Andrena tibialis

Andrena tibialis is not very colourful. Like the others it is a springtime species, often seen resting on a leaf, taking a sun bath. Dandelions are its favourite food plants. Like many spring time creatures the best days to photograph it is on a cooler day with sunshine. The animals seek places in the sun to get warm and many are quite approachable. Andrena tibialis is a somewhat smaller species, usually reaching a size of some 7 or 8 mm. The animal is quite hairy, but not strikingly so, for the hairs end in a much lighter colour than they start. The species is found all over Europe, though its status is a bit obscure. Probably Andrena tibialis is a very local species. However there where it accurs it may be almost abundant.

In the bottom pictures is a mating couple. Nothing special by itself, but if you look carefully you can see the female has a parasite. It is the little pinkish thing sticking out of het just before the front leg of the male. The parasites name is Stylops melittae and it is a so-called Stylopid (Strepsiptera). This is an order of small insects, living a parasitic life in certain insects. They are found in cockroaches, certain bees and bugs. The females stay inside their host all their life and even being adult look more like a larva than an adult insect. The males develop fully and are able to fly. They only live for a few hours, in which time they have to find a female to mate. Bees with a parasite usually behave differently from healthy bees and often are sterile, even though the parasite doesn't kill its victim.