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Identification of Eastern North American Bee Genera in the Family Halictidae


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A guide to the identification of Eastern North American Bee Genera in the Family Halictidae. Includes descriptions, pictures, and identification tips

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Identification of Eastern North American Bee Genera in the Family Halictidae

  1. 1. A guide to their Identification in Eastern North America
  2. 2. Acknowledgements <ul><li>This presentation has been put together by a consortium of North American bee biologists </li></ul><ul><li>This presentation has developed over many years and the original web picture acknowledgements were lost, if you see one of your pictures let us know and we will add your picture credit </li></ul><ul><li>Correspondence can be sent to Sam Droege at </li></ul>
  3. 3. Format <ul><li>Each Genus has an information page followed by a page of illustrations and a map of the distribution of Eastern North American species; western populations of Eastern species are shown, but the Western species are not mapped. </li></ul><ul><li>The number of Eastern species are listed at the top of the page </li></ul>
  4. 4. Halictidae Groups of Genera <ul><li>Agapostemon – 4 species </li></ul><ul><li>Augochlora pura - 1 </li></ul><ul><li>Augochlorella - 3 </li></ul><ul><li>Augochloropsis - 3 </li></ul><ul><li>Halictus – 6 </li></ul><ul><li>Lasioglossum – 115 or so </li></ul><ul><li>Sphecodes – 34 or so </li></ul><ul><li>Dieunomia - 3 </li></ul><ul><li>Nomia - 2 </li></ul><ul><li>Dufourea - 3 </li></ul>
  5. 5. Agapostemon <ul><li>Larger than the other bright green halictids </li></ul><ul><li>Has a prominent raised line or carina that circles the OUTSIDE of the rear face of the propodeum </li></ul><ul><li>Males with alternating bands of black and yellow on the abdomen </li></ul><ul><li>Common in fields, much less common in urban areas </li></ul><ul><li>A. virescens is usually the most common and females easy to identify because of its black abdomen (the others are green) </li></ul><ul><li>Males and green females take some practice to differentiate due to often subtle differences </li></ul><ul><li>Similar genera: Augochlora, Augochlorella, Augochloropsis </li></ul>
  6. 6. Agapostemon – 4 Biggest of the green bees Common Fields Male Female
  7. 7. Augochlora pura <ul><li>Common, particularly in wooded regions, nests in decaying logs </li></ul><ul><li>Shape and color (all black) of the tip of the female’s mandibles is distinctive </li></ul><ul><li>Rim of S4 in the males is straight across unlike the concave or emarginate shape of S4 in Augochlorella , its most common look-alike </li></ul><ul><li>Clipped tip of the marginal cell is useful when processing many specimens, but Augochloropsis also has this feature </li></ul><ul><li>Similar genera: Augochlorella, Augochloropsis, Agapostemon </li></ul>
  8. 8. Augochlora pura – Woodlands and edges Common, trimmed tip of marginal cell Female Male
  9. 9. Augochlorella <ul><li>Usually the most common bright green bee </li></ul><ul><li>A. aurata, the most common, but care must be taken to pull out the other 2 species where their ranges overlap </li></ul><ul><li>The smallest of all the green Halictids </li></ul><ul><li>Males have a concave S4 rim </li></ul><ul><li>Tip of marginal cell lays directly on the rim, a good character for sorting out the common green bees </li></ul><ul><li>Similar genera: Augochlora, Augochloropsis, Agapostemon </li></ul>
  10. 10. Augochlorella – In Every Field - 3 Way Abundant!
  11. 11. Augochloropsis <ul><li>Regular, but usually the least common of the bright green bees </li></ul><ul><li>Some species and individuals can take on distinct blue/purple metallic overtones </li></ul><ul><li>A. metallica is the most common, but recent genetic analyses indicate that there is more than one species involved </li></ul><ul><li>The non-oval tegula is distinctive and easy to see </li></ul><ul><li>The band of straight hairs (fimbria) fringing the rims of the tergites is usually distinctive in most specimens, but can be very sparse in some </li></ul><ul><li>Tip of marginal cell is trimmed similar to Augochlora pura </li></ul><ul><li>Similar genera: Agapostemon, Augochlorella, Augochlora </li></ul>
  12. 12. Augochloropsis – Least Common - 3 Green Bee
  13. 13. Halictus <ul><li>Some of the most common bees, usually associated with fields </li></ul><ul><li>The large headed H. ligatus and its look-alike H. poeyi have distinct projections on their lower cheeks that makes identification easy </li></ul><ul><li>Because H. confusus is a dull metallic green rather than black or brown it is often confused with Lasioglossum species in the Dialictus group </li></ul><ul><li>Told from Lasioglossum by having all of the crossveins of the submarginal cells being the same thickness and having the short, thick, white, appressed hairs that lie on the surface of the abdomen originating on the RIM of the tergites rather than from the base </li></ul><ul><li>Similar genera: Lasioglossum </li></ul>
  14. 14. Halictus – Every Open Place - 6 Abundant
  15. 15. Lasioglossum <ul><li>Overall the most common group of bees encountered when using bowl traps, because they are very small they are often netted at relatively lower numbers </li></ul><ul><li>Many of the most common species are only 4-6mm in size </li></ul><ul><li>All species have at least the outermost crossvein in the outer submarginal cell thinner or weaker than the other veins; unfortunately, in males this character is much less clear </li></ul><ul><li>Told from Halictus by the weakened crossvein(s) of the submarginal cells and having the short, thick, white, appressed hairs that lie on the surface of the abdomen originating on the BASE of the tergites rather than from the rim, often this results in a band of white hairs emerging from UNDERNEATH the rim of the preceding segment </li></ul><ul><li>Some species, however, lack these appressed hairs completely </li></ul><ul><li>This group is being revised and several species changes will be made over the coming years </li></ul><ul><li>Similar genera: Halictus </li></ul>
  16. 16. Lasioglossum Groups <ul><li>There are several groups within Lasioglossum that, in the past, have, at times, been given genera status </li></ul><ul><li>Sensu strictu – Very large, Black, one weakened crossvein </li></ul><ul><li>Evylaeus – Black, 2 weakened crossveins </li></ul><ul><li>Dialictus – Blue, green, gold, 2 weakened crossveins, identification to species often difficult </li></ul><ul><li>Paralictus – Blue or green, parasitic, 2 weakened crossveins </li></ul><ul><li>Sphecodogastra – Black, Oenothera specialists, sparse scopal hairs </li></ul><ul><li>Hemihalictus – 2 submarginal cells </li></ul>
  17. 17. Lasioglossum - 115 Abundant, many species, everywhere, difficult id’s
  18. 18. You too can see weak veins – OK maybe not – In this male only the last vein is weakened and its hard to detect
  19. 19. Some Black Lasioglossums Sensu Strictu Group Evylaeus Group Evylaeus Group
  20. 20. Sphecodes <ul><li>All species are regular but uncommon and parasitic on other Halictid species </li></ul><ul><li>While the females do not have pollen carrying hairs per se , their rear legs contain a fair amount of short hair which upon very close inspection often contain small short spines along the length of the tibia </li></ul><ul><li>Almost all of the females are characterized by a red to orange-red abdomen, however, many males are entirely black, but can be told by heavy surface sculpturing and widely spaced antennae </li></ul><ul><li>None of the species have the small, thick, white, appressed hairs found in Halictus and Lasioglossum </li></ul><ul><li>All wing veins are the same thickness (strong) in a similar way to Halictus </li></ul><ul><li>Identification to species is difficult and several taxonomic issues at the species level remain unresolved </li></ul><ul><li>This group is being revised and several species changes will be made over the coming years </li></ul><ul><li>Similar genera: Lasioglossum, Halictus </li></ul>
  21. 21. Sphecodes – 34 - Lasioglossum parasite ALMOST all with red red abdomen
  22. 22. Dufourea <ul><li>Extremely uncommon group of species in the East </li></ul><ul><li>The low placement of the antennae on the face is distinctive, particularly in conjunction with the wide clypeus </li></ul><ul><li>Has a pre-episternal groove, which most other species lack but unfortunately is often difficult to see </li></ul><ul><li>Similar genera: Halictus </li></ul>
  23. 23. Dufourea - 3 Uncommon plant specialists
  24. 24. Dieunomia <ul><li>Uncommon to rare group of summer and fall species </li></ul><ul><li>Very large, the size of bumblebees </li></ul><ul><li>Often specialists on composites such as sunflowers and almost always associated with sandy soils </li></ul><ul><li>The arched basal vein so prominent in most of the other genera of Halictids is weak to absent </li></ul><ul><li>Males have greatly modified legs with flanges and extensions to the normal tibia shape, consequently, often mistaken for wasps </li></ul><ul><li>Females have non-oval tegulae and often have scopal hairs on the underside of their abdomen in addition to those on their legs </li></ul><ul><li>Similar genera: Andrena, Melitta </li></ul>
  25. 25. Dieunomia - 3 Sand specialists, large uncommon, composites
  26. 26. Nomia <ul><li>Uncommon to rare group of species in the East </li></ul><ul><li>The mother-of-pearl band along the rims of the tergal segments is distinctive </li></ul><ul><li>Some males have expanded and flanged tibiae similar to Dieunomia </li></ul><ul><li>Similar genera: None </li></ul>
  27. 27. Nomia – Pearl Rims - 2 Southern, uncommon
  28. 28. Resources <ul><li>Species lists, Identification Guides, and Maps for genera and species are available at: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>A guide to the genera of the bees of Canada is available at: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Mitchell’s 1960’s books on the bees of the Eastern United States is available as a series of pdf files at: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>A slightly out of date guide to the identification of the genera of ALL of North and Central America is available at: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>