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Leafcutting Bee Damage

FAST FACTS - LEAFCUTTING BEES
by Nanette Londeree, Master Rosarian

SIGNS

  • Moderate-sized (less than inch to nearly one inch long) stout-bodied, black bees with light bands across the abdomen and a covering of pale hairs on the underside
  • Adult insects that resemble honey bees
  • A bee where the abdomen appears light yellow to deep gold in color (when carrying pollen)
  • Individual bee nests in soil, holes in wood, in plant stems, empty snail shells

    SYMPTOMS

  • Semicircular holes in the margins of leaves or blossoms of roses
    Neatly cut to inch circles in leaves of azaleas, ash, redbud, bougainvillea and other plants with thin smooth leaves

    CAUSE

  • Leafcutting bees - Megachile spp

    OPTIMAL CONDITIONS / HABITAT

  • Solitary bees; they do not live in large groups or colonies like honey bees
  • Important native pollinators of many wildflowers; they also pollinate fruits and vegetables and are used as pollinators by commercial growers of blueberries, onions, carrots and alfalfa
  • Hollow twigs and other natural cavities, holes in buildings and occasionally in the ground for nesting
  • Overwinter in nests as newly formed adults

    TREATMENT

    Prevention:

  • None

    Elimination:

  • None bees are important pollinators and should not be killed
  • No effective nonchemical controls are known

    GOOD GUY / BAD GUY?

  • Can be a nuisance by destroying the aesthetics of a plant; rarely harms the plant
  • A good guy as an active pollinator


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    Last Modified: 08/06/2013