Melissodes desponsa

Digger Bee
Melissodes desponsus

Identification:

Digger or Long-horned Bee Melissodes desponsa female on Blanketflower. July 21, 2009 Wheatley, Ontario.
Digger or Long-horned Bee Melissodes desponsa female on Blanketflower. July 21, 2009 Wheatley, Ontario.

Female:
Head: Upper face has pale yellow hair. Top of head (vertex) has dark hairs. Back of head has line of yellow hair. Lower face (clypeus) has short black hair; clypeus projecting. Cheeks black.
Antenna: Base (scape) black. Segments black on top side; segments 2 to 10 brownish-yellow on underside. Segment 1 almost twice as long as 2.
Thorax: Collar yellow. Segment 1 (scutum) yellow, except for a small spot of black hair on lower part of segment. Segment 2 (scutellum) yellow; usually has a patch of black hair at center. Segment 3 (propodeum) sides black, center spot yellow. Thorax sides mostly black with pale yellow from shoulder pad to below wing base.
Wings: Wing knobs (tegulae) light brown. Wings very lightly tinted. Veins reddish-brown.

Digger or Long-horned Bee Melissodes desponsa female on Blanketflower. July 21, 2009 Wheatley, Ontario.
Digger or Long-horned Bee Melissodes desponsa female on Blanketflower. July 21, 2009 Wheatley, Ontario.

Legs: Hair on legs mostly black. Pollen basket has pale yellowish hairs not very feathery; base and tip with extensive dark brown hair. Note: If collecting on thistle, pollen on legs appears white. Underside of hind leg and feet reddish-brown to black.
Abdomen: No white hair band stripes. Lower margin of segments slightly reddish.
Segment 1 has short pale hairs at base.
Segment 2 has sparse, white fringe at base; lower half smooth, unpitted, shiny.
Rest of abdomen has sparse black hair.

Digger or Long-horned Bee Melissodes desponsa male on Blanketflower. July 09, 2009 Wheatley, Ontario.
Digger or Long-horned Bee Melissodes desponsa male on Blanketflower. July 09, 2009 Wheatley, Ontario.

Male:
Head: Upper face has pale yellow hairs. Top of head (vertex) has dark hair. Lower face (clypeus) yellow, projecting with dark hairs on each side, extending to cover cheeks. Mandibles black with an orange tip.
Antenna: Base (scape) black. Segments very long, black on top side, underside of 2 to 11 brownish-yellow. Segment 1 very short.
Thorax: Entire thorax has thick pale yellow. Thorax sides with some black near legs.

Digger or Long-horned Bee Melissodes desponsa male on Blanketflower. July 09, 2009 Wheatley, Ontario.
Digger or Long-horned Bee Melissodes desponsa male on Blanketflower. July 09, 2009 Wheatley, Ontario.

Wings: Wing knobs (tegulae) black. Wings very lightly tinted, veins brown to dark brown.
Legs: Entirely black, except underside of hind shin (tibiae) pale. Feet reddish-brownish.
Abdomen: Lower margins slightly reddish-brown.
Segment 1 has thick, long pale yellow hair across the base half, with short black hairs at side edges.
Segment 2 may have short white fringe at base. Rest of abdomen has black hair.

Similar Species: Melissodes dentiventris female has yellow hair on cheeks and all legs. Melissodes desponsa female has black cheeks, front and mid legs. M. dentiventris male has all yellow legs. M. desponsa male has entirely black legs.

Size: Female 12 to 13.5 mm. Male 11 to 13.5 mm

Habitat: Forest edges and meadows.

Food: Feed on nectar of many flower, but a specialist colleting pollen for its nest provision only from thistles Cirsium, Cnicus and Carduus.

Flight Time: Mid July to September

Life Cycle: Nests made in the ground.
Parasite: Cuckoo Bee Triepeolus donatus – (John S. Ascher, in lit. 2004, unpublished data from observations and specimens in New York state).

Comments: Essex County – photos. Kent County – Rondeau Provincial Park. Niagara Peninsula, Toronto to Kingston. Also southern Michigan (Livingston County).
For information on synonyms, references and type specimens see next page

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