need help identifying a bug
Help! We must have 100’s of what looks like anthills in our yard , but instead of ants coming out of them, we have these flying insects. They are good flyers and at this point, about 1 cm. Photo 2 is the whole
creature and 1 is a close up of the head. We live in Northern Virginia outside DC. Any help would be appreciated.

Hi Jerry,
We wrote to Eric Eaton for some clarification on this, and he gave us this lengthy response:
“Neato! This person is privileged to be hosting large numbers of plasterer bees, genus Colletes, family Colletidae. They are solitary, each female excavating her own burrow, which branches into several cells underground. The bees get their common name from the fact that the female bee secretes from her body a natural polymer (that’s right, PLASTIC), with which she coats the inside of each cell. She makes a nectar and pollen “soup” that pools in the bottom, and she suspends a single egg from the ceiling. The larva that hatches feeds on the soup, which is kepf fresh and mold-free in the plastic baggie! Cool, huh? Colletes are among the many, many species of native, solitary bees we have in the U.S., and they are extremely valuable in pollinating wildflowers, as well as crops like alfalfa, cranberries, blueberries, and squashes that the non-native honey bees do not pollinate as efficiently, if at all. Plasterer bees are only locally common, so your “colony” may be the only one for miles, certainly the only one in the neighborhood.
Hope that helps.

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