Things aren’t always what they seem.
A sweat bee resting calmly on a leaf might be a bit sluggish from the cool autumn air, or there might be something else going on.
As I was photographing this halictid from a front angle, I noticed an extra pair of wings on the abdomen. As I changed my angle of orientation, I beheld a rare treat – a male twisted-wing parasite (Strepsiptera: Stylopidae) – positioned atop the bee’s abdomen.
Either the strepsipteran had just emerged from its pupa, tucked beneath a tergite, or he was mating with a hidden female in that location. Either way, the male left his spot and took flight from one of the sweat bee’s hind legs.
The whole episode passed quickly but the experience, to me, was priceless.