Flying insects that live underground

Written by alexis rohlin
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Flying insects that live underground
Yellow jackets build nests in the ground. (John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Several species of bees and wasps live in underground nests. Bees and wasps build their nests in abandoned rodent burrows and tunnels that they find in the ground. Some, like the mining bee, will dig out their own tunnels and build their nests in them. Flying ants also start their lives underground.

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The stinging wasps known as yellowjackets have thick yellow bands over their black abdomens. The faces are also yellow and black face. Yellowjackets live in large social nests built in rodent burrows, small holes and soil depressions. The female wasp mixes its saliva with wood fibres to create the paper comb layers of the ball-shaped underground nest. The layers of combs consist of hollow tubelike structures. When the workers reach their adult form, they dig out and enlarge the entrance of the hole and expand the nest.

Mining Bees

Mining bees are small bumblebees native to the United Kingdom. Their black bodies are covered with stripes and fox-red coloured hairs. Mining bee females dig 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch diameter cylindrical tunnels in shaded and loose sandy soil with little vegetation or plant life. They make cone-shaped mounds of soil at the entrance of their tunnels, similar to those found at the entrance of ant colony tunnels. Queen mining bees make chambers at the end of the tunnels where they deposit pollen and nectar for their offspring.

Sweat Bees

Sweat bees are small black or brown insects that can have shiny blue or green metallic highlights. They look a little like a bluebottle fly crossed with a bee. Sweat bees are attracted to sweat, and will land on people to drink it. However, they mainly feed on nectar and pollen. Female queen sweat bees dig branching burrows in bare soil with flat surfaces or vertical banks. The female leaves balls of pollen and nectar at the end of the tunnel like a mining bee does.

Flying Ants

Winged ants are the reproductive forms of worker ants. The queen ant sheds her wings once she starts her own colony and starts laying eggs. Wingless worker ants make up a majority of the colony and help to expand its size. Once the colony has lived for two years, the queen starts laying eggs that will hatch and turn into winged ants. After three to five days of heavy summer rain, the winged flying ants will swarm out of the ground to mate. The male flying ants die off, and the fertilised females fly away to start their own colonies. Flying ants will come together around chimneys, tractors or large trees.

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