Megachile sp Click to enlarge image
Leaf Cutting Bee (Megachile sp, Family Megachilidae). Image: Bruce Hulbert
© Bruce Hulbert

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Genus
    Megachile
    Subfamily
    Megachilinae
    Family
    Megachilidae
    Super Family
    Apoidea
    Suborder
    Apocrita
    Order
    Hymenoptera
    Class
    Insecta
    Subphylum
    Uniramia
    Phylum
    Arthopoda
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Number of Species
    153 described
  • Size Range
    5 - 14 mm

Leafcutter bees in the genus Megachile are common visitors to Sydney gardens where they feed at a number of different flowering plants. Not all of the species in the genus are leafcutters; some construct nests using resin.

Identification

Male Leafcutter Bees have highly modified feet with a number of dark markings. Different species of leafcutter bees have different markings. Females usually have stout mandibles for cutting leaves, large heads in proportion to the body, and stout parallel-sided abdomens.

Habitat

Leafcutter Bees live in urban areas, forests and woodlands, heath.

Distribution

Leafcutter Bees are found in all states and mainland territories. A single species is found on Lord Howe Island.

Life history cycle

Gardeners may notice circular holes in soft-leaved plants, such as roses. These are made by the female leafcutter bee, which uses the leaf to line her nest. She provides each egg she lays with a pollen and nectar mixture, and leaves the eggs to hatch into grubs, which will eat the provisions before pupating.

Breeding behaviours

It is believed that during courtship the male leafcutter bee passes his feet over the female's eyes in a rubbing motion. She uses the patterns to identify the male as the correct species and potential mate.