female; lateral view
male; lateral view

Scientific Name: Melitta americana (Smith, 1853)

Common Name: Melitta americana


Cilissa americana Smith, 1853: 123 [♀]

     Holotype  ♀. USA, by E. Doubleday [BMNH]

Melitta americaniformis Viereck, 1909: 50 [♀] [synonymy by Snelling and Stage 1995: 24]

     Holotype ♀. USA, New Jersey, Jamesburg, in a cranberry bog, 4 July [no year specified], by John B. Smith [USNM no. 12255]


Species Notes

The ♂‚ was described by Mitchell (1960). Melitta americaniformis was considered a valid species in the catalogues of North American Hymenoptera (Michener 1951; Hurd 1979), but a synonym of M. americana by Mitchell (1960). However, only Snelling and Stage (1995) examined type material for both species, and confirmed the synonymy.

The DNA Barcode Index Number (BIN) for this species isBOLD:AAK7003.



Melitta americana was discovered in Canada in the province of Quebec associated with cranberry crop systems (Payette 2013), and is considered oligolectic on cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon). Although Cane et al. (1985) suggested that M. americana was the most important pollinator of deerberry (Vaccinium stamineum) in the eastern United States, bee specimens in that study are now thought to be another species, Melitta eickworti Snelling and Stage, described in 1995 (Snelling and Stage 1995). Melitta eickworti has not been recorded in Canada, and its absence in Ontario may be a contributing factor in the rarity of deerberry in Canada, which was assessed as Threatened in Canada (PCA 2010).



♀ body length:  mm; head length:  mm; head width:  mm; forewing length:  mm

♂‚ body length: mm; head length:  mm; head width:  mm; forewing length:  mm


Index of Area of Occupancy (IAO) in Canada (http://geocat.kew.org/): 4 km2



Cane JH, Eickwort GC, Wesley FR, Spielholz J (1985) Pollination ecology of Vaccinium stamineum (Ericaceae: Vaccinioideae). American Journal of Botany 72: 135–142.

Hurd PD, Jr (1979) Superfamily Apoidea. Pgs. 1741-2209. In: Krombein KV, Hurd PD Jr, Smith DR, Burks BD. Catalog of Hymenoptera in America North of Mexico. Volume 2. Apocrita (Aculeata). Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC.

Michener CD (1951) Superfamily Apoidea. 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, 1420 pp.

Mitchell TB (1960) Bees of the Eastern United States. Volume 1. North Carolina Agricultural Experiment Station Technical Bulletin 141: 1-538.

Payette A (2013) Frist record of the bee Melitta americana (Smith) (Hymenoptera: Melittidae) for Quebec and Canada. The Canadian Field-Naturalist 127(1): 60-63.

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

Snelling RR, Stage GI (1995) A revision of the Nearctic Melittidae: the subfamily Melittinae (Hymenoptera: Apoidea). Los Angeles County Museum Contributions in Science 451: 19‑31.

Viereck HL (1909) Descriptions of new Hymenoptera. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 11: 42-51.  

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

Crop Preference: Vaccinium macrocarpon
Non Crop Preference: Rubus sp., Vaccinium stamineum, Gaylussacia bigeloviana

Distribution: Quebec
Ecozone: Boreal Shield

Distribution Map