Centris pallida is a species of solitary bee native to North America. It lacks an accepted common name; however, it has been called the digger bee, the desert bee, and the pallid bee due to its actions, habitat, and color respectively. The solitary nature of this bee allows for a dual-strategy mating system which produces an evolutionarily stable state resistant to invading strategies. These bees have also evolved to withstand the high temperatures of their native habitat. C. pallida routinely has internal temperatures within 3 degrees Celsius of death.
The two categories of behavior for C. pallida males are patrolling and hovering. These strategies are also used to find mates. In one category (the patrollers), male bees will patrol 3–6 centimeters above the ground in search of sites where buried virgin females will emerge. When a male bee finds such a site, he will dig 1–2 centimeters through the soil by gnawing at the surface with his jaws and using his forelegs to remove dirt from the excavation. If a female is found, he will attempt to mate with her either on the surface or at a nearby flower or tree. Other patrollers will sometimes attempt to steal a digging spot that another bee has found. If a bee has already found a female, another patroller bee may separate the male from the female so that it can copulate with the virgin. More often than not, the female (once found) will mate with either the male that found her or with an intruder.
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The egg will then hatch within two weeks, and the grub will eat the nourishment that the mother left. The amount of bee bread provided will directly affect the size of the offspring (more food = larger size). When the food has been eaten and the grub has fully developed, the grub will turn into a prepupa. Over the course of eleven months, the prepupa will undergo metamorphosis to become an adult bee. The adult bee will then dig to the surface in late April or early May, and will live for about a month. By late July, virtually no C. pallida can be found.
The other category of behavior (the hoverers) uses a very different strategy that relies on the inherent limitations of the patroller strategy. Females won't have copulated with a patroller if they weren't found before emerging, or if they departed while the male that found them was fighting off a rival. The hoverers will wait either near plants that are close to emergence areas, regardless of whether the plants are flowering, or at flowering trees and shrubs well away from the emergence areas. These bees will hover anywhere from a few centimeters to eight meters in the air. Since patrollers are generally looking at the ground to find emergence areas, hoverers have less competition over escaped females. Those that are close to the emergence areas are able to quickly spot any females that got away from the patrollers. Male bees that are away from emergence areas stake out flowering plants in the hope that virgin females will arrive seeking food. Also, low-emergence areas are less likely to be patrolled, and thus, more females emerge without copulating.
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