While July might have been the best month for bee diversity, August brings the best chance for rare species that can be identified from photos. In addition to the many fall specialists, there are numerous kleptoparasitic species active right now in the genera Epeolus, Triepeolus, Nomada, and Coelioxys. Look for stout bees with white or yellow bands on the abdomen. Many of the fall wildflowers (sunflowers, goldenrod, asters, etc) are starting to bloom and should be productive through September. There is an abundant and diverse group of goldenrod and aster specialists including members of Colletes, Andrena, Pseudopanurgus, Melissodes and Perdita.
Among the most wanted species for the state is Paranthidium jugatorium, an uncommon native sunflower specialist that has been photographed just a few miles over the NY border. And if you are lucky enough to have a fen near your house, late August is the beginning of the bloom for Fen Grass of Parnassus (Parnassia glauca) which is the host plant for another rare bee – Andrena parnassiae.
Finally, here are a few plants from previous months that should still be blooming:
- Thistles (especially the large flowered species) – Thistle Long-horned Bee (Melissodes despondus) which is relatively common, at least in the Champlain Valley. Also Osmia texana which is known from only one record (Centennial Woods in 1979).
- Native Loosestrifes (primarily Whorled and Fringed) – host to the rare genus of Oil-Collecting Bees (Macropis) found in Williston and Addison last summer (after many hours of searching). So far in 2020 we have added records for West Haven and Springfield.
- Pickerelweed – Two specialists in Vermont: Dufourea novaeangliae which is widespread and common, and Melissodes apicatus found last year in the larger marshes of Chittenden County.
- Evening Primroses (Oenothera) – Lasioglossum oenotherae a relatively large Lasioglossum with large ocelli for flying at low light when primroses are blooming.
- Physalis – Host to two Colletes, 1 Perdita, and 1 Lasioglossum. At least three of these bees have been found on cultivated tomatillos and ground cherries in VT, so might be in your garden!
Add your discoveries of all the bees you discover and photograph to the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist.