Monday Night Mystery

Something took a bite out of this leaf:

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What was it?

Three points for the taxonomic order of the culprit, five for family, and two for explaining the natural history. Points are awarded only for the first correct guess in each category. And maybe some extra ones if you get creative with the natural history.

The cumulative points winner for the month of June 2010 will get their choice of 1) any 8x10 print from my photo galleries; or 2) a guest post on the safe-for-work topic of their choice.

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Leaf Cutter Bee!

By MrILoveTheAnts (not verified) on 21 Jun 2010 #permalink

Mega Chili... err Megachilidae.

By MrILoveTheAnts (not verified) on 21 Jun 2010 #permalink

Hymenoptera: Megachilidae (probably genus Megachile)
Uses leaf or petal fragment to line and separate individual cells of larvae provisioned with a pollen ball each.

By James C. Trager (not verified) on 21 Jun 2010 #permalink

Yep, leafcutter bees. They don't eat the cut pieces, but use them to fashion cells in tunnels of their nest constructed in wood cavities or the ground. They provision the cells with pollen, lay an egg, and seal with a cut piece of leaf.

Hymenoptera: Megachilidae (probably genus Megachile)
Uses leaf or petal fragment to line and separate individual cells of larvae provisioned with a pollen ball each.

By James C. Trager (not verified) on 21 Jun 2010 #permalink

Order Mammalia, Family Hominidae, specifically Homo sapiens. Looks like someone has been collecting leaf punches for a choice assay.

As others have pointed out, Megachilidae. I'm agnostic as to the Megachile classification, but that's as good as any given the evidence at hand.

What's little known is that the Megachilidae consider leaves to be their own personal bitches. Apart from sealing larval cells, the megachilidae expect leaves to work for a goddamn living and bring back a little sumthin'-sumthin' unless they want a bee to go whack on their ass.

"This ain't the Ritz Carlton, you skeevy dicotoledonous organ! You live in my tree, you do things my way. Where's my pollen? Where is my god-damn pollen? I'll cut you up! I'll cut you up to seal my larva!"

And thus, nature in her infinite wisdom teaches us yet another valuable lesson about life.

(Without looking at any of the above comments)

Looks like the work of a leaf cutting bee (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae) to me! Females nest in hollow twigs or stems, cut these round pieces of leaf with their mandibles, and use them to line the larval nest cells.

I once saw one nest in a hollow plastic tube that formed a perch in one of my mother-in-law's bird feeders. We watched "BTV" all morning!

By Julie Stahlhut (not verified) on 22 Jun 2010 #permalink

Aw man! I finally knew the answer to one of these and was too slow to be numero uno... Oh well. These bees ransack my rosebushes every year, the little bums, but they're so cute it's hard not to love them anyway. I'm always impressed by their speed too - they cut those circles out SO quickly!