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ARS Home » Plains Area » Sidney, Montana » Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory » Pest Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #402744

Research Project: Biological Control and Habitat Restoration for Invasive Weed Management

Location: Pest Management Research

Title: Uninvited guests: Identifying parasites and other nest associates of solitary bees and wasps using artificial nest sites in north central Florida

item GRAHAM, JASON - University Of Florida
item Campbell, Joshua
item ELLIS, JAMES - University Of Florida

Submitted to: Southeastern Naturalist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/15/2023
Publication Date: 6/3/2023
Citation: Graham, J.R., Campbell, J.W., Ellis, J.D. 2023. Uninvited guests: Identifying parasites and other nest associates of solitary bees and wasps using artificial nest sites in north central Florida. Southeastern Naturalist. 22(2):192-206.

Interpretive Summary: Many bees and wasps utilize dead wood and hollow stems of plants for nesting habitat. Providing human-made or artificial materials for cavity nesting bees/wasps has not only become a popular novelty but also a potential conservation tool. Despite this, there is a lack of knowledge regarding the best materials to use to construct artificial nesting cavities and which types of materials potentially increase parasites to invade. We tested three different artificial nest sites (cedar posts, wood blocks, and tube holders made of different materials) in north-central Florida to determine if any of these materials increase parasitism among inhabited cavities. We found that 15% of our total bee/wasp inhabited cavities contained parasites. The most common parasites were various flies and parasitic wasps. The different materials attracted a wide array of bees/wasps, which in turn attracted a different parasite suite.

Technical Abstract: Stored food and developing brood are attractive to parasitic arthropod invaders that exploit the industry of solitary hymenopterans. In this study, we collected and identified arthropod invaders of artificial nest sites designed for and used by solitary bees (Hymenoptera: superfamily Apoidea) and wasps (Hymenoptera: superfamilies Chrysidoidea and Vespoidea). We hypothesized that artificial nests made with different materials would attract different bees/wasps, thus attracting different arthropod invaders. We constructed three different types of artificial nest sites to test this hypothesis: 1) cedar posts with drilled holes, 2) wood blocks with drilled holes, and 3) tube holders made of four different materials (plastic, cardboard, bamboo, paper). We collected parasitic arthropods emerging from the nests weekly for three years. Annual nesting and emergence data were plotted for each species that invaded >10 bee/wasp nests and the yearly/seasonal nesting trends are presented for each parasite species. In total, arthropod invaders emerged from 265 or 15% of the viable bee or wasp constructed nests (N= 1,765). Of the 265 parasitized nests, six (2.3%) were parasitized by mites, 20 (7.5%) were parasitized by beetles, 86 (32.5%) were parasitized by flies, 139 (52.4%) were parasitized by wasps, and 14 (5.2%) were parasitized by bees. Different types of nesting material attracted different abundances and species/genera of invaders. These results provide a baseline for future comparisons of the parasitism rates of nests made by tunnel nesting, solitary bees and wasps in North Central Florida and give perspectives on successful materials to use for trap nests.