Megachile (Megachile)

Taxonomy

Family: Megachilidae
Subfamily: Megachilinae
Tribe: Megachilini
Genus: Megachile Latreille, 1802
Subgenus: Megachile Latreille, 1802
Common name: none

Overview

Megachile (Megachile) are “ordinary-looking” bees with black integument, primarily pale hair on their bodies, and white apical hair bands on their terga (Michener 2007). They range in body length from 7–20 mm (Michener 2007).

Diagnostic characteristics

(modified from Michener 2007; Praz 2017)

  • Female mandible is four- or five-toothed with an incomplete cutting edge in the second interspace (except in Megachile montivaga, which has no cutting edges) and usually no visible cutting edge in the third interspace.
  • Female scopa usually orange-red on S1S4, although it can sometimes be white and can be black on S6 and often S5.
  • Female sterna without apical hair bands beneath the scopa.
  • Female T6 usually straight in profile.
  • Female tarsal claw with two basal setae, the innermost setae modified to a short thickened process.
  • Male front coxa without a spine.
  • Male mandible three-toothed, often with a basal projection on the lower margin.
  • Male T6 with preapical carina smooth, not denticulate, and sometimes emarginate medially.

May be confused with

Megachile (Megachile) is similar looking to Megachile (Litomegachile) in their general appearance with overall pale hair and tapered abdomen with white apical hair bands (Michener 2007). Female M. (Megachile) can be differentiated by their mandibles, which do not have the cutting edges in the third interspace that are present in M. (Litomegachile). Male M. (Megachile) can be separated by the front coxa that does not have a spine (Michener 2007).

Host associations

Megachile (Megachile) have been observed visiting flowers from multiple plant families, including Apiaceae, Asteraceae, Cactaceae, Campanulaceae, Cardueae, Cucurbitaceae, Ericaceae, Fabaceae, Geraniaceae, Malvaceae, Onagraceae, Ranunculaceae, Rosaceae, Rubiaceae, Solanaceae, and Verbenaceae (Mitchell 1935b; Müller and Bansac 2004).

Nesting behavior

Megachile (Megachile) nest in pre-existing cavities in wood or pithy stems, or excavate their own cavities in sandy soils; some species are flexible in their choice of nest site and will nest in either cavities above ground or in soil (Mitchell 1935a; Sheffield and Westby 2007; Praz 2017). Brood cells are usually constructed using small, circular pieces of leaves (Gonzalez 2008). Megachile (Megachile) montivaga is unique in that it is known to use flower petals instead of leaves to make its nest cells (Michener 2007; Orr et al. 2015).

Diversity

Megachile (Megachile) includes 31 species (Ascher and Pickering 2020).

Known invasives

There are no known invasives.

Distribution

Megachile (Megachile) is Holarctic and can be found throughout North America and Europe, as well as northern Africa and Asia. They primarily occur in cool areas (Michener 2007).

Distribution
​Distribution map generated by Discover Life -- click on map for details, credits, and terms of use.

<p><em>Megachile montivaga </em>male face, photo: Colleen Meidt</p>
Megachile montivaga male face, photo: Colleen Meidt
<p><em>Megachile montivaga </em>male lateral habitus, photo: Colleen Meidt</p>
Megachile montivaga male lateral habitus, photo: Colleen Meidt
<p><em>Megachile montivaga </em>male abdomen, photo: Colleen Meidt</p>
Megachile montivaga male abdomen, photo: Colleen Meidt
<p><em>Megachile tsurugensis </em>female face, photo: Shaun Heller</p>
Megachile tsurugensis female face, photo: Shaun Heller
<p><em>Megachile tsurugensis </em>female lateral habitus, photo: Shaun Heller</p>
Megachile tsurugensis female lateral habitus, photo: Shaun Heller
<p><em>Megachile tsurugensis </em>female abdomen, photo: Shaun Heller</p>
Megachile tsurugensis female abdomen, photo: Shaun Heller
<p><em>Megachile tsurugensis </em>male face, photo: Shaun Heller</p>
Megachile tsurugensis male face, photo: Shaun Heller
<p><em>Megachile tsurugensis </em>male lateral habitus, photo: Shaun Heller</p>
Megachile tsurugensis male lateral habitus, photo: Shaun Heller
<p><em>Megachile tsurugensis </em>male abdomen, photo: Shaun Heller</p>
Megachile tsurugensis male abdomen, photo: Shaun Heller
<p><em>Megachile montivaga</em> male face, photo: Joshua Hengel</p>
Megachile montivaga male face, photo: Joshua Hengel
<p><em>Megachile montivaga</em> female face, photo: Joshua Hengel</p>
Megachile montivaga female face, photo: Joshua Hengel
<p><em>Megachile inermis</em> female mandibles, photo: Joshua Hengel</p>
Megachile inermis female mandibles, photo: Joshua Hengel
<p><em>Megachile montivaga</em> female S6, photo: Joshua Hengel</p>
Megachile montivaga female S6, photo: Joshua Hengel