I’m pretty pleased with this picture of a leaf-cutting bee. It could be better, to be sure, but I’m pretty psyched with it. The best part, in my view, is what it shows about bees’ eyes. Most people are familiar with the fact that most insects have compound eyes. These compound eyes are called oculi (singular oculus) and are made up of up to 9,000 ommatidia, the individual components of the eyes. What you may not know is that many insects have three additional simple eyes, called ocelli (singular ocellus) on the top of their head, arranged in a triangle. That’s right, they have five eyes, not two.
If you enlarge this image you should be able to see the three “additional” eyes on this leaf-cutting bee’s head. You’ll also get a nice view of the mandibles that she uses to cut pieces of leaf (thus the common name) to use as separators between cells of her nest.
Update: The good folks at BugGuide.net have identified this as Halictus parallelus (A Sweat Bee) (and a male, at that) rather than a Megachile (Leaf-cutting Bee). I have change the title and the caption on the photograph to reflect this.