Leafcutter Bees are a diverse genus of summer time bees with at least 16 species in Vermont. As the name implies, they cut leaves (and occasionally flower pedals) to line their nests, which are either in hollow stems or ground cavities. Many can occasionally be identified from photos, including at least one that is globally rare and a few others that have yet to be found in Vermont. Hosts to Cuckoo Leaf-cutter Bees (Genus Coelioxys).

 

Genus level ID – As with all non-parasitic members of the family Megachilidae, females collect pollen under their abdomen. Most species are larger than the other Megachilidae in Vermont and many have abundant hairs. Some males have enlarged and colorful front legs.

Simplified Key for Females

Large and scary with a big head and short orange hair on the thorax -> Sculpture Resin Bee

Pale hair on thorax, T1 and T2 only, dark scopal hairs -> Small handed or Black-and-gray

Large with a distinct point under the chin, associated with sunflowers -> Pugnacious Leafcutter Bee

Small, slender, with minimal hairs, associated with bell flowers -> Bellflower Resin Bee

Small, white hair bands underneath scopal hairs, associated with non-native legumes -> Alfalfa Leafcutter

Large, ocelli far from rear edge of head, associated with composites -> Unarmed Leafcutter Bee

Medium sized, extremely exaggerated mandibles, rare -> Rugose-fronted Resin Bee

 

Unless otherwise specified, photos are courtesy of Margarita Miklasevskaja at PCYU with funding from NSERC-CANPOLIN.