Hoplitis pilosifrons

Leaf-cutter Bee
Hoplitis pilosifrons

Leaf-cutter Bee Hoplitis pilosifrons female on Fleabane. June 07, 2014 Wheatley, Ontario.
Leaf-cutter Bee Hoplitis pilosifrons female on Fleabane. June 07, 2014 Wheatley, Ontario.

Identification:
Head: Black, with short pale hair around antenna base and on lower cheeks. Area above mouth (clypeus) convex, long, extending beyond head. Mandibles with 3 teeth. Cheeks as wide as eye width. Male has dense hair over most of face, more yellowish. Mandibles have 2 teeth.

Leaf-cutter Bee Hoplitis pilosifrons male on Fleabane. June 22, 2010 Celista, British Columbia.
Leaf-cutter Bee Hoplitis pilosifrons male on Fleabane. June 22, 2010 Celista, British Columbia.

Antenna: Female: Black, all segments equal in length. Underside more brownish-yellow. Tips not pointed like the male.
Male: Base (scape) thick, swollen, widening at center. Segments thick, wider than long. Tips curved and indented forming a thin sharp point. Antenna brownish-yellow on underside.
Thorax: Black with short, pale hair. Hair much longer on male.Wings: Wings: Wing knobs (tegulae) shiny black. Wings tinted, slightly darker along outer margin. Veins brownish.
Legs: Entirely black. Feet have cream-coloured hair on underside of female. Males have short, white hairs on legs, reddish toes.

Leaf-cutter Bee Hoplitis pilosifrons male on Oxeye Daisy. June 06, 2014 Wheatley, Ontario.
Leaf-cutter Bee Hoplitis pilosifrons male on Oxeye Daisy. June 06, 2014 Wheatley, Ontario.

Abdomen: Black, long, shiny. Segments 1 to 4 have white hair bands along lower margin of segments. Usually bands on 1 and 2 interrupted, others entire. Tip has thin fringe of white hair. Underside covered with yellowish-white hair (pollen basket). Male similar, with hair along side edges of abdomen; underside without hair and a large projection on underside of segment 2. Last few segments curled under, toothed.

Size: Female 6.5 to 8.5 mm. Male 7 to 8.5 mm.

Habitat: Forest edges and meadows.

Food: Prefers Beard-tongue Penstemon, other flowers like Dewberry Rubus, Fleabane and clover.

Flight Time: Mid May to July

Life Cycle: Nests in dead stems like Dewberry, Raspberry and Sunflower Helianthus. Females remove pith from stems and carry it about 1 to 3 feet away from nest before dropping it. Females partition cells in the stem by cutting leaves, but chewing them to form a pulp.
Parasite: Cuckoo Leaf-cutter Stelis lateralis.

Comments: Essex County – Ojibway Prairies, Lake Erie Islands, Point Pelee. Kent County – Rondeau Provincial Park. Also in Peel County and southern Michigan.

For information on synonyms, references and type specimens see next page

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