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Megachile brevis Say, 1837


Scientific Name: Megachile brevis Say, 1837

Common Name: Short Leafcutter Bee


Megachile brevis Say, 1837: 407 [♂, ♀].

     Syntypes ♂, ♀. USA, Indiana [destroyed].

Megachile lanuginosa Smith, 1853: 190 [♀, ♂]. Synonymy by Dalla Torre (1896: 422).

     Lectotype ♀, designated by Cockerell (1905: 337, by mention). USA, Florida, St. John’s Bluff, by E. Doubleday [BMNH no. B.M. Type Hym. 17a.2480].

Megachile nupta Cresson, 1872: 268 [♀]. Synonymy by Michener (1951: 1172).

     Lectotype ♀, designated by Cresson (1916: 126). USA, Texas, by Belfrage [ANSP no. 2449].

Megachile perbrevis Cresson, 1878: 127 [♂]. Synonymy by Mitchell (1935: 14).

     Lectotype ♂, designated by Cresson (1916: 127). USA, Texas, by Belfrage [ANSP no. 2450].


Taxonomic notes: Megachile brevis Say, 1837 is the type species of the subgenus Litomegachile Mitchell, 1934 (Mitchell 1934: 308).

Though described from Florida, Snow (1879: 98) recorded Megachile lanuginosa Smith, 1853 from Kansas; Dalla Torre (1896: 422) later considered M. lanuginosa Smith, 1853 a synonym of M. brevis, an opinion later supported by Mitchell (1935: 13). However, Cockerell (1905: 337) and Robertson (1927: 295) continued to recognize it as a valid species. Cockerell (1905: 337) examined the ♀ of M. lanuginosa (here considered a lectotype designation) and indicated that the scopa was pale, but black on the last segment (i.e., sternum 6), which is not consistent with most concepts of M. brevis (Mitchell 1935: 12; 1962: 116; Bzdyk 2012: 53), but is consisten with M. onobrychidis Cockerell, 1908 (western USA and Canada) and M. pseudobrevis Mitchell, 1935, the later also described from Florida and known from the southeastern United States (Mitchell 1962: Bzdyk 2012).

Mitchell (1935: 18) recognized Megachile nupta Cresson, 1872 as a valid subspecies of M. brevis Say, 1837 based on the lack of dark pubescence on vertex, mesonotum, and the abdominal terga, noting that it represented an extreme pale variation of this species. Following Michener (1951: 1172, 1953: 1662), he later (Mitchell 1962: 114) recorded it as a questionable synonym of M. brevis.

Biology: Blackmore (1906: 127, communicated from Mr. Elliot) indicated that M. brevis nested in pre-existing tunnels in a tree trunk, and constructed nest cells from rose leaves. Michener (1953) provided a detailed summary of the biology of this species. Nests of M. brevis are attached by the cuckoo leafcutter bee Coelioxys octodentata Say (Hicks 1926; Michener 1953; Pengelly 1955). 

Distribution in Canada: Reed 1871 [ON]; Couper 1881 [QC], 1883 [Canada]; Provancher 1882 [Canada?]; Walker 1913 [ON]; Gibson 1914 [ON], 1917 [BC, ON]; Mitchell 1935 [BC, SK, ON, QC], 1962 [southern Canada]; Buckell 1950 [BC]; Michener 1953 [BC, QC]; Pengelly 1953 [ON]; Ivanochko 1979 [NS]; Sheffield et al. 2003 [NS]; 2011 [BC, AB, SK, MB, ON, QC, NB], 2014 [SK]; Richards et al. 2011 [ON]; Elwell 2012 [BC]; Normandin et al. 2017 [QC]; Sheffield and Heron 2019 [BC]; Gibbs et al. 2023 [MB]; Onuferko et al. 2023 [AB].



Cresson ET (1872) Hymenoptera Texana. Transactions of the American Entomological Society 4: 153-292.

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.

Michener CD (1953) The biology of a leafcutter bee (Megachile brevis) and its associates. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 35: 1659-1748.

Mitchell TB (1934) A revision of the genus Megachile in the Nearctic region. Part I. Classification and descriptions of new species (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae). Transactions of the American Entomological Society 59(4): 295-361.

Mitchell TB (1935) A revision of the genus Megachile in the Nearctic region. Part II. Morphology of the male sternites and genital armature and the taxonomy of the subgenera Litomegachile, Neomegachile and Cressoniella. Transactions of the American Entomological Society 61(1): 1-44.

Reed EB (1871) Notes on Megachile brevis, Say. The Canadian Entomologist 3(11): 210-211.

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

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

Normandin É, Vereecken NJ, Buddle CM, Fournier V (2017) Taxonomic and functional trait diversity of wild bees in different urban settings. PeerJ 5: e3051.

Richards MH, Rutgers-Kelly A, Gibbs J, Vickruck JL, Rehan SM, Sheffield CS (2011) Bee diversity in naturalizing patches of Carolinian grasslands in southern Ontario, Canada. The Canadian Entomologist 143(3): 279-299.

Say T (1837) Descriptions of new species of North American Hymenoptera, and observations on some already described. Boston Journal of Natural History 1: 361-416.

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].

Sheffield CS, Kevan PG, Smith RF, Rigby SM, Rogers RE (2003) Bee species of Nova Scotia, Canada, with new records and notes on bionomics and floral relations (Hymenoptera: Apoidea). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 76(2): 357-384.

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

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.

Gibson A (1914) The entomological record, 1913. Annual Report of the Entomological Society of Ontario 44: 106-129.

Michener CD (1951) Family Megachilidae. 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. 1136-1186.

Gibson A (1917) The entomological record, 1916. Annual Report of the Entomological Society of Ontario 47: 137-171.

Buckell ER (1950) Record of bees from British Columbia: Megachilidae. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of British Columbia 46: 21-31.

Onuferko TM, Buck M, Gibbs J, Sokoloff PC (2023) Asymmetric responses by bees and aculeate wasps to dune stabilisation across the southern Canadian prairies Insect Diversity and Conservation 16:

Pengelly DH (1954) Alfalfa pollination in southern Ontario. Annual Report of the Entomological Society of Ontario 84: 101-118.

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

Couper W (1883) Canadian Hymenoptera. The Canadian Sportsman and Naturalist 3(7): 245-246.

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.

Walker EM (1913) Insects and their allies. Pp 295-403, in Faull JH (ed) The Natural History of the Toronto Region, Ontario, Canada. The Canadian Institute, Toronto. 419 pp.

Cockerell TDA (1905) Notes on some bees in the British Museum. Transactions of the American Entomological Society 31(4): 309-364.

Sheffield CS, Ratti C, Packer L, Griswold T (2011) Leafcutter and mason bees of the genus Megachile Latreille (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae) in Canada and Alaska. Canadian Journal of Arthropod Identification 18: 1-107.

Bzdyk EL (2012) A revision of the Megachile subgenus Litomegachile Mitchell with an illustrated key and description of a new species (Hymenoptera, Megachilidae, Megachilini). ZooKeys 221: 31-61.

Robertson C (1927) Florida flowers and Insects. Transactions of the Academy of Science of St. Louis 25(8): 277-324.

Snow FH (1879) Preliminary list of the Hymenoptera of Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 7: 97-101.

Sociality: Solitary
Nesting: Cavity Renter
Pollen Specialization: Polylectic
Wintering Stage: Mature Larva

Crop Preference: Not Available
Non Crop Preference: Not Available

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

Distribution Map