Monday Night Mystery

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

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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 8x10 print from my insect photo gallery, or 2) a guest blog post on the (safe-for-work) topic of their choosing.

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What's this? 2 points for naming the structure, 4 for family, and 4 for genus/species. The cumulative points winner for the month of May will win either 1) any 8x10 print from my insect photo galleries, or 2) a guest blog post on the (safe-for-work) topic of their choosing.
This looks like it could be painful. What is it? Five points to the first person to name the organism, and five for the structure. The cumulative points winner for the month of May will win either 1) any 8x10 print from my insect photo gallery, or 2) a guest blog post on the (safe-for-work) topic…
Ok. Now you guys have asked for it. Apparently the mysteries haven't been quite obscure enough. So here you go. A real challenge: One point for order, three points for family, three points for genus, and three for species. Points are awarded for the first correct guess in each category. The…
What is this odd little beast? Five points each for the first person to pick the order and the family. The cumulative points winner for the month of May will win either 1) any 8x10 print from my insect photo galleries, or 2) a guest blog post on the (safe-for-work) topic of their choosing.

Vespidae?

By FormicidaeFantasy (not verified) on 05 Jul 2010 #permalink

Polistes?

By FormicidaeFantasy (not verified) on 05 Jul 2010 #permalink

Is it vespidae, genus Monobia? A mason wasp?

By Kaitlin U (not verified) on 05 Jul 2010 #permalink

Colletidae, Hylaeus (yellow-faced bee)

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?

By Joshua King (not verified) on 05 Jul 2010 #permalink

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.

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.

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.

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.