Scientific Name: Melissodes desponsa Smith, 1854

Common Name: Thistle Long-horned Bee


Melissodes desponsa Smith, 1854: 310 [♀].

     Holotype ♀. USA, Ohio [BMNH no. 17B855].

Melissodes nigripes Smith, 1854: 311 [♂‚, not ♀] [synonymy by Dalla Torre 1896: 231].

     Lectotype ♂‚ [designated by LaBerge 1956b: 566]. USA [BMNH no. 17B836].

Melissodes cnici Robertson, 1901: 230 [♀, ♂‚] [synonymy suspected by Lutz and Cockerell 1920: 599, confirmed by LaBerge 1956b: 563].

     Lectotype ♂‚ [designated by LaBerge 1956b: 566]. USA, Illinois, Carlinville, 18 August 1897, by C. Robertson, on Cnicus lanceolatus (=Cirsium vulgare) [INHS].


Species Notes

LaBerge (1956b) provided a detailed account of some of the issues with the type materials associated with M. desponsus, though incorrectly attributes the synonymy of M. nigripes under M. desponsus to Cresson (1879: 225, who actually considered M. atriventris Smith, not M. nigripes Smith, a synonymy of M. desponsus). As the female specimen of M. nigripes was not even a Melissodes (LaBerge 1956b), the male was designated as the lectotype to stabilize the taxonomy.

Lutz and Cockerell (1920) indicated that Robertson proposed M. cnici as a new name for the ♂‚, (not ♀) of M. nigripes Smith, 1854 (and that it may may included the ♀ of M. desponsa Smith, 1854), indicating that it was a synonymy of the latter. As no specific specimen information was provided by Robertson (1901), and if this taxon was proposed as a new name and not a new species (Robertson 1901 does indicate n. sp.), then the lectotype designations of LaBerge (1956b: 566) may not have been required, as presumably the type material of M. nigripes would also serve as the type of M. cnici. However, there was no reason to justify a new name for M. nigripes, so the designation of material identifed as M. cnici by Robertson as a lectotype does stabilize the synonymy.

Though treated as one of two members of the subgenus Heliomelissodes by LaBerge (1956a,b, 1961), a recent molecular phylogeny of Wright et al. (2020), while finding Heliomelissodes monophyletic, rendered the subgenus Eumelissodes paraphyletic. Though Heliomelissodes was still recognized by Michener (2007), it is likely in subsequent treatments, this species will be considered a member of Eumelissodes.



This species is considered oligolectic on Cirsium (LaBerge (1956b).



Dalla Torre 1896

LaBerge WE (1956a) A revision of the bees of the genus Melissodes in North and Central America. Part I (Hymenoptera, Apidae). University of Kansas Science Bulletin 37 (18): 911–1194.

LaBerge WE (1956b) A revision of the bees of the genus Melissodes in North and Central America. Part II (Hymenoptera, Apidae). The University of Kansas Science Bulletin 38(1): 533–578.

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

Lutz FE, Cockerell TDA (1920) Notes on the distribution and bibliography of North American bees of the families Apidae, Meliponidae, Bombidae, Euglossidae, and Anthophoridae. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 42: 491-641.

Michener CD (2007) The bees of the world (2nd ed.). Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Robertson C (1901) Some new or little-known bees. The Canadian Entomologist 33: 229-231.

Smith F (1854)

Wright KW, Miller KB, Song H (2020) A molecular phylogeny of the long-horned bees in the genus Melissodes Latreille (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Eucerinae). Insect Systematics and Evolution DOI 10.1163/1876312X-bja10015

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

Crop Preference: Not Available
Non Crop Preference: Cirsium sp., Symphyotrichum novae-angliae, Cirsium vulgare, Carduus crispus, Centaurea sp., Centaurea jacea

Distribution: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec
Ecozone: Atlantic Maritime, Mixwood Plains