Random Nature Encounters and Stories

Whoa, look at the eyes on that guy !


I thought they were beautiful too! Since I didn’t end up getting bit I think it was ultimately worth the risk just for that!


I have no idea. I think that was the first time we encountered the raccoon.

Last summer I found a moth that I later discovered was part of a species complex and it could only be ID’d down to species by examining its underside. I didn’t get a photo of the underside so it’s forever stuck at the genus level. I finally spotted another one last night and thought “Yes! Another chance to see one and take more photos! I can do it right this time!"
It flew away before I could get even a single shot of it. I think I’m cursed or something. :(

Nearly a year later, the curse is lifted!


Or you discovered you’re not cursed at all.


I consider this random and amazingly lucky (like I might have used up all remaining “nature luck” for the year today).

Short backstory: I monitor my pollinator/native plant/xeriscape garden for critters and my goal is to document as many species as possible. Last year was the first year I was exposed to many insects for the first time, including wedge-shaped beetles (Ripiphoridae).

So, I’m out in the garden this morning watching the longhorn and sweat bees, paper and sand wasps, etc. There wasn’t anything exciting for a while and I’m about to head inside when I saw this:

(Quick comment: between my camera skills, slight wind, body color/position, and the morning sun angle, none of the pictures are ‘perfect’ - darn! I would have loved to capture a video of his funny front legs flailing as he tries to stroke her antennae.)

What do we have here? Thanks for asking! This is a pair of Ripiphorus neomexicanus. The species is known from 2 specimens in 1921, 1 other specimen pre-1929, 3 specimens in 1970, and 4 sets of photographs in my garden. This interaction today is:

  • the 1st male Ripiphorid I’ve seen in person
  • the 1st time I’ve seen mating Ripiphorids in person (goes with 1st male)
  • the 7th time I’ve seen any Ripiphorids in person
  • and, I dare say, the 1st time this species has ever been observed mating

After the male was done with his duty and flew off, she spent a few minutes ovipositing:


Where was the female ovipositing? What a cool observation!

In my area, she lays eggs in Xanthisma spinulosum flower buds (spiny goldenweed). I’ve seen iNat observations on desert marigold, California buckwheat, fleabane, and more. After they hatch, first instar larvae hitch a ride to underground sweat bee nests when the host is foraging for pollen.


What??!! Can you tell me more about its life cycle? What happens when the larva gets into the nest? And why are they so selective with the flower buds they lay eggs on?
This is so interesting and I have no idea about it, please tell me more.

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How is that possible if that beetle has only three observations?

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In the rest of the family, not just this species.

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Oooh, oh, thanks for clarifying that.

Check out the information and links here Genus Ripiphorus - BugGuide.Net. They are selective about flowers to target specific host bees. I don’t know how this information is encoded from one generation to the next, but I wish I did because they are really good at picking the right flowers. In fact, I’ve seen another species of Ripiphorus and a species of Orasema (chalcid wasp) ovipositing on other goldenweed flower buds https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/127259631. Ripiphorus neomexicanus, that I posted here, most likely parasitizes Dieunomia nevandensis ssp arizonensis (aka Arizona Nomia bees). As a ground-nesting bee parasite, it would require a clever researcher to document the full life cycle.


I did not even knew about it’s existence, I wonder if they are like cuckoo bees, eating the bee larva’s food until starving the host or they directly kill the host.
But now I learned sonething new today!

And it seems your garden is a very interesting place too btw.

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Wow. Just WOW!!


Great story!

What?! I recently had that thing too. A month ago, in my trip to West Mexico I stayed in Zacatecas for a weekend in a house in a rural area. So all around the place there were acorn woodpeckers, they were surprisingly abundant and I instantly fell in love with them, they are so cute and colorful, and smart, and social. So I had the crazy idea to try to feed them by hand. I knew I had very little time so it was going to be very difficult. So I just tried and tried to give them acorns, and let them acorns on fences (but they were throwing them to rat dens on the ground), and I was getting closer and closer to them, until… nothing happened and I had to leave and i couldn’t feed the woodpeckers.

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Last Tuesday, I visited Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, where I was licked by a hoverfly and licked and stung by a plasterer bee (accidentally pinched her shifting my fingers). I passed through the same area yesterday and stopped for more pictures among the endless fields of Verbesina, Ericameria, Helianthus, and Grindelia. By the end, I had been landed on and licked by no less than 4 Colletes, 1 Sphecid wasp, 1 Syrphid, 2 other flies, and a male Anthidium. So much fun!


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