Monday Night Mystery

Ok, bug experts. Who is this charming little insect?


Points will be awarded for the first correct guess: five for family and five for genus.

The cumulative points winner for the month of July will win either 1) any 8×10 print from my insect photo gallery, or 2) a guest blog post on the (safe-for-work) topic of their choosing.


  1. #1 FormicidaeFantasy
    July 5, 2010


  2. #2 FormicidaeFantasy
    July 5, 2010


  3. #3 Kaitlin U
    July 5, 2010

    Is it vespidae, genus Monobia? A mason wasp?

  4. #4 JasonC.
    July 5, 2010

    Colletidae, Hylaeus (yellow-faced bee)

  5. #5 Morgan Jackson
    July 5, 2010

    I’m gonna have to guess Crabronidae, but I have no idea what genus it might be!

  6. #6 Joshua King
    July 5, 2010

    JasonC wins it. Alex, bug guide dot net makes these challenges too easy, by the way, as I’ve learned from teaching entomology. You should also require that your guessers provide supporting taxonomic reasoning for their guess. Or is that just way too nerdy?

  7. #7 JasonC.
    July 5, 2010

    I agree with Joshua; I do think that you need to at least explain how you arrived at the guess that you gave. I don’t think it’s really nerdy at all, it seems like common sense.

  8. #8 Warren
    July 5, 2010

    A few suggestions, Al:

    -NEVER post North American insects. This eliminates “the BugGuide advantage,” and also lets you showcase your travels around the world.
    -Never post full-body shots (always cropped). Here you could have used only the lower half of the photo, with the black-and-yellow leg being the main clue.
    -Never post something with a clear answer, like a leaf cut by bees. Instead, post a light scratch on a leaf, or a freshly killed but intact aphid, and ask “whodoneit?” There should be multiple plausible answers.

  9. #9 Ted C. MacRae
    July 5, 2010

    Easy for those who already have an inkling what it might be – someone starting from scratch would spend quite a bit of time browsing before coming up with the answer.

    The real challenge is getting here in time – it seems to be a popular challenge with lots of people watching their RSS feeds.

    Completely unrelated to the challenge, but the sort of thing that I always find interesting is a case of animal/plant homonymy in one of the subgenera of this bee genus – Prosopis. I kind of keep track of these things and wasn’t aware of this one.

  10. #10 macromite
    July 6, 2010

    I think requiring a rationale for an identification is reasonable, although if you restrict it to ‘taxonomic’ reasoning, the non-bug-nerd readers would be disadvantaged.

    Why wouldn’t ‘it looks like this picture on BugGuide’ be fair (if birdy)? Alex’s picture does look a lot like several pictures of yellow-masked bees on BugGuide – some of which are from Illinois. However, it is a very wasp-like bee, so an amateur could spend a long time searching wasps on BugGuide with no joy.

    I think Ted is right – speed and special knowledge rule here. Although this little charmer looks not unlike the Australian Banksia Bee Hylaeus alcyoneus, I would have been searching the wasps on BugGuide.

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