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Which Pseudomasaris? - Pseudomasaris vespoides - female

Which Pseudomasaris? - Pseudomasaris vespoides - Female
Claremont, Los Angeles County, California, USA
April 28, 2013
Last fall we dug up a section of our yard that had been planted with dwarf peaches, roses, and star jasmine, and planted flowering Southern California natives, including several types of Penstemon, Desert Bluebells (Phacelia campanularia), Deerweed (Acmispon glaber), and other plants that aren't blooming yet. I had hoped to attract native bees and butterflies, but I wasn't sure how quickly they would come (or if they would come at all) as we aren't that close to any natural areas. I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of different native bees have already appeared, and then to my even greater surprise, this Pseudomasaris showed up!

I never saw this wasp on any flowers; it just hovered continually over a bare spot. It came and went several times on the day I first noticed it and again the next day. It few away when I tried to get close with my macro lens, so I used a long lens and high "ISO" to try capture it while it was hovering. Eventually it did light on the ground for a while, but it flew away when I moved around to try to photograph the face.

Can anyone tell which species this is?

Images of this individual: tag all
Which Pseudomasaris? - Pseudomasaris vespoides - female Which Pseudomasaris? - Pseudomasaris vespoides Which Pseudomasaris? - Pseudomasaris vespoides

Nice -
Female vespoides. She's picking up material for her nest cells. Look for her in your Penstemon, i.e. the blue/ purplish ones like heterophyllus, spectabilis, etc.
Moved from Pseudomasaris.

Thanks for the ID and letting me know what she's doing. I have a several plants of blue/purple Penstemon, both P. spectabilis and P. heterophyllus, but I haven't seen the P. vespoides on any of them. At the field station, we've usually seen P. vespoides on P. spectabilis.

I wonder if she'll build a nest in our yard. We do have a lot of rocks.

P. vespoides
puts her nest cells mostly on plant stems. An example:

Aha! The nests I've seen on rocks (and one on an aluminum boat) must belong to other Pseudomasaris species. I'll keep an eye out. I know which direction she flew when she left our yard.

so cool
Thanks for sharing the details. I am always interested in hearing the story as well as seeing the photos and learning more about taxonomy. Up here at the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers in an urban environment I too have been planting more and more natives and seeing an uptick in both number and diversity of invertebrate species. So cool....

You're welcome!
It's great that you're planting natives, too. I will be posting more photos of insects from my garden (the next one is here), and I am thinking about whether to try convince our neighbors to plant more natives to create a whole bee-friendly block.

Yay for awesome neighbors
All but one of my immediate neighbors loves wildlife so have pretty friendly gardens. One set of neighbors does actually also plant for invertebrates too. Between us we have about 3/4s of an acre - which is about 1/2 natives and 1/2 fruit trees/human food plants. So that's a lot of habitat in a city! Best of all we leave dead wood around.

My cool non-wasp sighting is a little bee collecting pollen off the Lupinus rivularis is a most fascinating way. I'm familiar with how the bombus work lupines but this is really different.(I think it must be a megchilid.) I have a crappy slow camera and it moves quickly but I am hoping to get a picture for id at some point.

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