A Brute of a Bee: Fuzzy-legged Leafcutter Bee

One of the most feisty bees that I have photographed to date: a male Fuzzy-legged Leafcutter Bee (Megachile (Xanthosaurus) melanophaea). Some male leafcutter bees have fur covered front legs, which are used to obscure the eyes of the females during mating.

One of the most feisty bees that I have photographed to date: a male Fuzzy-legged Leafcutter Bee (Megachile (Xanthosaurus) melanophaea). Some male leafcutter bees have fur covered front legs, which are used to obscure the eyes of the females during mating. © Clay Bolt | beautifulbees.org | claybolt.com

This past September I paid a visit to Madison, Wisconsin where I was searching for the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee (Bombus affinis); a species that is in serious decline due to an introduced pathogen. I was fortunate to not only find the RPBB but also many other species that share the same habitat. One insect that really made an impression on me was this male Fuzzy-legged Leafcutter Bee (Megachile melanophaea). Most bees are more interested in escaping once I’ve netted them for photography. However this impressive creature stood his ground with mandibles barred, daring me to come closer. After a few images, I released him to go on his way and find a mate before the season came to an end. Like a few other species of leafcutter bee, males of this species use their very fuzzy front legs to cover the eyes of the female during mating. It is assumed that this occurs to keep her from seeing other males that she might prefer over her current suitor.

Comments are closed.