Author Gary Taylor

Gorgeous little male Megachile on a Banksia, love the big fluffy modified fore tarsi… (Tarsi is just the scientific word for the last major segment of an insect’s legs, in human terms ‘hind tarsi’ would be your shin section, ‘fore tarsi’ your forearms). And modified in that the males have evolved to have broad fluffy fore tarsi which they use to cover their “partner’s” eyes in what is often described as a “guess who?” sort of way during mating.

It’s theorised that covering her eyes may be to stop her getting distracted but yeah… dunno… kinda true I reckon but not in the way implied. Hey, call me a male but I’d like to think she’s already being distracted enough, and call me a romantic but I reckon that soft fur is more for dimming the lights a little and some gentle tenderness, no hard exoskeleton rubbing against her eyes… Ah, but I’ve seen them rub their own eyes you say, true, we all rub our own eyes, but try rubbing someone else’s during an intimate moment and see how well it goes… 😄 I bet it will be considered a lot more distracting and a lot less enjoyable than a nice soft fluffy barely covering the eyes blindfold… I imagine… 😇

Fore tarsi of a male Megachile bee © Gary Taylor

However… The reality is, and anybody who has witnessed it will testify, male bees aren’t big on courtship. Rarely does one actually take a girl out for a nice romantic candle lit dinner… And that’s not just ‘cos of our long hot dry spell and total fire ban, or that they’re all in bed by dusk, they just don’t have the time. 4 weeks to live and programmed to pass their DNA on they’re not even picky let alone considerate… Consent is not a factor, in some cases the males will emerge from their nursery chambers and wait outside the door for their sisters to emerge… yeah, I know… So I think if anything, the “guess who” term to those big blindfolding forearms is kinda true but it’s more a case of “you wont be able to identify me in a line up”… 😅
And I find it interesting that the soft dark oval patches on his fore tarsi are so very similar to the dark patches seen in the eyes… Coincidence? Perhaps there’s so much more we don’t understand…

Fore tarsi of a male Megachile bee © Gary Taylor

Anyway… With the temperature finally dropping to the low 30’s and actually being able to get out for a good walk without burning your feet and not being able to see anything anyway because of the sweat running into your eyes and dripping off your eyebrows onto your glasses that you can’t clean because there’s not a dry spot left on your shirt, we took a run out bush 😃 Just a quick couple hundred K run out to some places that would normally bee alive… Spent half an hour thoroughly investigating (several times) a patch of red-capped gums that normally would have been a concern as to whether I had enough battery power and disk space for all the pics I could take, and didn’t see one single native bee… I wasn’t expecting to see much but I was expecting to at least see something… We stopped at every flowering gum and there was still nothing… Perhaps the cyclone that smashed us here in the Midwest this time last year did more damage than we could see at the time… So we went to a “failsafe” spot of Banksias, a favourite of the Hylaeines and there’s always a bit of action going on… Walked for ages, climbed in amongst the scrub and up branches to get to the high flowers to check everywhere and in the whole area only saw one lonely little male Prosopisteron (a species I’ve already photographed many times) guarding his territory from no one… And this new little male Megachile

Fore tarsi of a male Megachile bee © Gary Taylor

Which brings me to my point, yes there is actually a point to this story 😄 Is your glass half full or half empty? Phhhfffttt, I tip it into a smaller glass and find it’s overflowing… Statistically 90% of the pics I took were new species… And I actually saw three of these gorgeous little Megachiles over an hour of hiking so technically three quarters of all the bees I saw are also new species for my albums (or at least the matching sock to one I’ve got)… 😆 Numerically that’s a pretty good day… 😅

Photographs © Gary Taylor