BioBlitz Series - Hymenoptera

Bee on flower
Bee on flower

Photo: Beatriz Moisset

Near-perfect weather helped the Hymenoptera blitz at SERC (the Schoodic Education and Research Center) at Acadia National Park to be a success by almost any standard. About 70 people turned out to collect, pin, label and identify Hymenoptera, led by Ellie Groden and Frank Drummond of the University of Maine, and Sam Droege of the U. S. Geological Survey.

In early counts, with catches from numerous pan traps and Berlese funnel samples still remaining to be examined, there were already some 20 ant species in 10 genera known, with the number expected to rise to around 30 in the final count. (For comparison, the 2003 Ant Blitz on Mount Desert Island recorded a total of 44 species.)

Although only two were overwhelmingly dominant in the counts, there were at least eight species of bumblebees recorded in a bee fauna of over 30 species, that was expected to rise to at least 40 as more of the unknowns were identified; one highlight in this regard was the discovery of what could be a previously undescribed species of bee.

Perhaps surprisingly, despite the proximity of numerous homes to the park collecting sites, not a single European honeybee (Apis mellifera) was encountered in the blitz. The bee diversity was also quite surprising, inasmuch as the Schoodic Peninsula is predominantly spruce forest (not generally good bee habitat), and there are only some 70 species of bees known from the entire state of Maine.

Wasps were numerous and diverse, with Ichneumonidae, Braconidae, Vespidae and the Chalcidoidea being major groups represented. A tremendous amount of work remains to be done on this highly diverse assemblage, and experts are being ferreted out to help with specific groups. Over 100 Hymenopteran species were collected in this year's efforts. View a report of detailed results...

Participants at 2010 Acadia Hymenoptera BioBlitz
Participants at the 2010 Hymenoptera Blitz; this event had the largest attendance of any previous Acadia National Park BioBlitz.

Photo: David Manski

Though the dates and group to be targeted for 2011 have not yet been set, there was some discussion of re-visiting the Lepidoptera, previously covered in the second blitz in 2004. That blitz, however, was scheduled in mid-June, too early for some species to have emerged, and was also hampered by cool and wet conditions.

There was also discussion of assembling a publication of some sort, documenting what has been learned of the insect fauna of the Park as it has been expanded by the Blitzes over the years. Discussions on this topic and the 2011 Blitz plans will undoubtedly go forward over the late fall and winter months. Updated information will be reported in The Maine Entomologist as it becomes available.

Sorting specimens at 2010 Acadia Hymenoptera BioBlitz
The lab at SERC was very busy into the wee hours of Sunday morning as people sorted, pinned and labeled specimens that had been collected Saturday afternoon and evening.

Photo: Alecia Fortier

Everyone agreed that the National Park Service/SERC Institute crew did an outstanding job of facilitating the event once again, despite major construction projects currently underway at the facilities.

(Text reprinted by permission from the Maine Entomological Society Newsletter, Vol. 14, No. 3, August 2010).

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