Sunflowers are a common component of both wild and cultivated flowerscapes and host to a variety of specialist bees. While some of these species are widespread and abundant, others are very local or not yet known from VT. Their preferences for the different sunflower species is not well documented.
Long-horned Bees (Genus Melissodes)
Two species of Melissodes are most often found on sunflowers, particularly the large flowers of the domesticated Common Sunflower (Helianthus annuus).
Sunflower Mining Bee (Andrena helianthi)
A widespread, relatively common specialist. Image courtesy Spencer Hardy.
Sunflower Burrowing-Resin Bee (Paranthidium jugatorium)
The only member of this genus in the Northeast, this distinctive species appears to be very localized in the region with a likely preference for Woodland Sunflower (Helianthus divaricatus). Image courtesy Spencer Hardy.
Bounded Cuckoo Nomad Bee (Nomada vincta)
Not yet known from VT, this is likely a cleptoparasite of Andrena helianthi and/or Andrena aliciae. Image courtesy Michael Veit
Yellow-faced Miner Bee (Andrena aliciae)
Not yet known from VT, this is a southern species that occurs at least as far north as Massachusetts. Image courtesy Michael Veit
There are several regionally rare sunflower specialists that have been found sparingly in neighboring states. Genera to watch for range from large Savastra to tiny Perdita. Image Perdita bequaerti, courtesy Michael Veit.
Sunflower distribution: To see the global distribution, check out the iNaturalist account, and toggle the GBIF layer on the map.