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Triepeolus helianthi (Robertson, 1897)


Scientific Name: Triepeolus helianthi (Robertson, 1897)

Common Name: Sunflower Longhorn Cuckoo Bee


Epeolus helianthi Robertson, 1897: 344 [♀].

     Lectotype ♀, designated by W.E. LaBerge, in Webb (1980: 108). USA, Illinois, Carlinville, 18 September 1890, by C. Robertson, on Helianthus grosseserratus [INHS no. 9496].

Triepeolus donatus Cockerell, 1904: 38. Misideintification of Triepeolus donatus (Smith, 1854).

Triepeolus helianthi var. arizonensis Cockerell, 1904: 39 [♂]. Synonymy by Rightmyer (2008: 68).

     Holotype ♂. USA, Arizona, Phoenix, October 9 [no year provided], by T.D.A. Cockerell, on Helianthus annuus [USNM no. 9707].

Triepeolus coquilletti Cockerell, 1905: 106 [♀]. Synonymy by Rightmyer (2008: 68).

     Holotype ♀. USA, California, San Bernardino County, October [no year provided], by Mr. Coquillett [USNM no 9908].

Triepeolus helianthi pacificus Cockerell, 1919: 300 [♂]. Synonymy by Rightmyer (2008: 68).

     Holotype ♂. USA, Colorado, Peaceful Valley, 26 August 1918, by W.P. Cockerell [USNM no. 100031].

Triepeolus maculiventris Cockerell, 1921: 11 [♀]. Synonymy by Rightmyer (2008: 68).

     Holotype ♀. USA, Colorado, Mesa Verde National Park, Navajo Canyon, about 6400 ft., 5 July 1919, on Helianthus petiolaris [AMNH no. 25095].

Triepeolus lineatulus Cockerell and Sandhouse, 1924: 306 [♀, ♂]. Synonymy by Rightmyer (2008: 68).

     Holotype ♀. USA, California, Stockton, 20 August 1919, by E.P. Van Duzee [CAS no. 1598].


Taxonomic notes: Robertson (1901: 231) subsequently recognized this as a TriepeolusRobertson, 1901.

Cockerell (1905: 106) realized that he had previously misidentified a specimen as Triepeolus donatus (Smith, 1854) (see Cockerell 1904: 38) that was an undescribed species that he named Triepeolus coquilletti Cockerell, 1905.

Cockerell (1921: 3-4) described variation in size in this species, recognizing two forms (“races”) based on size, the larger forms he placed as Triepeolus helianthi pacificus Cockerell, 1919.

Onuferko (2021) described a form of this species from Manitoba in which the pubescence was much paler than normal.

DNA Barcode Index Number (BIN): BOLD:AAD9824

This BIN is shared with Triepeolus denverensis Cockerell, 1910, Triepeolus michiganensis Mitchell, 1962, and Triepeolus paenepectoralis Viereck, 1905.

Biology: Graenicher (1905) described the larva and reported Melissodes trinodis Robertson, 1901 as a host. Parker et al. (1981) described the egg chorion, prepupae, and , behavior of adults at nests of Melissodes agilis Cresson, 1878. Hurd and Linsley (1959) observed it entering the nest of Melissodes composita Tucker, 1909 (a species not recorded from Canada). Rightmyer (2008) also indicates that Dieunomia heteropoda (Say, 1824) and Nomia melanderi Cockerell, 1906 may also serve as hosts.

Distribution in Canada: Criddle et al. 1924 [AB]; Cockerell 1937iii [AB]; Sheffield et al. 2014 [AB]; Woodcock et al. 2014 [ON]; Onuferko 2021 [MB]; Gibbs et al. 2023 [MB]; BOLD [SK]. 


Cockerell TDA (1905) The bees of southern California. Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences 4: 99-106.

Cockerell TDA (1919) The bees of Peaceful Valley, Colorado. Journal of the New York Entomological Society 27(4): 298-300.

Cockerell TDA (1937) The bees of Alberta.—III. The Canadian Entomologist 69(4): 86-89.

Robertson C (1897) North American bees−descriptions and synonyms. Transactions of the Academy of Sciences of St. Louis 7: 315-356.

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.

Criddle N, Curran CH, Viereck HL, Buckell ER (1924) The entomological record, 1923. Annual Report of the Entomological Society of Ontario 54: 87-102.

Webb DW (1980) Primary insect types in the Illinois Natural History Survey Collection, exclusinve of the Collemboa and Thysanoptera. Illinois Natural History Survey Bulletin 32(2): 55-191.

Cockerell TDA, Sandhouse G (1924) Parasitic bees (Epeolinae and Melectinae) in the collection of the California Academy of Sciences. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences, Series 4 13(19): 305-324.

Graenicher S (1905) Some observations on the life history and habits of parasitic bees. Bulletin of the Wisconsin Natural History Society 3(4): 153-167.

Onuferko TM (2021) Anomalously pale-haired specimens in three genera of cleptoparasitic bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Nomadinae). The Great Lakes Entomologist 54(1): 53-57.

Cockerell TDA (1904) Some parasitic bees. Annals and Magazine of Natural History, Series 7 13(73): 33–42.

Cockerell TDA (1921) The epeoline bees of the American Museum Rocky Mountain expeditions. American Museum Novitates 23: 1–16.

Rightmyer MG (2008) A review of the cleptoparasitic bee genus Triepeolus (Hymenoptera: Apidae).—Part I. Zootaxa 1710: 1-170.

Parker FD, Tepedino VJ, Bohart GE (1981) Notes on the biology of a common sunflower bee, Melissodes (Eumelissodes) agilis Cresson. Journal of the New York Entomological Society 89(1): 43-52.

Sociality: Parasitic
Nesting: Ground
Pollen Specialization: Not Applicable
Wintering Stage: Mature Larva

Crop Preference: Not Available
Non Crop Preference: Grindelia squarrosa, Helianthus petiolaris, Heterotheca sp., Helianthus grosseserratus, Helianthus tuberosus, Heliopsis helianthoides

Distribution: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan
Ecozone: Mixwood Plains, Prairie, Western Interior Basin

Distribution Map