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Species detail

Megachile mendica (Leaf cutter bee)

Images

Taxonomy

This species is in the family Megachilidae. The genus Megachile is known by the common name “leaf cutter bees” because many members cut out circular or oval pieces of leaves and use them to line their nests. There are some exceptions; some Megachile use tree resin and others use masticated vegetation and mud in addition to leaf pieces. Megachile mendica was an uncommon bee in Bee Atlas blocks, with nests in only one location each year. In 2016 and 2017, nests were in a block located in Dakota county, and in 2018, nests were in a block located in Cottonwood county.

Description

Megachile are pretty much all characterized by having large chewing mandibles and females that carry pollen in a scopa under their abdomens. This species, like many Megachile, is a mostly dark bee with light hair bands across the abdomen of females and males. Males have unmodified forelegs, looking more or less like extra fluffy females with extra long antenna and no scopa. Bees range from 8-13mm long. M. mendica is a medium sized, typical looking Megachile. If you get a good look from the side, the last segment of the top of the abdomen has no upright hairs and a straight slope to the tip, rather than a "hat brim" shape. Underneath, the scopal hairs of the female are yellow, with black hairs on the last segment. Females may appear less hairy than other similar sized Megachile, and the upper surface of the abdomen looks a bit corrugated.

Nest Structure

Like many Megachile, M. mendica use whole leaf pieces inside their nests. We had very few nests in the Bee Atlas project, but all of the nests had plugs of whole leaf pieces. (see graph in pictures)

Hole Sizes

Megachile mendica nested in lower column 2 (5/16"), and column 1 (3/8"-7/16") holes in Bee Atlas blocks. (see graph in pictures)

Voltinism

As far as we know, M. mendica is univoltine in Minnesota, meaning it completes 1 generation per year.

Activity Period

We had a small number of nests, and it was difficult to see a consistent pattern. M. mendica nests in Bee Atlas blocks appear to have been completed anytime between the middle of July and the middle of September. (see graph in pictures)

References

No information at this time.

Minnesota Record Map

These data are from the Minnesota Bee Atlas project.

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