Leafcutting Bees

Pest Type: Insect

Damage to Plant: Larvae have chewing mouthparts and adults have more complex mouthparts. Adult females cut circular or elongate pieces from leaves, particularly from rose, but also from azalea, ash, bougainvillea, redbud, and other cultivated and wild plants. Uses leaf pieces to construct walls and partitions of nesting cells in which young develop. Nests are located in hollow twigs, other natural cavities, holes in buildings and occasionally in the ground. Cells are provisioned by adults with nectar and pollen collected from flowers. Artificial nesting sites can be made by drilling holes of the appropriate size in boards, or by using bundles of large soda straws.

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Description: Adults resemble honey bees. They are mostly black with light bands across the abdomen and a covering of pale hairs on the underside. Females carry pollen on stiff yellow hairs on the underside of the abdomen rather than on the sides of the hind legs like honey bees. Leafcutting bees can be distinguished from other bees by their wing venation (they have two submarginal cells of equal length).They use pieces of leaves for the materials they build their nest cells from (soil or leaves, respectively).

Life Cycle: They are solitary nesters. Females stack cylindrical, blunt-ended leaf-lined cells in deep nesting holes. One egg is laid in each cell. A white, legless, grub-like larvae hatches from the egg and develops through several stages (instars) before pupating within the cell. Cells are stacked end-to-end. Some species of leafcutting bees are parasitic.

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