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Melissodes agilis Cresson, 1878


Scientific Name: Melissodes agilis Cresson, 1878

Common Name: Agile Long-horned Bee


Melissodes agilis Cresson, 1878 : 204 [♂].

     Lectotype ♂, desginated by Cresson (1916: 110). USA, Texas, by Belfrage [ANSP no. 2315].

Melissodes aurigenia Cresson, 1878 : 212 [♀, ♂]. Synonymy by LaBerge (1961 : 382).

     Lectotype ♀, desginated by Cresson (1916: 112). USA, Colorado [ANSP no. 2332].

Melissodes argilis Rau and Rau, 1916: 245. Lapsus of Melissodes agilis Cresson, 1878.


Taxonomic notes: Cresson (1878: 212) described Melissodes aurigenia Cresson, 1878 as a species, which was subsequently synonymized under M. agilis Cresson, 1878 by Lovell and Cockerell (1906: 11), though they considered the former more widespread; Cresson (1878) distinguished the males of the two species mainly based on antennal length, with M. agilis having the antenna “nearly as long as the body…[the] third joint a little larger than the second” while in M. aurigenis the antenna is “two-thirds the length of the body, third joint less than twice the length of the second”, suggesting suble morphological differences. Cockerell (1928: 333) subsequently considered M. aurigenis a subspecies of M. agilis; LaBerge (1961: 382) incorrectly indicated that the species was originally described as a subspecies of M. agilis, but supported the earlier synonymy proposed by Lovell and Cockerell (1906).

Biology: LaBerge (1961), citing Rau (1922) briefly described the nest, possibly in the early stage of construction. LaBerge (1961) indicated that this species was oligolectic on Helianthus, though other composite flowers will be used (Robertson 1926).

Distribution in Canada: Cresson 1878 [Canada, as Melissodes aurigenia Cresson, 1878]; Couper 1883 [Canada, as M. aurigenia Cresson, 1878]; Provancher 1888 [QC, as Melissodes obliqua Smith, YEAR; see Sheffield and Perron 2014]; Walker 1913 [ON, as M. aurigenia Cresson, 1878]; Gibson 1914 [BC, ON, as M. aurigenia Cresson, 1878]; LaBerge 1961 [BC, AB, MB, ON; "N.W.T" is likely a reference to northwest]; Mitchell 1962 [southern Canada]; RSKM [SK]; Sheffield et al. 2014 [AB, SK, MB]; Sharkey 2022 [ON]; Gibbs et al. 2023 [MB].

Though Lovell and Cockerell (1906) considered M. aurigenia a synonym of M. agilis, they considered the former to be the more widespread form; Cresson (1878) recorded the former from Canada and several eastern states, while M. agilis was described from Texas.




Provancher L (1888) Additions et Corrections au Volume II de la Faune Entomologique du Canada Traitant des Hyménoptères. Quebec, Darveau.

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

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].

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.

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

Cresson ET (1878) Descriptions of new species of North American bees. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 30: 181-221.

Rau P (1922) Ecological and behavior notes on Missouri insects. Transactions of the Academy of Science of St. Louis 24: 1-71.

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

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

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.

Sharkey JK (2022) Restoring rarities: the impact of habitat management and restoration on native bee communities in tallgrass prairie and oak savanna in southern Ontario. MSc Thesis, University of Guelph, xv + 153 pp.

Cockerell TDA (1928) Some bees from Utah. Psyche 35(4): 232-234.

LaBerge WE (1961) A revision of the bees of the genus Melissodes in North and Central America. Part III (Hymenoptera, Apidae). The University of Kansas Science Bulletin 42(5): 283-663.

Rau P, Rau N (1916) The sleep of insects; an ecological study. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 9(3): 227-274.

Lovell JH, Cockerell TDA (1906) Notes on the bees of southern Maine: Anthophoridae, Halictoididae, Macropidae and Panurgidae. Psyche 13(5): 109-113.

Sociality: Solitary
Nesting: Ground
Pollen Specialization: Broad Oligolecty
Wintering Stage: Mature Larva

Crop Preference: Not Available
Non Crop Preference: Not Available

Distribution: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan
Ecozone: Boreal Shield, Mixwood Plains, Montane Cordillera, Prairie