Native Range: Europe and Asia, introduced into North America and Pennsylvania
Size: Length: 14 to 18 cm (5.5 to 7.1 in); Wingspan:
Active: Year-round resident
Field Markings: “Breeding male has black bill, bib, and lores; chestnut eye stripes, nape, back, and shoulders; Winter male less patterned; Female has brown back, streaked with black; buffy eyestripe; and unstreaked grayish breast.” (Alderfer p. 260-261)
Native Range: Western North America, introduced in the east, Pennsylvania
Size: Medium finch: Length 12.5 to 15 cm (4.9 to 5.9 in); Wingspan: 20 to 25 cm (7.9 to 9.8 in)
Active: Year-round resident*
Field Markings: “Male’s forehead, bib, and rump are typically red, but can be orange or, occasionally yellow; brown streaked back, pale belly, streaked flanks; Female streaked dusky brown on entire body” (Alderfer p. 256-257)
Native Range: Europe, Asia, Africa, introduced to North America in mid-twentieth century
Size: Medium with unusually strong sexual dimorphism. Females: 11 -13 mm (0.43 – 0.51 in); Males: 14 – 17 (0.55 – 0.67 in)*
Nest: Solitary, cavity*
Nesting Location and Materials: Preexisting cavities lined with tricomes (“wool”) from plant leaves.*
Active: Summer, (Wilson and Carrill, p. 176-178.)
Color and Appearance: Black with golden hairs
Pollen Collection: Hairs on face (Wilson and Carrill, p. 176-178.)
European wool carder bees are native to Europe, Asia and North Africa. They were first observed near Ithica, NY in the 1960s and have since spread across north America. While native Anthidium sp. are active in the spring, only the introduced Anthidium manicatum is active in late summer.
Unlike most bees, the males are significantly larger than the females. Their eggs are laid at the back of the nesting tunnel, meaning that the smaller females hatch first. Large males defend flower patches and wait to mate with passing females.
Female wool carder bees collect the fuzz from plant leaves and use it to line their nesting areas and create dividers between their brood cells. (Wilson and Carrill, p. 176-178.)
August 12, 2020: I have observed a lone wool carder bee flying loops around the anise hyssop patch. I presume that this is our resident male, defending his patch from interlopers and looking for mates. Although Wikipedia says that males will defend their patch against even humans, he seems to ignore me. I appreciate that.
Human Value: Shoots, leaves and flowers are edible. Leaves are best when young although tough and bitter when older. They can be grown as cut and come again leaves. The stems can be used like asparagus.