Curious circles

!!ximenia-americana-w-leaf-cutter-bee1
On our field trip to Captain Forster Preserve, we across curious circular cuts in the leaves of tallowwood (Ximenia americana), a plant of dry places both ancient beach (scrub) and current beach, pictured below at south Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area.

!!ximenia americana - small shrub copy

We learned about the ‘culprit’ at the last session of the 2015 Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory – Pelican Island Audubon Society volunteer nature stewardship class from Michelle Petersen, President of the Treasure Coast Beekeepers Association

!!2-28-2015-leaf-cutter-bee-slide

The culprits are leafcutter bees (Megachile sp.) …

In Florida there are approximately 63 species of leafcutter bees. Important pollinators, these solitary bees line their nest with the plant material that they so neatly cut out in circles. They construct their nests in soil, in pre-existing holes in wood, and in plant stems.

Unlike European honeybees, these solitary native bees are unlikely to sting, unless severely molested. You can learn more about leafcutter bees at the Featured Creatures website maintained by the University of Florida Department of Entomology and Nematology.

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