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Brachymelecta californica (Cresson, 1878)


Scientific Name: Brachymelecta californica (Cresson, 1878)

Common Name: California Digger-Cuckoo Bee


Melecta californica Cresson, 1878: 91 [♂, ♀].

     Lectotype ♂, designated by Cresson (1916: 114). USA, California, by H. Edwards, Behrens [ANSP no. 2292].

Melecta? mucida Cresson, 1879: 205 [♂]. Synonymy by Onuferko et al. (2021: 13).

     Holotype ♂. USA, Nevada, by Morrison [ANSP no. 2294].

Melecta miranda Fox, 1893: 143 [♀]. Synonymy by Hurd and Linsley (1951: 129).

     Lectotype ♀, designated by Linsley (1939: 457, by mention). USA, South Dakota, Rapid City, by J.T. Aldrich [ANSP no. 10129].

Pseudomelecta pasadenensis Cockerell, 1910: 27 [♀]. Synonymy by Hurd and Linsley (1951: 129).

     Holotype ♀. USA, California, Pasadena, 30 April 1909, by F. Grinnell, Jr. [CAS no. 15525].

*Melecta sladeni Viereck, 1924: 15 [♀]. Synonymy of P. pasadenensis Cockerell by Cockerell and Sandhouse (1924: 323).

     Holotype ♀. CANADA, British Columbia, Summerland, 9 August 1916, by F.W.L. Sladen [CNC no. 652].


Taxonomic Notes: Though the “type” and “holotype” of M. miranda Fox, were examined by Linsley (1939: 457) and Onuferko et al. (2021: 15), respectively, Fox (1893: 143) did not cleary distinguish a type specimen for M. miranda Fox, listing both Rapid City and Custer, South Dakota as syntype localities. Thus, Linsley (1939) is given credit for designating a lectotype, by mention of a unambiguously distinguished specimen. Though Cockerell (1910: 27) was among the first to recognize M. miranda Fox as conspecific with B. californica (Cresson), it was considered a subspecies until Hurd and Linsley (1951: 129).

Onuferko (2021) described a form of this species in which the pubescence was entirely pale.

DNA Barcode Index Number (BIN): BOLD:AAC6481, BOLD:AAC6482

Two BINs have been assigned to this species, the first seemingly more western (BC, OR, AZ), the second generally more eastern (SK, ID, NV, NM, with specimens also from CA).

Biology: This species is a cleptoparasite of Anthophora bomboides, A. edwardsi, A. occidentalis, and A. urbana (Hurd and Linsley 1951).

Distribution in Canada: Mitchell 1962 [BC]; Sheffield et al. 2014 [AB, SK]; Sheffield and Heron 2019 [BC]; Onuferko et al. 2021 [BC, AB, MB]; Gibbs et al. 2023 [MB].



Cockerell TDA (1910) Descriptions and records of bees.—XXIV. Annals and Magazine of Natural History, Series 8 5(25): 22-30.

Cresson ET (1878) Descriptions of new North American Hymenoptera in the collection of the American Entomological Society. Transactions of the American Entomological Society 7: 61-136.

Mitchell TB (1962) Bees of the Eastern United States. Volume 2. North Carolina Agricultural Experimental Station Technical Bulletin 152, Raleigh, 557 pp.

Sheffield CS, Frier SD, Dumesh D (2014) The bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea, Apiformes) of the Prairies Ecozone, with comparisons to other grasslands of Canada. In: Giberson DJ, Cárcamo HA (Eds) Arthropods of Canadian Grasslands (Volume 4): Biodiversity and Systematics Part 2. 4. Biological Survey of Canada, Ottawa, 479 pp. [ISBN 978-0-9689321-7-9].

Viereck HL (1924) Descriptions of two Canadian bees of the genus Melecta. The Canadian Entomologist 56(1): 15.

Gibbs J, Hanuschuk E, Miller R, Dubois M, Martini M, Robinson S, Nakagawa P, Sheffield CS, Onuferko T (2023) A checklist of the bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea) of Manitoba, Canada. The Canadian Entomologist 155: E3.

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

Cresson ET (1916) The Cresson types of Hymenoptera. Memoirs of the American Entomological Society 1: 1-141.

Cockerell TDA, Sandhouse G (1924) Parasitic bees (Epeolinae and Melectinae) in the collection of the California Academy of Sciences. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences, Series 4 13(19): 305-324.

Fox WJ (1893) Synopsis of the North American species of Melecta. Entomological News 4: 143-144.

Hurd PD, Linsley EG (1951) The melectine bees of California (Hymenoptera: Anthophoridae). Bulletin of the California Insect Survey 1(5): 119-140.

Linsley EG (1939) A revision of the Nearctic Melectinae. Annals of the Entomologcal Society of America 32(2): 429-468.

Onuferko TM, Packer L, Genaro JA (2021) Brachymelecta Linsley, 1939, previously the rarest North American bee genus, was described from an aberrant specimen and is the senior synonym for Xeromelecta Linsley, 1939. European Journal of Taxonomy 754: 1-51.

Onuferko TM (2021) Anomalously pale-haired specimens in three genera of cleptoparasitic bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Nomadinae). The Great Lakes Entomologist 54(1): 53-57.

Sociality: Parasitic
Nesting: Ground
Pollen Specialization: Not Applicable
Wintering Stage: Mature Larva

Crop Preference: Not Available
Non Crop Preference: Not Available

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

female; lateral view
female; lateral view

Distribution Map