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 Field-Identifiable 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

Medium-large, pale hairs on T1 and T2, indistinct hairbands on other terga. Thorax with a dark smudge -> Broad-handed Leafcutter

Large (but slender) with a distinct point under the chin, associated with sunflowers -> Pugnacious Leafcutter

Similar to Pugnacious, but without the spine on the chin (1 VT record) -> Hostile Leafcutter

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


Simplified Key for Field-Identifiable Males

White front tibia

Covered in orange hairs, green eyes, minimal banding on abdomen – Broad-handed Leafcutter

Pale hairs on T1 + T2, white hair bands on remaining terga -> Frigid Leafcutter

Parallel-sided abdomen, massive “thumb” on mitten shaped front tibia -> Pugnacious Leafcutter

T1 + T2 with pale hairs, the rest of the abdomen dark -> Black-and-gray Leafcutter

Dark front tibia – most hard to id from photos

T1 + T2 with pale hairs, the rest of the abdomen dark -> Small handed Leafcutter

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