A Most Unusual Photo

Jun 1, 2016

It's an incredible photo.

Nicole "Nikki" Nicola, a staff research associate in the Frank Zalom lab in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, University California, Davis, captured an image in her back yard of both the male and female Valley carpenter bee (Xylocopa varipuncta) sharing the same passionflower (Passiflora).

Most of us often see--and hear--the solid black female, but not so much the green-eyed blond male. And rarely together.

But to see them on the same flower? What a great example of sexual dimorphism!


Nicola works with Zalom, an integrated pest management specialist and distinguished professor of entomology. A noted entomologist, he is a  past president of the 7000-member Entomological Society of America.

As for those Valley carpenter bees, the next time you see the female frequenting the Passiflora, check out those tiny grains of golden pollen. They look for all the world like gold dust.

Valley carpenter bees are found in the Central Valley and southern California, Arizona, New Mexico and southward through Mexico, according to native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis.