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Perdita halictoides Smith, 1853


Scientific Name: Perdita halictoides Smith, 1853

Common Name: Ground-cherry Fairy Bee


Perdita halictoides Smith, 1853: 128 [♀].

     Holotype ♀. North America, by F. Smith [BMNH no. 17.a.1814].

Perdita sexmaculata var. punctata Cockerell 1896: 71 [♀]. Synonymy by Timberlake (1960: 135).

     Holotype ♀. USA, Colorado, Fort Collins, 8 August 1895, by C.F. Baker [no. 1591], on Solidago canadensis [USNM no. 64328].

Perdita maura Cockerell 1901: 191 [♂, ♀]. Synonym by Mitchell (1960: 318); by Timberlake (1960: 135).

     Syntypes ♂, ♀. USA, Nebraska, Cedar Bluffs, by L. Bruner, on Aster [USNM no. 18980(♂)].

Perdita bisignata Cockerell 1922: 11 [♀]. Synonymy of Perdita maura Cockerell, 1901 by Michener (1951: 1092); synonymy by Timberlake (1960: 135).

     Syntypes ♀. USA, Indiana, Lafayette, about 550 ft., alt., 16 August 1920 [AMNH].


Taxonomic notes: Members of the halictoides group of Perdita Smith s. str. (sensu Timberlake 1958: 365) have “peculiar palpi” (Timberlake 1929: 122), with the first segment more than twice as long as the following three segments (Cockerell 1922: 4), and shorter than other members of the subgenus (Robertson, 1918; Timberlake 1958: 366, 1962: 1). This characteristic is shared with Perdita s. str. (the type species is P. halictoides Smith[1]), P. (Geoperdita) Cockerell and Porter, 1899, P. (Tetraperdita) Cockerell and Porter, 1899, and Zaperdita Robertson, 1918, which Timberlake (1958: 366) synonymized under Perdita s. str., though these refer only to members of the halictoides group. Cockerell and Porter (1899: 414-415) used labial palp measurements first recognized by Ashmead (1898: 284), noted similarly structured labial palps for Perdita (Geoperdita) and Perdita (Tetraperdita), though did not have measurements of P. halictoides for comparison until published by Cockerell (1922: 4).

Cockerell (1899a: 312) indicated that Smith’s type species of Perdita (i.e., P. halictoides Smith) had lost both pairs of palpi, and that the drawings of Smith (1853, plate V, 10-11) referred to by Ashmead (1898: 284) were a fictional representation. Though Cockerell (1899a: 312) thought the palpi characteristics of Perdita were of “no account”, he later (i.e., Cockerell 1899b: 323; Cockerell and Porter 1899: 414-415) indicated that there were differences among species that might prove useful, and later provided measurements for the type species (Cockerell 1922: 4). For a lively dialogue on Perdita and other bee taxa between Ashmead and Cockerell, see Ashmead (1898, 1899), Cockerell (1899a, b), and Cockerell and Porter (1899).

Swenk and Cockerell (1907: 56) considered P. punctata Cockerell a valid species, though it was later considered conspecific by Timberlake (1960).

Mitchell (1960: 318) and Timberlake (1960: 135) both indicate a new synonymy of P. maura Cockerell under P. halictoides Smith, though Mitchell is credited first here as Timberlake (1960: 135) indicated that T.B. Mitchell compared material to the type of P. halictoides (also see Mitchell 1960: 319).

Though Timberlake (1960: 135) recorded P. bisignata Cockerell as a new synonymy of P. halictoides, it had previously been listed as a synonymy of P. maura byMichener (1951: 1092) and Timberlake (1952: 204). Interestingly, Timberlake (1958: 370) also considered it a synonymy of P. maura, but indicated only the ♂, though the male was not described with the type material.

The species is quite variable in terms of maculations - though the typical form has females with no yellow marks on the face (Smith 1853: 128; Cockerell 1896: 71, 1901: 191, 1904: 303; Mitchell 1960: 319), Cockerell (1922) described P. bisignata as having yellow face marks, with small maculations on tergum 3. Material from Canada is unmaculated on the face, though both terga 3 and 4 have small lateral maculations.

Biology: The nesting biology and immature stages were described by Eickwort (1977), who also indicated that it was multivoltine. Nests entrances are circular, 2.5 mm to 3.5 mm in diameter, and difficult to spot in the surrounding sand (Eickwort 1977). Nesting depth varies from 17 mm to 30 mm, averaging about 22 mm (Eickwort 1977).

Distribution in Canada: Sheffield et al. 2014 [MB]; Gibbs et al. 2023 [MB]


Eickwort GC (1977) Aspects of the nesting biology and descriptions of immature stages of Perdita octomaculata and P. halictoides (Hymenoptera: Andrenidae). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 50(4): 577-599.

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

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

Ashmead WH (1898) Some new genera of bees. Psyche 8(271): 282-285.

Michener CD (1951) Subfamily Panurginae. 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. 1087-1104.

Cockerell TDA, Porter W (1899) Contributions from the New Mexico Biological Station.—VII. Observations on bees, with descriptions of new genera and species. Annals and Magazine of Natural History, Series 7 4(24): 403-421.

Cockerell TDA (1896) The bees of the genus Perdita F. Smith. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 48: 25-107.

Cockerell TDA (1901) New and little-known bees from Nebraska. The Entomologist 34(458): 190-191.

Timberlake PH (1952) New records of Perdita from the eastern United States (Hymenoptera, Apoidea). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 54(4): 199-204.

Timberlake PH (1960) A revisional study of the bees of the genus Perdita F. Smith, with special reference to the fauna of the Pacific coast (Hymenoptera, Apoidea) Part IV. University of California Publications in Entomology 17(1): 1-156.

Robertson C (1918) Some genera of bees (Hym.). Entomological News 29: 91-92.

Cockerell TDA (1922) Two new subgenera of North American bees. American Museum Novitates 47: 1-5.

Cockerell TDA (1904) Notes on some bees in the British Museum. The Canadian Entomologist 36(10): 301-304.

Timberlake PH (1929) New records and descriptions of bees of the genus Perdita (Hymenoptera). Journal of the New York Entomological Society 37(2): 111-125.

Swenk MH, Cockerell TDA (1907) The bees of Nebraska.–I. Entomological News 18: 51-58.

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

Crop Preference: Not Available
Non Crop Preference: Not Available

Distribution: Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec
Ecozone: Mixwood Plains, Prairie

Distribution Map