Loose Debris Plugs & their Bugs

Loose Debris plug made by Anthidium manicatum in Windsor

Loose Debris plug made by Anthidium manicatum in Windsor

Sticks, and stones, and broken bones, that’s what my nest plug is made of…

The plug type that we are focusing on for this week’s “Plugs & Bugs” is Loose Debris.  In all of our other P&B posts we have talked about plugs that are very sturdy in their construction – plugs fit for fortresses.  This week’s plug seems less secure.  Loose Debris is easily moved or re-moved.  Still, it seems to work in many cases, at least as long as necessary for the young inside to mature.

What is Loose Debris? It’s little bits of organic and inorganic matter that the wasps or bees collect one piece at a time.  It’s not just stick and stones, but seeds, withered anthers, mud clods, bark bits, and even the occasional broken piece of a dead insects.

We have two very different kinds of insects that make loose debris plugs – a wasp (Solierella) and a bee (Anthidium).  Both these genera can have multiple generations per summer here in Colorado.  It is very difficult to tell if a loos debris nest plug has emerged (or has a “hole” in it).  If a lot of the material disappears, record it as having a hole in the plug.

Solierella sp. reared from a nest in Longmont

Solierella sp. reared from a nest in Longmont

Solierella sp. are small, slightly stocky, charcoal grey to black wasps.  There are about a dozen species in Colorado and at least two different species that nest in our blocks.  One of these species nests in the smaller diameter tunnels and provisions their nests with hatchling grasshoppers.  Another species nests in the medium size tunnels and provisions with true bugs (order Hemiptera).  They use loose debris not only for nest plugs, but also for walls that separate the reproductive cells.

Bark bits in Solierella loose debris nest plugs

Bark bits in a Solierella loose debris nest plug

Spent flower parts in Solierella loose debris nest plugs

Spent flower parts in a Solierella loose debris nest plug

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A female Solierella works on her nest plug

A female Solierella works on her nest plug

A seed and organic parts in a Solierella loose debris nest plug

A seed and organic material in a Solierella loose debris nest plug

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A female Anthidium foraging

A female Anthidium foraging

Anthidium sp. are the wool-carder bees.  These are the species that line their cells, and often plug their nests with white, cottony, plant fuzz.  Thanks to our volunteers, we’ve learned that some Anthidium plug their nests with sticks and stones after they have completed their pillowy cells.  (Other Anthidium plug with just plant fuzz.)  These nests are built in the tunnels with the largest diameters.  Sometimes the males spend the night in the bee blocks.  Zzzzz Zzzzz.  During the day, the territorial males can be seen “patrolling” flower patches.

Anthidium manicatum nest plug in 1/2" diameter tunnel

Anthidium manicatum loose debris nest plug in a 1/2″ diameter tunnel

 

A different Anthidium nest plug made exclusively of plant fuzz, not capped off with loose debris

A different Anthidium nest plug made exclusively of plant fuzz, not capped off with loose debris

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This entry was posted in 2015, Nest Plugs, Plugs and Bugs, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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