Photo of the Week – August 3, 2012

Still on the Niobrara Valley Preserve theme today, but not really strongly fire-related this time.

Leaf cutter bee (Megachile sp.) on plains sunflower (Helianthus petiolarus). The Nature Conservancy’s Niobrara Valley Preserve, Nebraska.  Click on the photo for a sharper look at it.

No, this isn’t some voracious predator waiting to ambush some hapless pollinator insect…it IS a pollinator insect.  More specifically, it’s a female leaf cutter bee.  I found her hanging out on an annual sunflower blossum in the early morning.  I’m not sure if she was warming up or resting or both?

Thanks to Mike Arduser for identifying the bee.  He guessed that it’s probably Megachile fortis – a specialist pollinator on sunflowers.