Author Gary Taylor ◦
Standing by my BeeTown, watching the Meroglossa rubricata coming and going, I noticed a little white dot pulsating in the darkness of a nest… I knew what it was so I snuck in with my camera and flash for a better look… Cool, never seen one with a white bubble before… Usually crystal clear if it’s straight nectar or cloudy yellow if it’s mixed with pollen (generally they favour the abundantly flowering Calistemons and huge Pink flowering gum only a few seconds flight from their home), perhaps this one is just travelling a bit further, feeding on something with white pollen…
But something’s not sitting right… The “bubble”… I’ve taken heaps of pics of all sorts of native bees bubbling and you can usually see the lines of the meniscal forces in the liquid where it’s attached to the jaws and mouthparts holding it.
In the first pic the “bubble” appears to have a non-liquid “skin”, the jaws don’t seem to be even breaking the surface, the shadow is more like that of a balloon being held gently… That’s whats wrong, the light… Flash usually disperses in a liquid bubble. The way it bounces around and reflects back gives you a perception of the internal contents, in these pics the light reflexion/refraction is too sharp. It’s more like what you’d expect from a solid but flexible surface…
And then there’s the second pic where (you might have to zoom in a bit) the labrum (kinda the top lip) is distended so far it appears to be detached from the rest of the clypeus (front of the face).
Then in the 3rd pic it actually appears to be part of surface of the “bubble”… Dunno, a gland sac in the mouth that produces the secretions she uses to line her nest? No idea, perhaps it’s an optical illusion but I’m not convinced this is your normal run of the mill bubbling… 🙂
Check out the other blogs in this Meroglossa rubricata series:
an awesome “Commando roll” | Ruby… bubbling | Ruby and the wasp | Party at the nest | red is the weakest, the first to fade in low light | A white bubble
Footnote & References
- Blogs by Gary Taylor, Images © Gary Taylor