Currently viewing the category: "Mason Bees and Leafcutter Bees"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Leafcutter Bee?
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
May 31, 2014 4:11 pm
Hi –
Our neighbor’s front yard hill appears to have been colonized by bees. After doing some research, I think they are leafcutter bees, as they very diligently drag small circles of leaves into tunnels just barely big enough to admit them, and as they ignore the people around them, even when walking past carrying stuff as new renters move in, or even once going down the hill, burying some of the tunnels.
The entire hill in the first picture is riddled with holes, seems like 100’s of them. The tunnels fill the space between the stairs and our lower yard, but they stop there, and I do not see any holes in our yard. There are a few beyond the stairs, by the low retaining wall, above the mulched area. In between the houses is a stand of Japanese Knotwood that I keep intending to go after, but they are very stubborn, and I wonder if those are the draw for the bees?
I hope you can confirm this (or give me another possibility), and I hope you have some suggestions to encourage them to find other nesting / denning locations, as the landlord is determined to exterminate them with a spray come Monday.
I’ve included a shot of the whole hill, one picture that has the bee (it was tough to get a good pic, both because my iTouch camera is not the greatest, and bc they move fast!), and in the last pic I finally caught one of the leaves that was being dragged into the tunnel – it’s in the upper left, curled to the left rather in a rather conical shape.
They are fascinating to watch, and I hate to see them go, but I understand the desire not to have the colony so close to the front door of the house. I just want to know if there’s a way to discourage them from living there, without killing them.
Help?
Thanks!
Signature: Pioden

Leaf Cutter Bee

Leaf Cutter Bee

Dear Pioden,
The behavior you describe is exactly that of solitary Leaf Cutter Bees in the family Megachilidae (see BugGuide), but we are unable to determine the species based on your images even though the images document the behavior you have described.  We cannot think of any way to deter the Leaf Cutter Bees from their nesting site.  Though solitary in nest construction, these bees are will often nest in close proximity to others of the species.  We are sorry to hear about your landlord’s eradication plan.  The Leaf Cutter Bees do not live in the nest as the nest is strictly provisioned for the progeny.

Leaf Cutter Bee taking leaf into nest

Leaf Cutter Bee taking leaf into nest

Thanks for your reply! I’m hoping to get out there today with a better camera, see if I can get a few good shots of them.
Where do the bees then “sleep”, or overnight?  There is a large stand or Japanese knotwood nearby, do you think that has anything to do with them?
Natalie Beversluis

Hi Natalie,
The Leaf Cutter Bees will seek shelter in shrubbery and other locations during the night.  The stand of Japanese knotwood might have some bearing on the presence of he bees.

 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: leaf cutter bee preservation
May 31, 2014 8:19 am
Using your wonderful site, I believe I have identified a leaf cutter bee making its nest in a drainage hole  of one of my plants. I noticed her several days ago frequently visiting the hole. Now, she is diligently bringing leaves into the hole presumably to line its burrows for egg laying.
My concern is watering the plant-I’m afraid I will “drown” the offspring/eggs. Should I seal the hole when I know the bee is gone to encourage it to go elsewhere or will the eggs survive waterings?
She is proividing me with hours of entertainment but I don’t want to destroy her eggs.
Signature: Maary Beth

Leaf Cutter Bee (image from our archives)

Leaf Cutter Bee (image from our archives)

Dear Maary Beth,
We believe the Leaf Cutter Bee in question scouted for the perfect location for her nest, and your potted plant is ideal because of the moisture level.  As you can see from this image from our archives, Leaf Cutter Bees occasionally build nests in potted plants.

Thank you for your response. I am relieved to know we can happily cohabitate. That little creature is amazing. I hope to greet her offspring when they emerge. Mary Beth

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Honey bee?
Location: Houston, TX
November 23, 2013 7:53 pm
I put a log on the fire and, sadly, it was inhabited by this bee. It was stuck in the fireplace screen and when I tried to remove it, it’s head fell off. I tried to put it back together. It seems larger and darker than a regular honey bee, but not quite a bumblebee. Suggestions? Thanks!
Signature: treyzmama

Leaf-Cutting Bee

Leaf-Cutting Bee

Dear treyzmama,
This appears to be a Leaf-Cutting Bee in the genus
Megachile.  According to BugGuide:  “Most nest in pre-existent holes in wood. Female typically cuts neat, more-or-less round pieces out of leaves to serve as separators between cells of nest.”  There was most likely a nest in the log you threw on the fire.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Planting Cosmos
Location:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
November 18, 2013
We used to have Cosmos flowers that naturalized in our garden many years ago after an initial planting in around 2001.  The seeds would drop and we would get new plants each year.  One especially wet year, they grew to well over six feet tall.  Cosmos is an excellent plant for attracting pollinating insects.  We even posted photos of a female Leafcutter Bee on our blossoms in 2006.  Alas, for the past two years we have not had any Cosmos come up on its own, and we didn’t make the effort to purchase any new seeds.

Leaf Cutter Bee on Cosmos

Leaf Cutter Bee on Cosmos

Then several weeks ago, we identified a Cuckoo Leafcutter Bee  for Anna in Hawthorne, and she offered to send us some seeds.  They arrived a few days ago and we have been planting Cosmos seeds among the winter vegetables we put in this weekend, beginning with carrots and onions.  We hope to be able to provide you with photos of insects visiting our Cosmos in the near future.  This is a good time to plant Cosmos in Southern California, but this charming annual can be grown throughout North America, and we would strongly suggest Cosmos as an ideal plant for a bug friendly garden.

Cuckoo Leafcutter Bee

Cuckoo Leafcutter Bee

 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Daniel – Bee or Wasp or Bee Wasp?
Location: Hawthorne, CA
October 15, 2013 9:33 pm
Hi Daniel,
This was on the Cosmos blooms in back today. I think it’s not the same sand wasp that we submitted a while back, but is it in the same family?
Signature: Thanks, Anna Carreon

Possibly Scarab Hunter Wasp

Cuckoo Leaf Cutter Bee

Hi Anna,
Your recent photos are inspiring us to plant cosmos in the garden again.  We planted them many years ago, and one year they were about six feet tall.  They naturalized, but over the years, they have stopped coming up on their own.  We may have to plant a pack of seeds this winter.  This wasp reminds us of a male Scarab Hunter Wasp,
Campsomeris tolteca, that we photographed on native baccharis in Elyria Canyon Park several years ago.  The photo on BugGuide is much clearer than the photos we took.  We will check with Eric Eaton to see if this is a closely related species or if we are totally in left field.

Possibly Scarab Hunter Wasp

Cuckoo Leaf Cutter Bee

Eric Eaton Provides a Correction:  Cuckoo Leaf Cutter Bee
Daniel:
This is way smaller than a Campsomeris.  It is a cuckoo leafcutter bee, genus Coelioxys.  This one is a female.  Males have a blunt tip to the abdomen, though there are often teeth or spikes on the tip.
Eric

Hi Daniel,
I’m glad you are thinking of planting cosmos.  We make it a point to keep it around, as it attracts many “new to us” bugs.  Additionally, the Lesser Goldfinches and American Goldfinches hungrily partake of the seeds.  Our cosmos are about my height this year, 5′ 8″.  We can send you seeds if you wish . . .
I’m most likely incorrect, but I don’t think this wasp is Campsomeris tolteca.  It’s coloring is more that of the sand wasp in the family Bembix, and it doesn’t seem to have as “hairy” a body as the Campsomeris tolteca.  2013/10/04/sand-wasp-8/.  We hope Eric Eaton has time to respond, and thank you once again.
Anna

Hi Anna,
It would be so sweet of you to send cosmos seeds.  We think we will take you up on the offer.

Daniel and Eric,
Oh, joy!  I’m excited to have an id for a “new to us” bug.  Thank you.
Anna

Hi Daniel,
I will start collecting soon.  You are most kind.
Anna

 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Leaf cutter bee in AZ
Location: Phoenix, AZ
May 31, 2013 1:16 pm
I found this bee nesting in a crack of my window and foolishly killed it thinking it was going to sting me. I pulled out the dead bee and its little leaf nest and decided to look it up online and found out it is either a mason bee or a leaf cutter bee. I live in Phoenix, AZ and I could not find any pictures of native leaf cutter bees that looked liked this one. The closest ones I found were species from Africa or the Middle East.
Could you please tell me if that is what this is?
Signature: Daniel Mistrot

Leaf-Cutter Bee and Nest

Leaf-Cutter Bee and Nest

Hi Daniel,
We are more generalists here at What’s That Bug? than we are specificists when it comes to identifications.  We aren’t qualified to take this Leaf-Cutter Bee in the family Megachilidae to the species level.  Your photo is a nice documentation of the adult imago, larva and nest.  Leaf-Cutter Bees frequently nest in sash windows.  We are sad you were frightened of the bee and ended its life and we hope you will be more tolerant in the future.  Leaf-Cutter Bees are not aggressive.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination