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Species detail

Megachile lapponica (Leaf cutter bee)

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Taxonomy

Megachile lapponica is in the family Megachilidae. Bees in the genus Megachile are known by the common name “leaf cutter bees” because many members of the genus cut out circular or oval pieces of leaves to line their nests. There are some exceptions; some Megachile use tree resin and others use chewed vegetation and mud in addition to leaf pieces. M. lapponica seems to be rare in Minnesota. We had one nest of the species in the Bee Atlas project, in the Laurentian mixed forest biome in the northeastern part of the state.

Description

Megachile are primarily characterized by having large chewing mandibles and scopae (pollen-collecting hairs) on the females' abdomens. This species, like many Megachile, is a mostly dark bee with light hair bands across the abdomen of both females and males. Males have unmodified forelegs and look like fluffy females with extra long antenna and without scopae. Megachile lapponica range from 9-12 mm long. They are a medium sized Megachile, without a lot of distinguishing characteristics. They look most similar to M. relativa and M. centuncularis, however they differ from both in that females of M. lapponica have pale scopal hairs until the last segment, which has dark hairs.

Nest Structure

Like many Megachile, M. lapponica use whole leaf pieces inside their nests, but they may use other materials for the outer plug. Our limited information from Bee Atlas blocks shows plugs with mud or sand as the outer layer. M. lapponica is considered a dietary specialist on the genus Epilobium (Grathmann and Tscharntke 2002). In Minnesota, that genus is represented by Chamaenerion angustifolium (Fireweed), due to a change in taxonomy. M. lapponica from Bee Atlas blocks will be the first specimens of this species in the UMN Insect Collection.

Hole Sizes

We only had one M. lapponica nest in the Bee Atlas project, in a lower column 2 (5/16") hole.

Voltinism

no data at this time

Activity Period

no data at this time

References

Foraging Ranges of Solitary Bees. Author(s): Achim Gathmann and Teja Tscharntke Source: Journal of Animal Ecology, Vol. 71, No. 5 (Sep., 2002), pp. 757-764

Minnesota Record Map

These data are from the Minnesota Bee Atlas project.

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