Andrena caratonica with Stylops Parasite

20th April 2012
I saw this Andrena Mining Bee on a leaf and pulled the leaf down for a closer look. The bee stayed on the leaf and I was able to view it through my camera. I could see that the bee was infected with a female Stylops parasite, so focussed on that for this image.

Stylopised bees are often a bit docile and therefore particularly amenable to photography. Unfortunately, this one fell off the leaf and I was unable to find it! It's Andrena caratonica (Andrena scotica) and it's the third stylopised one that I've photographed this year. In fact, I haven't photographed any non-stylopised ones yet. (see my earlier BLOG post).

The female Stylops fly doesn't develop wings or typical adult fly characteristics, but remains in this flattened form that protrudes through the bee's abdominal segments (tergites). The males also develop in host bees, but they emerge from their pupa and fly free (you can sometimes see the empty pupal cases between the tergites, when this has happened), looking for other infected bees. They then mate with any Stylops females.

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