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Megachile melanophaea Smith, 1853


Scientific Name: Megachile melanophaea Smith, 1853

Common Name: Black-and-gray Leafcutter Bee


Megachile melanophaea Smith, 1853: 191 [♀, ♂].

     Lectotype ♀, designated by Cockerell (1916: 4). CANADA, Nova Scotia, by Lieut. Redman [BMNH no. 17a.2404].

Megachile femorata Provancher, 1882: 228 [♂]. Preoccupied, not Megachile femorata Smith, 1879.

     Lectotype ♂, designated by Sheffield and Perron (2014: 144). Location not specified [ULQC no 872].

Megachile wootoni Cockerell, 1898: 125 [♂]. Synonymy by Mitchell (1935: 195), as a variety of Megachile melanophaea Smith, 1853. New synonymy.

     Holotype ♂. USA, New Mexico, Ruidoso Creek, 7800 feet, 6 July [no year provided], by E.O. Wooton [no. 57], asleep on Vicia americana[?] [USNM no. 5805].

Megachile calogaster Cockerell, 1898: 55 [♂, ♀]. Synonymy of Megachile wootoni Cockerell, 1898 by Cockerell (1899: 158), as a subspecies; synonymy of M. melanophaea Smith, 1853 suspected by Sladen (1918: 304); synonymy by Mitchell (1935: 195), as a variety of Megachile melanophaea Smith, 1853. New synonymy.

     Lectotype ♂, designated by Mitchell (1935: 195, by mention). USA, Washington, Olympia, 21 June 1895, by T. Kincaid, on lupine [USNM no. 4268].

Megachile canadensis Friese, 1903: 248. Replacement name for Megachile femorata Provancher, 1882.

Megachile wootoni rohweri Cockerell, 1906: 453 [♀]. Synonymy by Mitchell (1935: 196), as a variety of Megachile melanophaea Smith, 1853. New synonymy.

     Syntypes ♀. USA, Colorado, Florissant, 18 July 1906, by S.A. Rohwer, on Polemonium [one is in AMNH; Cockerell collection?].

Megachile pseudolatimanus Strand, 1919: 65 [♂]. Synonymy of Megachile melanophaea var. rohweri Cockerell, 1906 by Mitchell (1935: 196). New synonymy.

     Holotype ♂. USA, Arizona, San Francisco Mountains [Deutsches Ent. Inst.].

Megachile tuala Strand, 1919: 66 [♀]. Synonymy of Megachile melanophaea var. rohweri Cockerell, 1906 by Mitchell (1935: 196). New synonymy.

     Holotype ♀. USA, Arizona, San Francisco Mountains [Deutsches Ent. Inst.].

Megachile (Delomegachile) melanophaea var. submelanophaea Mitchell, 1935: 197 [♀]. New synonymy.

     Holotype ♀. USA, California, Idlewild, 27 June 1928, by E.C. Van Dyke [CAS no. 3615].

Megachile (Delomegachile) melanophoea Buckell, 1950: 28. Lapsus of Megachile melanophaea Smith, 1853.

Megachile (Delomegachile) melanophoea var. wooteni Buckell, 1950: 28. Lapsus of Megachile melanophaea wootoni Cockerell, 1898.


Taxonomic notes: Though Cockerell (1912: 354) examined Smith’s and other bees in the British Museum, including a ♂ specimen of Megachile melanophaea Smith, 1853 from ON (Hudson’s Bay, 44-17), this was one of three specimens of this species, and Cockerell did not indicate that this was the type. However, in 1916 (Cockerell 1916: 4) he indicated that the type locality of M. melanophaea was Nova Scotia (subsequently indicated by Mitchell 1935: 192), and this is here recognized as the point of reference for the lectotype designation.

Cockerell (1899: 158) mentioned that Megachile wootoni Cockerell, 1898 and Megachile calogaster Cockerell, 1898 were likely geographic races of the same species, though he only had ♂s which he distinguished based on the colour of the tibial spurs, ferruginous in M. wootoni, piceous in M. wootoni calogaster, and subtle differences in puncture density on the vertexal area (less dense in the latter). When he provided a key to the species in Boulder, Colorado (Cockerell 1907: 253) recognized the ♀s and distinguished those of M. wootoni from M. wootoni calogaster based on the presence of conspicuous black hair on the vertex and mesothorax of the latter. He later (Cockerell 1916: 4-5) recorded these two forms and the typical form from eastern North America (Michigan).

Mitchell (1935: 195) later recognized M. wootoni as a variety of M. melanophaea Smith, 1853, though he indicated that there was no reliable way to distinguish the ♂s (and did not separate them in his key on page 178 despite Cockerell’s (1899: 158) mention of tibial spur colour), though the ♀ of M. wootoni was distinguishable from the typical form only by the pale hair on the vertex, mesonotum, and tergum 6 (which is dark in the typical form) (Mitchell 1935: 177); Mitchell (1935: 177) indiciated that the ♀ of M. var. rohweri Cockerell, was similar to M. wootoni, but with even more pale hair on the metasoma.

Though Mitchell (1935: 177, 178, 196) considered Megachile wootoni rohweri Cockerell, 1906 the palest variety of Megachile melanophaea Smith, 1853 (i.e., M. melanophaea rohweri), Michener (1951: 1175) recognized it as a valid species (i.e., Megachile rohweri Cockerell, 1906), indicating that it was prehaps a synonym of M. melanophaea wootoni Cockerell, 1898; M. pseudolatimanus Strand, 1919 and M. tuala Strand, 1919 were listed as synonymys of M. rohweri, following Mitchell (1935: 196).

Mitchell (1935: 177, 195) recognized M. calogaster Cockerell, 1898 as a dark variety of M. melanophaea more typical in the Pacific coastal areas, and in parts of the Rocky Mountains, including AB and BC, MB, and ON, though did not distinguish the ♂ from the typical form.

Mitchell (1935: 197) described the variety submelanophaea Mitchell, 1935 from California as distinct from the remaining varieties he recognized, including the typical form, in having the scopal hairs entirely black, not red. He later (Mitchell 1962: 140) indicated that it was more widespread (California, Michigan, Maine) with only it and the typical form occuring in eastern North America. In addition to the scopa colour, could be distinguished from all other forms based on the black hairs of the gena, legs, and pleura, but entirely pale hairs of the vertex, scutum, scutellum, and terga 1 and 2 (Mitchell 1962: 140).

Buckell (1950: 28) recorded three of the varieties, the typical form, calogaster, and wootoni (as wooteni) from BC, citing T.B. Mitchell who indicated that the colour forms have obscure limits.

Though the common name "Black-and-gray Leafcutter Bee" is in use for this species, in Canada it has been called "Black-brown Leafcutter" since 1884 (Guignard 1887: 52).

DNA Barcode Index Number (BIN): BOLD:AAC8837

This BIN is shared across all recognized colour forms (i.e., varieties, subspecies) of M. melanophaea occurring in Canada, including those recognizable as Megachile melanophaea calogaster Cockerell, 1898 from BC and M. melanophaea submelanophaea Mitchell, 1935 from eastern Canada. One specimen matching the ♀ of M. melanophaea wootoni Cockerell, 1898 based on the pale hair on the vertex, mesonotum, and tergum 6 from AK (UAM:Ento:482465) also shares this BIN. Though material matching M. melanophaea rohweri Cockerell, 1906 has not yet been DNA barcoded, specimens of M. melanophaea s. l. from the southwestern USA also share this BIN. Due to shared COI, transitional colour forms and overlapping distributions (see Buckell 1950: 28), recognition of separate subspecific taxa is not warranted.

Distribution in Canada: Smith 1853 [NS, type locality, ON]; Couper 1881 [QC], 1883 [Canada]; Provancher 1882 [Canada?]; Guignard 1884 [ON]; Cockerell 1911 [AB, SK, as M. calogaster Cockerell]; Gibson 1911 [AB, as M. calogaster Cockerell], 1914 [ON, as M. wootoni Cockerell], 1917 [AB, NS]; Crawford 1913 [NB]; Cockerell 1916 [NS]; Mitchell 1935b [YT, NT, BC, AB, MB, ON, QC, NB, NS, NF - as calogaster Cockerell, BC, AB, MB, ON], 1962 [Mackenzie to NS]; Buckell 1950 [NT, BC [and as M. melanophaea var. calogaster Cockerell, and M. melanophaea var. wooteni Cockerell]]; Pengelly 1953 [ON]; Bishop and Armbruster 1999 [AK]; Sheffield et al. 2003, 2009 [NS], 2011 [AK, YT, NT, NU, BC, AB, SK, MB, ON, QC, NB, PE, NS, NF], 2014 [AB, SK, MB]; Elwell 2012 [BC]; Evans 2013 [AB]; Hicks and Sircom 2016 [NF]; Normandin et al. 2017 [QC]; Sheffield and Heron 2019 [BC]; Hicks and Sheffield 2021 [LB]; Vizza et al. 2021 [NU]; Gibbs et al. 2023 [MB]; Onuferko et al. 2023 [AB, SK, MB].



Cockerell TDA (1898) Some bees of the genus Megachile from New Mexico and Colorado. Annals and Magazine of Natural History, Series 7 1(): 125-130.

Cockerell TDA (1898) New and little known bees from Washington State. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 50: 50-56.

Cockerell TDA (1899) Notes on American bees. Entomologist 32: 154-159.

Cockerell TDA (1912) Canadian bees in the British Museum. The Canadian Entomologist 44(12): 354-358.

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 III. Taxonomy of the subgenera Anthemois and Delomegachile (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae). Transactions of the American Entomological Society 61(3): 155-205.

Provancher L (1882c) Faune Canadienne. Les Insectes Hyménoptères. Naturaliste canadien 13: 225-242.

Cockerell TDA (1906) The bees of Florissant, Colorado. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 22: 419-455.

Cockerell TDA (1907) The bees of Boulder County, Colorado. The University of Colorado Studies 4: 239-259.

Cockerell TDA (1916) Some bees in the British Museum. The Canadian Entomologist 48(8): 272-274.

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.

Sheffield C, Perron J (2014) Annotated catalogue of the bees described by Léon Provancher (Hymenoptera: Apoidea). The Canadian Entomologist 146 (2): 117-169.

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, Hebert PD, Kevan PG, Packer L (2009) DNA barcoding a regional bee (Hymenoptera: Apoidea) fauna and its potential for ecological studies. Molecular Ecology Resources 9: 196-207.

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.

Crawford JC (1913) Some bees from New Brunswick, with description of a new species of Heriades. The Canadian Entomologist 45(8): 269-273.

Guignard JA (1887) Beginning an aquaintance with wild bees. Annual Report of the Entomological Society of Ontario 17: 51-53.

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.

Sladen FWL (1918) Pollination of alfalfa by bees of the genus Megachile. The Agricultural Gazette 5(2): 125-126.

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:

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.

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

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.

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.

Evans MM (2013) Influences of grazing and landscape on bee pollinators and their floral resources in rough fescue prairie. MSc Thesis, University of Calgary. ix + 119 pp.

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.

Strand Ε (1919) Über einige Apiden des Deutschen Entomologischen Museums. Archiv für Naturgeschichte 83A(11): 57-68

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

Crop Preference: Not Available
Non Crop Preference: Vaccinium angustifolium, Moehringia lateriflora, Rhinanthus minor

Distribution: Alaska, Alberta, British Columbia, Labrador, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Yukon
Ecozone: Atlantic Maritime, Boreal Cordillera, Boreal Plains, Boreal Shield, Mixwood Plains, Montane Cordillera, Newfoundland Boreal, Pacific Maritime, Prairie, Taiga Cordillera, Taiga Plains, Taiga Shield, Western Interior Basin