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Agapostemon virescens (Fabricius, 1775)


Scientific Name: Agapostemon virescens (Fabricius, 1775)

Common Name: Bicolored Striped Sweat Bee


Andrena virescens Fabricius, 1775: 378 [♀].

     Holotype . AMERICA [BMNH no. BMNH(E) 668675].

Andrena nigricornis Fabricius, 1793: 313 [♂]. Synonymy by Smith (1853: 86, though of Andrena virescens Fabricius, 1775 under A. nigricornis); synonymy of A. virescens by Dalla Torre (1896: 98).

    Syntypes . USA, Georgia [location unknown, as per Sandhouse (1936: 77) and Moure (1960: 104)].

Apis viridula Fabricius, 1793: 3742 [♀]. Synonymy by Sheffield et al. (2021: 6).

     Lectotype , designated by Moure (1960: 104). “Habitat in America boreali” [NHMD ZMUC00241490].

Halictus dimidiatus Lepeletier, 1841: 283 [♀]. Synonymy of A. virescens by Dalla Torre (1896: 98); of A. viridulus by Robertson (1897: 326).

     Type . AMERICA [“probablement de l’Amérique septentrionale”] [location unknown, Musée de M. Serville was indicated].

Halictus tricolor Lepeletier, 1841: 289 [♂]. Synonymy of A. nigricornis by Cresson (1887: 293); synonymy of A. virescens by Dalla Torre (1896: 98).

     Type . AMERICA [“Amérique septentrionale”] [location unknown, Musée de M. Serville was indicated, but Roberts (1972) indicated Instituto e Musco de Zoologia, Universita di Torino, Italy].

Agapostemon bicolor Robertson, 1893: 148 [♀, ♂]. Synonymy of A. viridula by Robertson (1895: 118); synonymy of Agapostemon virescens (Fabricius, 1775) by Cockerell (1927: 153), by Moure (1960: 103).

     Lectotype ♀, designated by W.E. LaBerge, in Webb (1980: 115). USA, Illinois, Carlinville, 22 September 1886, by C.A. Robertson [INHS, Robertson no. 3306].


Taxonomic notes: The taxonomy of this species was recently clarified by Sheffield et al. (2021) who placed Apis viridula Fabricius, 1793, previously assumed to be a Cuban endemic, into synonymy under A. virescens (Fabricius, 1775) which made A. femoralis (Guérin-Méneville, 1844) available as the name for the Cuban species.

Under his discussions of Agapostemon virescens (Fabricius, 1775), Cockerell (1921: 363, 1927: 153) mentioned Apis vitreus, a taxon originally named and described from the male (with a colour illustration) by Harris (1782: pl 39 fig. 17); in the figure caption, Harris (1782) mentioned the brilliant green head and thorax, with yellow mouthparts, antennae, legs and abdomen, the latter with six black bands, which is consistent with most male Agapostemon Guérin-Méneville, 1844 in North America (e.g., Roberts 1972). Cockerell (1921) felt that this name should be considered valid, and presumably a synonym of A. virescens. As Harris’s (1782) work was focused on the insects of England, Warncke (1973) considered it (as Apis vitreus Harris, 1776, from England) a synonym of Halictus tumulorum (Linnaeus, 1758). However, Ebmer (1974) considered Harris’s taxon nomen dubium, indicating that the synonymy of Warncke (1973) was incorrect, and suggested that the large size of 11.5–12.5 mm (from Ebmer (1974), based on Harris’s (1782) mention of “five lines and a half”) and description supported that it was likely a male of Agapostemon, partially supporting Cockerell’s (1921) opinion. Ebmer (1974) also indicated that it was likely that at the time of collection (i.e., pre-1776), the New England states (where it was presumably collected) were regarded as belonging to the “motherland” (i.e., England), though by the time of publication of Harris’s works (i.e., 1776–1782) the United States was independent. However, as four species of Agapostemon with males generally matching that described by Harris (1782) are found in the New England states, so Sheffield et al. (2021) followed Ebmer’s (1974) recommendation and considered Harris’s species nomen dubium until the type material can be located.

DNA Barcode Index Number (BIN): BOLD:AAB2708.

Biology: Abrams and Eickwort (1980) studied the biology of this species, and indicated this species was communal; Eickwort (1981) described the larvae and nesting biology of this species, suggesting that the nests were possibly communally (i.e., occupied by several females each). In southern parts of its range this species is multivoltine (Eickwort 1981), and will build its nest in a variety of substrates.

Distribution in Canada: Couper 1881 [QC, as Agapostemon tri-color (Lepeletier, 1841)]; Provancher 1882 [Canada?, as A. tricolor Lepell]; Robertson 1897 [Canada, as A. viridulus Fab.]; Crawford 1912 [AB]; Walker 1913 [ON]; Criddle et al. 1924 (BC, AB, ON]; Mitchell 1960 [BC, QC]; Knerer and Atwood 1962 [ON]; Roberts 1972 [BC, AB, ON, QC], 1973 [BC]; Hurd 1979 [BC, ON]; Moure and Hurd 1987 [BC, ON, QC]; Elwell 2012 [BC]; Elwell et al. 2016 [BC]; Sugar et al. 1999 [ON]; Sheffield et al. 2003, 2009 [NS], 2014 [AB, SK, MB]; Normandin et al. 2017 [QC]; Gibbs et al. 2023 [MB]; INHS [NB]; Discover Life [PE].

Extent of Occurrence (EOO) in Canada ( km2

Index of Area of Occupancy (IAO) in Canada (  km2

Intertegular distance: ♀ 2.06


Fabricius JC (1793) Entomologia systematica emendata et aucta, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species adjectis synonymis, locis, observationibus, descriptionibus. Hafniae (Proft), 2, 519 pp.

Crawford JC (1901) North American bees of the genus Agapostemon Guerin. Publications of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences 7: 156-165.

Dalla Torre CG (1896) Catalogus Hymenopterorum hucusque descriptorum systematicus et synonymicus. Volume X: Apidae (Anthophila). Engelmann, Leipzig, 644 pp.

Eickwort GC (1981) Aspects of the nesting biology of five Nearctic species of Agapostemon (Hymenoptera: Halictidae). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 54(2): 337-351.

Fabricius JC (1775) Systema Entomologiae, Sistens Insectorum Classes, Ordines, Genera, Species, Adiectis Synonymis, Locis, Descriptionibus, Observationibus. Officina Libraria Kortii, Flensburgi et Lipsiae, 832 pp.

Janjic J, Packer L (2003) Phylogeny of the bee genus Agapostemon (Hymenoptera: Halictidae). Systematic Entomology 28(1): 101-124.

Lepeletier ALM (1841) Histoire Naturelle des Insectes - Hyménoptères. 2. Roret, Paris, 680 pp.

Robertson C (1893) Notes on bees, with descriptions of new species. Transactions of the American Entomological Society 20(2): 145-149.

Robertson C (1895) Notes on bees, with descriptions of new species. Transactions of the American Entomological Society 22(2): 115-128.

Robertson C (1897) North American bees−descriptions and synonyms. Transactions of the Academy of Sciences of St. Louis 7: 315-356.

Sandhouse GA (1936) The bees of the genus Agapostemon (Hymenoptera: Apoidea) occurring in the United States. Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences 26: 70-83.

Smith F (1853) Catalogue of Hymenopterous Insects in the Collection of the British Museum. British Museum, London, 198 pp.

Cockerell TDA (1927) Bees of the genera Agapostemon and Augochlora in the collection of the California Academy of Sciences. The Pan-Pacific Entomologist 3(4): 153-162.

Roberts RB (1972) Revision of the bee genus Agapostemon. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 49: 437-590.

Webb DW (1980) Primary insect types in the Illinois Natural History Survey Collection, exclusinve of the Collemboa and Thysanoptera. Illinois Natural History Survey Bulletin 32(2): 55-191.

Couper W (1881) Hymenoptera of the island of Montreal. The Canadian Sportsman and Naturalist 1(3): 19.

Abrams J, Eickwort GC (1980) Biology of the communal sweat bee, Agapostemon virescens in New York State. Search Agriculture 1: 1-20.

Guérin-Méneville FE (1844) Iconographie du règne animal de G. Cuvier. Insects. Paris, Baillière. 576 pp.

Cresson ET (1887) Synopsis of the families and genera of the Hymenoptera of American, North of Mexico, together with a catalogue of the described species, and bibliography. Transactions of the American Entomological Society, Supplementary Volume, 350 pp.

Sociality: Communal
Nesting: Ground
Pollen Specialization: Polylectic
Wintering Stage: Mated Female

Crop Preference: Not Available
Non Crop Preference: Not Available

Distribution: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan
Ecozone: Atlantic Maritime, Mixwood Plains, Prairie, Western Interior Basin

female; lateral view
female; lateral view
male; lateral view
male; lateral view

Distribution Map