Wool Carder Bees

Silene coronaria

Mullein Pink

I saw an insect in my yard today that I did not recognize. Hovering as if it were a fly, it darted around a Mullein Pink (Silene coronaria). When it landed I could see it was a bee of some type; however, bees are not normally this jumpy or skittish. It rolled the Mullein Pink’s white, felt-like fuzz into a little ball. Eventually it flew away carrying the ball gripped in four of its legs. If alarmed, it flew off abandoning its little rolled ball.

Silene coronaria

Abandoned ball of plant fuzz – L                                      Stem of Mullein Pink showing fuzz – R

It was a European Wool Carder Bee (Anthidium manicatum) gathering plant material from a species which naturally grew within its native range. They pack their brood cells with plant hairs, add pollen and nectar, then lay an egg. They nest in a pre-existing cavity or on a building.

Anthidium manicatum

Wool Carder Bee collecting plant material from Mullein Pink

This species is black and yellow and could be confused with a Yellowjacket. Wool Carder Bees have more black than a Yellowjacket, orange legs, and tend to hold their wings over their abdomen.  Also, they are solitary bees not social nesters like Yellowjackets.

Insects are fascinating to observe. They are diverse and I still find new species in my yard, even after 25-years. I wonder where the nest is.


Copyright 2017 by Donald Drife

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