What pollinators are flying?
With Halloween just around the corner, many of us are indulging in a variety of seasonal tastes and activities. Whether that be sipping a spiced up bowl of butternut squash soup or carving an imperfect masterpiece into a pumpkin. Take a moment to thank a squash bee. They are key pollinators of pumpkin, gourd and squash plants.
The squash bee is slightly larger than a honey bee and covered with dense hairs. The thorax is mostly pale orange and the abdomen has white bands. The squash bee is found throughout North America from the east coast to the west coast and down into Mexico. Its range has expanded as human agriculture continues to spread and squashes and gourds in the genus Cucurbita become more widespread.
Look at your squash’s flowers during the first few hours after sunrise. Male squash bees will be darting between flowers, searching for mates. The squash bee is most active during the summer when most Cucurbita plants are blooming. Female squash bees carry their pollen dry in a brush of hairs on their hind legs. Squash bees are considered non-social but are oftentimes gregarious ground-nesters.