Looking for a summertime pollinator activity? Help us hunt the range of the native squash bee!

Researchers are trying to determine the range of squash bees in the United States and are counting on citizen scientists to help by filling out data sheets.

Squash bees
Squash bees. Photo by Ben Phillips, MSU Extension.

The squash bee, Peponapis pruinosa, is a great pollinator of squashes, gourds and pumpkins. Squash blossoms are a source of food for foraging female bees and provide pollen for the young in their underground nests. For the male bees, squash blossoms act as a bed and breakfast—the male bees actually sleep in the flowers of squash plants! They spend so much time in the blossoms that the male bees are efficient pollinators along with the females (in most bee species the females do all the heavy lifting for pollination).

Squash bees have a long history with squash plants since both are native to North America. The spread of the squash bee seems to be linked to the spread of farmers and gardeners growing squash. You can learn more about the history of their spread in a great video by Margarita Lopez-Uribe.

Researchers are trying to determine the range of squash bees in the United States and are counting on citizen scientists to help. If you have vine crops in your garden, you can help us survey for these pollinators. Two labs are looking for data, so you can help by filling out two data sheets:

You can often find squash bees early in the morning on blossoms in your garden. To get familiar with what you are looking for, watch this video from the ARS lab and this video by Katharina Ullmann, view our resources on the MSU Vegetable Entomology website and check out these Bug Guide photos.

To learn more about squash bees:

For more information, visit MSU's Squash Bee Project page.


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