Chamisa pollinators..black???

cactusgardenNovember 18, 2010

Hi,

I have a large Chamisa that was covered with hundreds and hundreds of swarming black butterfly type insects pollinating the flowers this fall. It was quite a sight! They didn't look like typical butterflies, at least nothing I have seen before. They were about 1/2 inch across and had very black wings. Anybody know what these were? The bush was swarming with them, buzzing around it like crazy and they weren't on anything else, just the Chamisa. I've never seen this in Oklahoma before and wondered if it was common in their native habitat.

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nmgirl(8 S.NM)

Around here chamisa is popular with several of the native wasps & bees.
You use the phrase " butterfly type" yet mention "swarming and buzzing". Sounds more like hymenoptera behavior instead of lepidoptera.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2010 at 10:52AM
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cactusgarden

You're right, now that I think about it, they acted more like bees but didn't fly anything like wasps do around here. They had sort of tear-drop shaped wings that were very opaque and velvety deep black but much wider than a wasp's wings. Their heads were black on the very tip, then bright red with a sort of shoulder part that was yellow with black antennae and black legs. There was a blooming Russian sage close by and they completely ignored it and everything else that was blooming and just seemed frantic over the Chamisa. I tried to post a picture but it was too many DPI or a Jpeg or something and it wouldn't post.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2010 at 2:56AM
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nmgirl(8 S.NM)

Now I'm intrigued.
Your comment on the insects ignoring the Perovskia yet swarming over the chamisa made me think they aren't actively pollinating. There are paper wasps that come close to matching the description you gave. These gals really work Fall blooming plants such as goldenrod and chamisa for those final few larvae and insects of the year. Gotta feed the kids back at the nest you know.
Did you try to post the photo directly from your 'puter or did you go through an online photo site, i.e. Flicker, Photobucket?
Would love to see a photo of the insects and your blooming chamisa. Great plant!

    Bookmark   November 22, 2010 at 12:04PM
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