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Halictus virgatellus Cockerell, 1901


Scientific Name: Halictus virgatellus Cockerell, 1901

Common Name: Comma Sweat Bee


Halictus virgatellus Cockerell, 1901: 284 [♀].

     Holotype ♀. USA, New Mexico, Las Vegas Range, 29 June 1901, by T.D.A. Cockerell [USNM no 12063].

Halictus sansoni Crawford, 1911: 267 [♀]. Synonymy by Sandhouse (1941: 36).

     Holotype ♀. CANADA, Alberta, Banff [USNM no. 13753].

Halictus fraserae Cockerell, 1916: 100 [♀]. Synonymy by Sandhouse (1941: 36).

     Holotype ♀. USA, Colorado, Tolland, July 1915, by L.A. Kenoyer, on Frasera [USNM no. 27993]. 

Halictus typographicus Cockerell, 1918: 261 [♂]. Synonymy by Sandhouse (1941: 36).

     Holotype ♂. USA, Colorado, Pikes Peak, Printing Office, 10,000 ft., 17 Sept [no year provided], by T.D.A. Cockerell [USNM no. 28001].

Halictus (Seladonia) ororyctes Cockerell, 1933: 40 [♀]. Synonymy by Sandhouse (1941: 36).

     Holotype ♀. USA, Colorado, Pingree Park, 15 August 1932, by H. James [Riverside or CAS no. 15614].


Taxonomic notes: Though Cockerell (1916: 100) provided the description for Halictus fraserae Cockerell, 1916, the species was also reported as n. sp. by Kenoyer (1916), based on its determination as such by T.D.A. Cockerell.

Cockerell (1916) indicated that it was likely that his H. fraserae was a colour variant of H. virgatellus Cockerell, 1901, and later (Cockerell 1918) compared the habitat of H. virgatellus and H. frasera to H. typographicus Cockerell, 1918, suggesting they all co-occurred and were likely closely related. Cockerell (1919) later recognized the male of H. virgatellus and compared it to H. typographicus but still considered them different species. He (i.e., Cockerell 1933) also compared his H. ororyctes Cockerell, 1933 to H. virgatellus. Sandhouse (1941) ultimately clarified its taxonomy.

DNA Barcode Index Number (BIN): BOLD:AAD5700

Biology: This species is primarily solitary (Eickwort et al. 1996) though may exhibit some levels of sociality in southern parts of its range (Packer et al. 2007). Eickwort et al. (1996) indicated that the switch to a solitary life style likely allows these bees to live at much higher latitudes than eusocial species.

Distribution in Canada: Crawford 1911 [AB, as Halictus sansoni Crawford, type locality]; Sandhouse 1941 [BC, AB, Mackenzie District]; Michener 1951 [NT, BC, AB]; Stainer 1959 [BC]; Roberts 1973 [NT, BC, AB]; Hurd 1979 [NT, BC, AB]; Sheffield et al. 2014 [AB, MB]; Hicks and Sheffield 2021 [LB]; Vizza et al. 2021 [NU, ON]; Gibbs et al. 2023 [MB].

Likely widespread across western alpine and northern regions of Canada as far east as Labrador, though uncommon. Sandhouse (1941) recorded this species from British Columbia, Alberta, and the MacKenzie District (presumably the Northwest Territories). Stainer (1959) also recorded this species from British Columbia, but did not indicate from where, though surveys were based out of Okanagan Mission and Vancouver. Roberts (1973) also recorded this species from the Northwest Territories, British Columbia, and Alberta in Canada, though indicated that he had not seen any specimens collected below 1,829 m (6,000 ft), with some occurring as high as 2,500 m (8,200 ft). He also considered this species rare in collections and indicated that little was known of its biology (Roberts 1973).


Cockerell TDA (1916) Some bees from Colorado. The Entomologist 49: 100-102.

Cockerell TDA (1918) Some halictine bees. The Entomologist 51: 261-262.

Cockerell TDA (1933) Bees collected by Mrs. Maurice T. James in Pingree Park, Colorado. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 26(1): 40-44.

Hurd PD (1979) Superfamily Apoidea. In: Krombein KV, Hurd Jr PD, Smith DR, Burks BD (Eds) Catalog of Hymenoptera in America North of Mexico. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, 2735 pp.

Roberts RB (1973b) Bees of Northwestern America: Halictus (Hymenoptera: Halictidae). Technical Bulletin of the Agricultural Experiment Station, Oregon State University 126: 1-23.

Sandhouse GA (1941) The American bees of the subgenus Halictus. Entomologica Americana 21(1): 23-38.

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].

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.

Stainer J (1959) A collection of Hymenoptera from British Columbia. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of British Columbia 56: 65-66.

Cockerell TDA (1919) The bees of the Rocky Mountain National Park (Hymenop.). Entomological News 30: 286-294.

Michener CD (1951) Family Halictidae. In: Muesebeck CF, Krombein KV, Townes HK (Eds) Hymenoptera of America north of Mexico Synoptic Catalog. 2. United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Monograph, Washington. Pp. 1104-1134.

Hicks B, Sheffield C (2021) Native bees (Hymenoptera; Apoidea) collected from Labrador, Canada. Journal of the Acadian Entomological Society 17: 20-24.

Cockerell TDA (1901) Some insects of the Hudsonian Zone in New Mexico—VI. Psyche 9 (308): 282 287.

Crawford JC (1911) Descriptions of new Hymenoptera. No. 3. Proceedings of the United States National Museum 41: 267 282.

Kenoyer LA (1916) Insect pollination of Frasera stenosepala. The Proceedings of the Iowa Academy of Science 23: 487-488.

Eickwort GC, Eixkwort JM, Gordon J, Eickwort MK (1996) Revision to solitary behavior from eusocial ancestry in the sweat bee Halictus rubicundus in the Rocky Mountains, and its implications for high-altitude and high-latitude adaptations and holarctic distributions of social insects. Behavioral Ecology and Social Biology 38: 227-233.

Vizza KM, Beresford DV, Hung KJ, Schaefer JA, MacIvor JS (2021) Wild bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea) from remote surveys in northern Ontario and Akimishi Island, Nunavut including four new regional records. Journal of the Entomological Society of Ontario 152: 57-80.

Packer L, Gravel AD, Lebuhn G (2007) Phenology and social organization of Halictus (Seladonia) tripartitus (Hymenoptera: Halictidae). Journal of Hymenoptera Research 16(2): 281-292.

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

Crop Preference: Not Available
Non Crop Preference: Not Available

Distribution: Alberta, British Columbia, Labrador, Manitoba, Northwest Territories
Ecozone: Hudson Plains, Prairie, Taiga Plains

Distribution Map