee likely outcompetes native bees by using too much nectar and not leaving enough for other bees to use. This negative effect that the western honey bee has on native bees may not be as prominent due to different flower preferences or feeding times, as scientists are still investigating competition patterns between European honey bees and native bee populations. Western honey bees may also negatively impact native bees by spreading diseases and infections to them.

To support native bees you can plant native flowers, including flowers with a variety of bloom times, shapes, sizes and colours. Additionally, you can try to add areas or materials that bees use to create habitats. This includes putting up bee hotels for solitary bees and leaving patches of bare ground for ground nesting bees.

Western honey bee on a pink and yellow flower

Publicado el 26 de octubre de 2023 18:42 por kiarra13 kiarra13 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

17 de octubre de 2023

Calgary Pollinators: Bee a Community Scientist Research Study

Hello everyone,

As we are at the end of pollinator season, we hope that you may be willing to spend 10 minutes
of your time to complete a survey for a research study about the Calgary Pollinators Community
Science Project. We are interested in understanding how you became involved with the project
in one or more of the following ways:

● Joining the Calgary Pollinator Project page on iNaturalist
● Uploading an observation to the project on iNaturalist
● Someone else added your observation to the project
● Identifying insects or plants within the project on iNaturalist
● Viewing and/or interacting with Calgary Pollinators Project content on social media/online
● Attending a community pollinator walk

Your feedback will help us understand what interests people about community science and what
makes them excited to learn and participate. Benefits of participating in this research study and
completing this survey include:

● Contributing to community science research
● Contributing to pollinator research
● Improvements to the Calgary Pollinators Community Science Project
● Potential improvements to other local community science projects

Begin Survey

We thank you for your time and hope that you will continue to BEE a community scientist!
The University of Calgary Conjoint Faculties Research Ethics Board has approved this study
(REB23-1057). If you have any questions or concerns regarding this research study, survey, or
the Calgary Pollinators Community Science Project, please don’t hesitate to contact Justine
(justine.doll@ucalgary.ca), or Dr. Mindi Summers (mindi.summers@ucalgary.ca).

Kind regards,

Justine Doll (she/her)
University of Calgary

Publicado el 17 de octubre de 2023 17:15 por jdo77 jdo77 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

13 de octubre de 2023

Plant of the Month: Smooth Blue Aster (Symphyotrichum laeve)

I have two exciting things to share! First, we have reached our goal of 10,000 observations! Thank you so much everyone! Second, Kiarra @kiarra13 will be taking over our plant and pollinator of the month segments. She is completing her undergraduate honours project that focuses on meaningful science communication! I have the pleasure of mentoring them on this project and I am super excited for the work they are doing!

Without further ado, here is the plant of the month:

Symphyotrichum laeve, commonly known as Smooth Aster or Smooth Blue Aster, is a perennial wildflower in the daisy family (Asteraceae). There are 15 species of Symphyotrichum, commonly called American Asters, native to Alberta. The scientific name Symphyotrichum comes from the Greek words sympho and trichos, meaning ‘to grow together’ and ‘a single hair’ respectively. The scientific name laeve comes from the Latin word levis which means smooth. Their name comes from their appearance. They have hairless stems. The leaves are smooth, waxy and rubbery in texture and oblong in shape with either a smooth or serrated edge. The leaves have an alternate arrangement and clasp the stem. Smooth Blue Aster also has small flowers that consist of 15-30 purple-blue petals and form clusters on branches (panicle inflorescence). They bloom in full sun from late summer to early fall.

They are native to North America. They are currently distributed throughout the United States and Canada, from British Columbia to New Brunswick, and in Yukon. Smooth Blue Aster can be used to treat toothaches and fevers.

Smooth Blue Aster attracts butterfly and bee pollinators, including sweat bees, bumblebees, and leaf cutter bees. Having a late bloom time is especially important for bumble bee queens and migrating species. They also attract deers that graze on them. The plants then respond by increasing growth the next season.

purple aster flower iNaturalist Calgary Pollinators Project observation page

Publicado el 13 de octubre de 2023 17:27 por jdo77 jdo77 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

03 de octubre de 2023

October News

Hello Everyone!

Happy October! It's sure feeling like fall now!

We have ALMOST reached our goal of 10,000 observations by the end of summer 2023! We are at a total of 9,945 observations; only 55 to go! Upload your observations by October 31st 2023 to have them included in my urban plant-pollinator study.

Thank you to those who were able to make it out to our last pollinator walk of the year in September and thank you to everyone who came out to a pollinator walk this summer! I have really enjoyed the community pollinator walks and we hope to continue them next summer!

Each month we draw a prize winner for members of the project that contribute observations during the month. Our September prize winner is @lauraulthar , congratulations!

September 2023 Stats
Observations made: 310
Research grade identifications: 220
New members joined: 7

Enjoy a photo recap of our events and pollinator walks from 2023!

Publicado el 3 de octubre de 2023 02:43 por jdo77 jdo77 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

25 de septiembre de 2023

Pollinator of the Month: Skippers (Ochlodes)

Ochlodes, commonly known as skippers, is a genus in the butterfly family of skippers (Hesperiidae). They are named after their distinct flight pattern which consists of quick darting motions that bar resemblance to a skipping motion. There are 300 species of skippers native to Canada, and are distributed through every province and territory. Currently, there are 27 recognized species native to Alberta. One of the most common native species is the Woodland Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanoides). The European skipper (Thymelicus lineola) is classified as invasive to Alberta.

Skippers are found in a variety of habitats which include grasslands, prairies, open woodland, meadows, and anywhere else open grasses and flowers are present. Skippers feed on the nectar of a variety of flowers, facilitating pollination and reproduction of plants.

Adult skippers have stubby moth-like bodies, hook tipped antennae, and wings the same length as the body. Skipper wings are commonly orange, red, or brown in colour, and vary in patterning. The forewings are triangular shaped, and the hindwings are rounded. Some species have their wings spread, where others keep their hindwings in a more erect position so that they sit higher and more pronounced than the hindwings. Their eyes are large for their body size. The wingspan is typically 2.5-3.5 cm.

Male skippers will spend their time by patrolling an area for females, or they will simply perch and wait for a female to be nearby. After mating, the female skipper will lay her stringy eggs on a host plant that are commonly either broad leaf trees or bushes, or grasses. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae (caterpillars) will then feast on the leaves of the host plant. Young caterpillars can fall prey to lacewings, ants, and wasps. Most larvae will spin themselves into the leaves with silk to better protect themselves from the elements and predators while they gather enough energy to pupate. The caterpillars enter a state of inactivity (called diapause) in the winter, and regain activity in the spring and continue to feed and moult until they pupate. The adults emerge from their cocoons in the summer and begin to feed on nectar from a variety of flowers and will mate to produce a new generation.

brown and orange skipper butterfly on yellow flower brown and orange skipper butterfly on purple flower

Publicado el 25 de septiembre de 2023 14:17 por jdo77 jdo77 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

05 de septiembre de 2023

Plant of the Month: Goldenrod (Solidago)

Solidago, commonly known as goldenrod, is a genus of perennial plant in the daisy family (Asteraceae). The genus name ‘Solidago’ is derived from Latin and means “to heal or make whole” which is reflecting its use as a traditional herbal medicine. Goldenrod flowers and leaves can be dried or used fresh to make tea. The flowers are also edible and can be used as garnishes. Leaves are edible and spinach like and can be used in the same manner. Goldenrod is often used as a supplement for improving urinary health as well as reducing inflammation of the body.

The most common species of goldenrod native to and found in Alberta include Giant Goldenrod (S. gigantea), Missouri Goldenrod (S. missouriensis), Sticky Goldenrod (S. simplex), Alpine Goldenrod (S. multiradiata), and Elegant Goldenrod (S. lepida; previously S. canadensis - split into two new genera). The shape of the flower plumes, leaf shapes, hairiness, and flowering time vary between species. However, they can look quite similar, so when in doubt, just identify it as “Solidago.” All goldenrods have clusters of many small yellow daisy-like flowers at or near the top of their stem. Around Calgary, you will find goldenrod blooming from late July through September. Goldenrods are great native plants that support many pollinators.

Some goldenrod species, commonly S. gigantea, are parasitized by the goldenrod gall fly, Eurosta solidaginis. The larvae will eat the inner parts of the stem and secrete a chemical that triggers the plant to form a gall. The larvae will continue to eat the inner soft layer of the gall, overwinter in the gall, and then emerge as an adult in the late spring.

goldenrod goldenrod goldenrod

Publicado el 5 de septiembre de 2023 15:37 por jdo77 jdo77 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

01 de septiembre de 2023

September Update and Events

Hello Everyone!

Happy September, I hope everyone had a great summer!

Our last Pollinator Walk of 2023 will be held on Saturday September 9, 2023 from 12:00pm-1:30pm at Dale Hodges / Bowmont Park. Register for the event here.
We will have a small end of summer celebration with coffee and donuts to thank all of you who have come out to participate in community science this summer. Please let us know if you can make it. I feel very grateful to have had the opportunity to meet so many cool people this summer and cannot thank you enough for supporting my passion project and research.

I know there are quite a few new members that have joined us over the summer so I wanted to take a second to reintroduce myself. My name is Justine, I am a masters student studying at the University of Calgary. My project focuses on how plant-pollinator interactions are affected by urbanization and pollinator preferences for native or non-native plants. I am also looking into the benefits of community science; more to come on that in October!

As you know, each month I have draw a prize winner for members of the project that contribute observations during the month. Our August prize winner is @alacringa , congratulations!

August 2023 Stats
Observations made: 745
Research grade identifications: 356
New members joined: 16
We are at a total of 9,555 observations. Only 445 to go until 10,000!

Publicado el 1 de septiembre de 2023 17:58 por jdo77 jdo77 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

21 de agosto de 2023

Pollinator of the Month: Two Spotted Lady Beetle (Adalia bipunctata)

Adalia bipunctata, commonly known as the two-spotted lady beetle, is a species of beetle in the order Coleoptera. The species name ‘bipunctata’ is composed of the Latin prefix “bi,” meaning two, and “punctatus” meaning spotted. Two-spotted lady beetles are native to North America and are one of the 75 species of lady beetle present in Alberta. This includes introduced, invasive, and native species. The most common introduced species is the seven spotted lady beetle (Coccinella septempunctata). Some other examples of native lady beetles include the eye-spotted lady beetle (Anatis ocellata) and convergent lady beetle (Hippodamia convergens). Increased pressure and competition from introduced species is leading to the range of the two-spotted lady beetle to narrow.

Two-spotted lady beetles can act as pollinators when they seek shelter in flowers for short periods of time, known as accidental pollinators. Adults can overwinter by burrowing in fallen vegetation such as leaves, bark, and sticks. Two-spotted lady beetles can be found inhabiting grasslands, forests, rural, and urban environments. Both adults and larvae prefer to be in shrubs and trees, or any vegetation where there are small insects such as aphids, small insect eggs, and mites to feed on. Their life cycle starts with females laying their bright yellow eggs on the bottom of leaves in locations with sufficient food sources for the larvae. The eggs hatch into larvae which feed until they pupate, and then emerge in their adult form with wings.

Two-spotted lady beetles are 4-5 mm in length and ovoid in shape with 6 legs when at adult size. Their pigmentation and patterning is highly variable. However, the most commonly found form has orange/red elytra (wing cases) with two black spots on the centre of each elytra. The thorax and head are black with two large symmetrical white spots on the thorax, and two smaller symmetrical white spots on the head. The thorax also has two rounded white patches closer to the midline near the base of the elytra. The underside of the lady beetle is also all black.

two spotted lady beetle on a leaf

Publicado el 21 de agosto de 2023 17:20 por jdo77 jdo77 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario