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Andrena astragali Viereck and Cockerell, 1914


Scientific Name: Andrena astragali Viereck and Cockerell, 1914

Common Name: Death Camas Miner Bee


Andrena astragali Viereck and Cockerell, 1914: 46 [♀].

     Holotype ♀. USA, Nebraska, Sioux Co., badlands near the mouth of Monroe Canyon, 6 June 1901, by M.A. Carricker, Jr., on Astragalus [USNM no. 56114]. Photos examined.

Andrena zygadeni Cockerell, 1932: 174 [♀, ♂]. Synonymy by LaBerge and Ribble (1975: 431).

     Holotype ♀. USA, California, San Diego County, Lake Hodges, 9 March 1932, by C.M. Dammers, on Zygadenus [CAS no. 14377].


Taxonomic notes: LaBerge and Ribble (1975: 433) record the type locality of A. zygandeni as California, Riverside County, Gavilan, 28 March 1932, by C.M. Dammers, on Zygadenus fremontii, in contrast to Cockerell’s (1932) original work; though Cockerell (1932: 1975) included material from Gavilan (near Riverside) these were collected 8 March 1931 and indicate as paratypes.

DNA Barcode Index Number (BIN): BOLD:AAJ2194

Biology: When described by Viereck and Cockerell (1914: 46), Andrena astragali Viereck and Cockerell, 1914 was known from a single female specimen collected from locoweed, Astragalus Linnaeus (Fabaceae), in the badlands of Nebraska. Though its species epithet suggests a relationship with plants of the genus Astragalus, Andrena astragali is an oligolege of death camas, Toxicoscordion (Melanthiaceae) flowers (Tepidno 2003) and is apparently one of the only known species that can collected and consume the plants pollen and nectar, which is toxic to other species (Tepidino 1981, 2003, Tepidino et al. 1989; Cane 2018; Cane et al. 2020). Cane et al. (2020) even suggested that A. astragali is its sole pollinator, though other bees and flower flies (Syrphidae) are known to visit the flowers (Tepidino et al. 1989). Andrena zygadeni Cockerell, 1932 however was collected on death camas, as Zygadenus Michaux, now considered Toxicoscordion (see Zomlefer and Judd 2002, and more recently, McNeal and Zomlefer 2012 and Cane 2018).

Distribution in Canada: Criddle et al. 1924 [BC]; Elwell 2012 [BC]; Sheffield and Heron 2019 [BC]; RSKM [SK].


Cockerell TDA (1932) Bees of the genus Andrena from California. The Pan-Pacific Entomologist 8(4): 173-177.

Elwell SL, Griswold T, Elle E (2016) Habitat type plays a greater role than livestock grazing in structuring shrubsteppe plant–pollinator communities. Journal of Insect Conservation 20(3): 515-525.

LaBerge WE, Ribble DW (1975) A revision of the bees of the genus Andrena of the Western Hemisphere. Part VII. Subgenus Euandrena. Transactions of the American Entomological Society 101(3): 371-446.

Viereck HL, Cockerell TD (1914) New North American bees of the genus Andrena. Proceedings of the United States National Museum 48: 1-58.

Sheffield CS, Heron JM (2019) The bees of British Columbia (Hymenoptera: Apoidea, Apiformes). Journal of the Entomological Society of British Columbia 115: 44-85.

Criddle N, Curran CH, Viereck HL, Buckell ER (1924) The entomological record, 1923. Annual Report of the Entomological Society of Ontario 54: 87-102.

Elwell SL (2012) The effects of livestock grazing and habitat type on plant-pollinator communities of British Columbia’s Endangered Shrubsteppe. MSc Thesis, Simon Fraser University. X + 110 pp.

Tepedino VJ (1981) Notes on the reproductive biology of Zigadenus paniculatus, a toxic range plant. Great Basin Naturalist 41(4): 427-430.

Tepedino VJ (2003) What’s in a name? The confusing case of the death camas bee, Andrena astragali Viereck and Cockerell (Hymenoptera: Andrenidae). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 76(2): 194-197.

Tepedino VJ, Knapp AK, Eickwort GC, Ferguson DC (1989) Death camas (Zigadenus nuttallii) in Kansas: pollen collectors and a florivore. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 62(3): 411-412.

Cane JH (2018) Co-dependency between a specialist Andrena bee and its death camas host, Toxicoscordion paniculatum. Arthropod-Plant Interactions 12: 657-662.

Cane JH, Gardner DR, Weber M (2020) Neurotoxic alkaloid in pollen and nectar excludes generalist bees from foraging at death-camas, Toxicoscordion paniculatum (Melanthiaceae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 131(4): 927-935.

McNeal DW, Zomlefer WB (2012) Toxicoscordion. In: Baldwin BG, Goldman DH, Keil DJ, Patterson R, Rosatti TJ, Wilken DH (eds) The Jepson manual. Vascular plants of California. University of California Press, Berkeley, pp 1395–1396.

Zomlefer WB, Judd WS (2002) Resurrection of segregates of the polyphyletic genus Zigadenus s.l. (Liliales: Melanthiaceae) and resulting new combinations. Novon 12(2): 299-308.

Sociality: Solitary
Nesting: Ground
Pollen Specialization: Narrow Oligolecty
Wintering Stage: Adult

Crop Preference: Not Available
Non Crop Preference: Not Available

Distribution: British Columbia, Saskatchewan
Ecozone: Prairie, Western Interior Basin

Figure 1. <em>Andrena astragali</em> Viereck and Cockerell, 1914 female; lateral view
Figure 1. Andrena astragali Viereck and Cockerell, 1914 female; lateral view
Figure 2. <em>Andrena astragali</em> Viereck and Cockerell, 1914 male; lateral view
Figure 2. Andrena astragali Viereck and Cockerell, 1914 male; lateral view

Distribution Map