The viceroy butterfly appears similar in color and pattern, but is markedly smaller and has an extra black stripe across the hind wing.
The eastern North American monarch population is notable for its annual southward late-summer/autumn migration from the United States and southern Canada to Mexico.
During the fall migration, it covers thousands of miles, with a corresponding multi-generational return North.
The western North American population of monarchs west of the Rocky Mountains most often migrate to sites in California but have been found in overwintering Mexico sites Monarchs were transported to the International Space Station and were bred there.
EUROPEAN BEEWOLVES: wasps that preys on bees, harbor symbiotic Streptomyces bacteria in specialized antennal reservoirs.
The bacteria are secreted into the wasps’ lair, later taken up by the wasp larva and applied to the larval cocoon where they produce antibiotics to protect the wasp offspring against pathogenic fungi.
Beneficial partnerships between microbes and animals like the European beewolf have inspired a rich body of research into the bioactive products of host-microbe interactions, which could have purpose in medicine and disease prevention.
CREDIT: Sabrina Koehler, Postdoc, Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology
Native blue-banded bees. (Credit: Fish Fidler/Flickr)
by Becky Crew
Becky Crew is a Sydney-based science communicator with a love for weird and wonderful animals. From strange behaviours and special adaptations to newly discovered species and the researchers who find them, her topics celebrate how alien yet relatable so many of the creatures that live amongst us can be.
This has to be one of the prettiest bees in the world.
Named for the beautiful turquoise bands that run across its abdomen, the blue-banded bee (Amegilla cingulate) sports a lush golden and white fluff, enormous green eyes, and tan-coloured wings that look like crisp layers of cellophane.
Males can be distinguished from females by the number of blue bands they display – males have five while the females have just four.
Adult blue-banded bees typically grow to between 10mm and 12mm.
The species is found all over Australia, except in Tasmania and the Northern Territory.
It’s also native to Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, East Timor, Malaysia, and India, so it enjoys a pretty healthy range, spreading out everywhere from urban areas to open fields and dense, tropical forests.
It’s rumoured they’re attracted to blue and purple flowers, perhaps because they could blend into their surroundings when collecting pollen from them, but this has yet to be proven.
They are known to frequent lavender plants, however, and according to the Australian Museum, they appear to be attracted to people in blue clothing. But it’s cool because these bees are non-abrasive, and don’t move around in intimidating swarms like other species, they live solitary lives in little burrows in the soil or the crevices of rocks.