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Megachile cleomis Cockerell, 1900


Scientific Name: Megachile cleomis Cockerell, 1900

Common Name: Cleome Leafcutter Bee


Megachile cleomis Cockerell, 1900: 13 [♀, not ♂].

     Lectotype ♀, designated by Mitchell (1935: 37). USA, New Mexico, Santa Fe, 6 July [no year provided], by T.D.A. Cockerell [Cockerell, no. 3381].

Megachile pruinosa Friese, 1903: 246 [♂, ♀]. Preoccupied, not Megachile pruinosa Pérez, 1897, nomen dubium (Ghisbain et al. 2023: 65). Synonymy by Cockerell (1913: 536).

     Syntypes ♂, ♀. USA, Texas, Fedor, May and June, by G. Birkmann [].


Taxonomic notes: Though described as a valid species, Cockerell (1913: 536) subsequently considered his Megachile cleomis Cockerell, 1900 a western subspecies of M. generosa Cresson, 1878 [= Megachile texana Cresson, 1878], an opinion later supported by Mitchell (1935: 36) who considered it a valid subspecies of M. texana Cresson, 1878, the female differing from the typical form in having fewer dark hairs on the thorax dorsally with those of tergum 1 entirely so. Mitchell (1935: 36) also indicated that the ♀ and ♂ were incorrectly associated by Cockerell (1900), with at least some of the ♂s in the syntype series representing another species (i.e., Megachile mendica snowi Mitchell, 1927).

Cockerell (1906: 166) indicated that M. pruinosa Friese, 1903 was a preoccupied name, but stated that H. Friese felt that M. pruinosa Pérez, 1897 was a synonym of M. argentata (Fabricius, 1793) [= Anthidium florentinum Fabricius, 1775], though Ghisbain et al. (2023: 65) considered it nomen dubium, despite having examined the type and placing it in the subgenus Eutricharaea Thomson, 1872. Cockerell (1913: 536) also indicated that M. pruinosa Friese was a synonym of M. cleomis Cockerell, 1900 (as M. generosa cleomis), which was supported by Mitchell (1935: 36, as a junior synonym of M. texana var. cleomis Cockerell, 1900). Mitchell (1962: 118) did not recognize subspecies of M. texana, and M. pruinosa Friese was not included as a synonym of M texana as M. cleomis was not considered a species of the eastern United States (see Mitchell 1935: 37, though with some eastern records); Michener (1951: 1172) subsequently recognized M. cleomis as a valid species, with M. pruinosa Friese listed as a synonym, though recorded from QC west to BC in Canada, with records from eastern states as well. Hurd (1979: 2054) synonymized both M. cleomis and M. pruinosa Friese under M. texana, which was supported by Bzdyk (2012: 56), but the former is recognized here as a valid species, with the latter considered a junior synonym, with Cockerell (1913: 536) credited with the synonymy, though once the correct type material can be exaimned, it may turn out to be conspecific with M. texana.

Bzdyk (2012: 56) designated a lectotype ♀ of Megachile cleomis Cockerell, 1900 from “E. Las Vegas, New Mexico, 15 July ‘[18]99, by A. Garlick, on Cleome [UCMC] and placed it into synonymy under M. texana; however, this designation was not required as Mitchell’s (1935: 37) mention of the type of M. cleomis can be considered an unambiguously selected and valid lectotype designation as it was the only ♀ from Cockerell’s (1900: 14) syntype series that had this associated information. She also indicated that the description was based on two cotypes (Bzdyk 2012: 58) which is also incorrect as Cockerell (1900: 14) clearly indicated many ♂s from the type locality.

Though Sheffield et al. (2011: 42) also included M. cleomis as a synonymy of M. texana, Sheffield and Genaro (2013: 14) recognized it as a valid species, with 1.45% sequence divergence in COI from M. texana, and Sheffield and Heron (2019: 70) subsequently recognized it as a valid taxon occuring in BC.

DNA Barcode Index Number (BIN): BOLD:ACE4973

Distribution in Canada: Mitchell 1935 [BC, AB, ON, QC -latter two likely mis identified?]; Buckell 1950 [BC]; Sheffield and Heron 2019 [BC].

It is suspected that records in Canada from ON and QC likely represent misidentifications, and likely represent M. texana.


Cockerell TDA (1900) The New Mexico bees of the genus Megachile and a new Andrena. Annals and Magazine of Natural History, Series 7 6(31): 7-20.

Cockerell TDA (1913) Descriptions and records of bees.—LII. Annals and Magazine of Natural History, Series 8 11(66): 530-542.

Friese H (1903) Neue Arten der Bienen gattung Megachile aus Amerika. Zeitschrift für Systematische Hymenopterologie und Dipterologie 3(4): 246-248.

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.

Cockerell TDA (1906) New Rocky Mountain bees, and other notes. The Canadian Entomologist 38(5): 160-166.

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.

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

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

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.

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

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.

Sheffield CS, Genaro JA (2013) A new species of Megachile (Litomegachile) from Cuba, the Antilles (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae). Journal of Melittology 19: 1-17.

Ghisbain G, Rosa P, Bogusch P, Flaminio S, Le Divelec R, Dorchin A, Kasparek M, Kuhlmann M, Litman J, Mignot M, Müller A, Praz C, Radchenko VG, Rasmont P, Risch S, Roberts SPM, Smit J, Wood TJ, Michez D, Reverté (2023) The new annotated checklist of the wild bees of Europe (Hymenoptera: Anthophila). Zootaxa 5327(1): 1-147.

Sociality: Solitary
Pollen Specialization: Polylectic
Wintering Stage: Mature Larva

Crop Preference: Not Available
Non Crop Preference: Not Available

Distribution: British Columbia
Ecozone: Western Interior Basin

Distribution Map