Minnesota Ants, Bees, Wasps and Sawflies

 
Order Hymenoptera

Hymenoptera is the order of insects that is characterized by having two pairs of membranous wings and an ovipositor specialized for stinging or piercing. The order includes ants, bees, wasps, hornets, sawflies, and horntails.

There are about 125,000 known species worldwide, about 18,000 species in more than 2,000 genera in North America north of Mexico.


black and yellow mud dauber

 

 

           

Recent Additions

 
Downy yellowjacket
   

Downy yellowjacket (Vespula flavopilosa) is an uncommon, medium-sized, predatory, social wasp. It is found in the northeastern United States from Minnesota to Maine, south to Virginia, and along the Appalachian mountains to northern Georgia. It closely resembles eastern yellowjacket. It is thought by some to be a hybrid between eastern and common yellowjackets. Others suggest that it probably arose as a hybrid but now queens mate with drones of the same species.

The overwintering queen emerges from hibernation in April or May. She builds a nest of 20 to 45 cells and cares for the grubs as they hatch. In about 30 days the workers emerge and take over nest building duties. Through spring and summer the queen produces a large number of worker wasps. In mid-summer, the nest grows exponentially, as more and more workers become available, ultimately with 3,500 to 15,000 cells. Only the new queens survive the winter, hibernating under loose tree bark, in a decaying stump, or in another sheltered location.

In eastern North America, four yellowjacket species, common, downy, eastern, and German yellowjackets, closely resemble each other, making identification difficult. Downy yellowjacket is distinguished from the others by a continuous, uninterrupted yellow band on the face below the compound eye; and by the shape and pattern of black markings on the first and second abdominal segments.

  downy yellowjacket
  Photo by Bill Reynolds
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

Two-spotted bumble bee
   

Two-spotted bumble bee (Bombus bimaculatus) is small, colonial bumble bee. It is common in eastern North America and in Minnesota. It emerges very early in the spring and is active until mid-summer.

Two-spotted bumble bee usually nests underground but sometimes in the cavity of a dead tree. Like other bumble bees, it will sting to protect itself or its nest. The stinger is not barbed and the bee can sting multiple times. It feeds on the pollen and nectar of flowers. It has a very long tongue that allows it to feed on nectar of plants with long corolla tubes.

Two-spotted bumble bee is identified by the thorax which is yellow except for a small, round, black spot in the middle; the first abdominal segment is entirely yellow, the second has a broad, yellow, W-shaped spot in the middle, and the remaining (on the female) are all black; and the hairs on the back of the head are yellow.

  two-spotted bumble bee
  Photo by Christa Rittberg
   
   
   
   
   
   

Brown-belted bumble bee
   

Brown-belted bumble bee (Bombus griseocollis) is a small, very common, colonial, ground-nesting bumble bee. It is the second most common bumble bee in eastern North America, after only the common eastern bumble bee. It is less common in Minnesota and the other northernmost states.

Bumble bees are the first bees out in the spring and the last bees out in the fall. Brown-belted bumble bees emerge earlier in the spring than most other bumble bees. They nest in the ground in small colonies of 50 or fewer individuals.

Brown-belted bumble bee is identified by the thorax which is yellow except for a small, round, black spot in the middle; the first abdominal segment is entirely yellow; the second has a single yellow, narrowly U-shaped spot in the middle and a brown band that swoops around the yellow spot; and the remaining are all black.

  northern amber bumble bee
  Photo by Christa Rittberg
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

Oak flake gall wasp
   

There are over 750 species of gall wasps (Family Cynipidae) in North America. They are all tiny and look pretty much alike. Fortunately, most can be identified by the appearance, location, and host species of the abnormal growths (galls) their larvae produce.

Oak flake gall wasp (Neuroterus floccosus) galls are found on the underside of leaves of bur oak and swamp white oak. They occur singly though there are usually several galls on any one leaf. They are hemispherical, thickly hairy, and to 3 16 in diameter including the hairs. The hairs are white at first but soon turn brown. Each gall contains a single chamber and a single wasp larva. It is revealed on the upper leaf surface as a smooth blister-like bump.

  oak flake gall wasp
   
   
   
   
   

Pure green augochlora
   

There are more than 2,000 living species of sweat bee (Family Halictidae) worldwide. They are so named because they are attracted to the sweat of humans. Fortunately, they seldom sting and when they do the sting is minor.

There are four species of Augochlora in the United States, only one of which is found in Minnesota. Pure green augochlora (Augochlora pura) is a moderately-sized, solitary, metallic green sweat bee. It is very common in the eastern half of North America west to Minnesota. It is found from April to October in woodlands and nearby thickets and pastures.

The overwintered mated female emerges in April. Using an existing insect burrow in dead wood as a starting point, she digs a nest consisting of many branched burrows. She places a pollen ball and nectar in each burrow then lays a single egg on the pollen ball. The first generation offspring emerge as adults in June. By the end of June they have constructed their own nests. The larvae or pupa of the last generation overwinter and emerge as adults the following spring. Adult females overwinter beneath rotting logs in a state of diapause. Males die in the fall.

Sweat bees are identified by a short tongue with a short, pointed last segment; single groove below the base of each antenna; lobe at the base of the hindwing longer than the submarginal cell; and basal vein on the wing strongly arched. Pure green augochlora is distinguished by the completely bright metallic green or coppery body; abdomen not conspicuously striped; dark brown, oval-shaped structure at the base of each wing; wing with three submarginal cells, the first longer than the third; marginal cell of the wing squared off at the end; and upper margin of the plate on the upper lip intruded upon by lobes of the plate above it.

  pure green augochlora
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

Other Recent Additions
   

elm sawfly (Cimbex americana)

metallic bluish-green cuckoo wasp (Chrysis angolensis)

eight-toothed cuckoo leaf-cutter bee (Coelioxys octodentata)

alfalfa leafcutting bee (Megachile rotundata)

sand-loving wasp (Tachytes distinctus)

half-black bumble bee (Bombus vagans)

  elm sawfly
   
 
 

Coming Soon

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

           
Profile Photo Video      

     

acorn plum gall wasp (Amphibolips quercusjuglans)

 

alfalfa leafcutting bee

bald-faced hornet

black and yellow mud dauber

brown-belted bumble bee

digger bee (Anthophora terminalis)

dogwood sawfly

downy yellowjacket

eight-toothed cuckoo leaf-cutter bee

elm sawfly

German yellowjacket

great black wasp

half-black bumble bee

metallic bluish-green cuckoo wasp

metallic green bee

northern amber bumble bee

northern paper wasp

oak flake gall wasp

oak rough bulletgall wasp

pelecinid wasp

potter wasp

pure green augochlora

red-belted bumble bee

silky agapostemon

spiny rose stem gall wasp

spongy oak apple gall wasp

tricolored bumble bee

two-spotted bumble bee

western honey bee

wood ant (Formica sp.)

Profile Photo Photo

alfalfa leafcutting bee (Megachile rotundata)

 
     

alternate cuckoo-leaf-cutter bee (Coelioxys alternatus)

 
     

American bumble bee (Bombus pensylvanicus)

 
  Photo Photo

bald-faced hornet (Dolichovespula maculata)

 
     

bellflower resin bee (Megachile campanulae)

 
  Photo Photo

bicolored agapostemon (Agapostemon virescens)

 
  Photo Photo

black and yellow mud dauber (Sceliphron caementarium)

 
     

black-and-gold bumble bee (Bombus auricomus)

 
     

black-and-gray leaf-cutter bee (Megachile melanophaea)

 
     

black-headed ash sawfly (Tethida cordigera)

 
     

blue orchard bee (Osmia lignaria lignaria)

 
     

blue-winged wasp (Scolia dubia)

 
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broad-handed leafcutting bee (Megachile latimanus)

 
Profile Photo Photo

brown-belted bumble bee (Bombus griseocollis)

 
     

brown-headed ash sawfly (Tomostethus multicinctus)

 
     

cherry gall wasp (Cynips quercusfolii)

 
Profile   Photo

common aerial yellowjacket (Dolichovespula arenaria)

 
  Photo Photo

common eastern bumble bee (Bombus impatiens)

 
     

common little leaf-cutter bee (Megachile brevis)

 
     

common yellowjacket (Vespula alascensis)

 
     

confusing bumble bee (Bombus perplexus)

 
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digger bee (Anthophora terminalis)

 
Profile Photo Photo

dogwood sawfly (Macremphytus tarsatus)

 
Profile Photo Photo

downy yellowjacket (Vespula flavopilosa)

 
     

dusky birch sawfly (Croesus latitarsus)

 
Profile Photo Photo

eastern yellowjacket (Vespula maculifrons)

 
Profile Photo Photo

eight-toothed cuckoo leaf-cutter bee (Coelioxys octodentata)

 
     

elm leafminer (Fenusa ulmi)

 
Profile Photo Photo

elm sawfly (Cimbex americana)

 
     

European paper wasp (Polistes dominula)

 
     

European pine sawfly (Neodiprion sertifer)

 
     

forest yellowjacket (Vespula acadica)

 
     

frigid leaf-cutter bee (Megachile frigida)

 
Profile Photo Photo

German yellowjacket (Vespula germanica)

 
     

giant ichneumon (Megarhyssa atrata)

 
     

giant ichneumon (Megarhyssa macrurus)

 
     

gouty oak gall wasp (Callirhytis quercus punctata)

 
     

grass-carrying wasp (Isodontia mexicana)

 
Profile Photo Photo

great black wasp (Sphex pensylvanicus)

 
     

ground hornet (Vespula vidua)

 
Profile Photo Photo

half-black bumble bee (Bombus vagans)

 
     

hawthorn leafminer (Profenusa canadensis)

 
     

Hunt’s bumble bee (Bombus huntii)

 
     

ichneumon wasp (Family Ichneumonidae)

 
     

introduced pine sawfly (Diprion similis)

 
     

jumping oak gall wasp (Neuroterus saltatorius)

 
     

larch sawfly (Pristiphora erichsonii)

 
     

larger empty oak apple wasp (Amphibolips quercusinanis)

 
     

maple petiole borer (Caulocampus acericaulis)

 
Profile Photo  

metallic bluish-green cuckoo wasp (Chrysis angolensis)

 
     

mossy rose gall wasp (Diplolepis rosae)

 
     

mountain ash sawfly (Pristiphora geniculata)

 
Profile Photo  

northern amber bumble bee (Bombus borealis)

 
Profile Photo Photo

northern paper wasp (Polistes fuscatus)

 
Profile Photo  

oak flake gall wasp (Neuroterus floccosus)

 
     

oak gall wasp (Neuroterus exiguissimus)

 
Profile Photo  

oak rough bulletgall wasp (Disholcaspis quercusmamma)

 
     

pear sawfly (Caliroa cerasi)

 
Profile Photo Photo

pelecinid wasp (Pelecinus polyturator)

 
Profile Photo Photo

potter wasp (Eumenes fraternus)

 
     

pugnacious leaf-cutter bee (Megachile pugnata)

 
Profile Photo Photo

pure green augochlora (Augochlora pura)

 
  Photo Photo

pyramid ant (Dorymyrmex insanus)

 
Profile Photo  

red-belted bumble bee (Bombus rufocinctus)

 
     

redheaded pine sawfly (Neodiprion lecontei)

 
     

roseslug sawfly (Endelomyia aethiops)

 
     

rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis)

 
     

Sanderson’s bumble bee (Bombus sandersoni)

 
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sand-loving wasp (Tachytes distinctus)

 
     

sculptured resin bee (Megachile sculpturalis)

 
  Photo  

silky agapostemon (Agapostemon sericeus)

 
     

small-handed leaf-cutter bee (Megachile gemula)

 
Profile Photo Photo

spider wasp (Pompilidae)

 
Profile Photo  

spiny rose stem gall wasp (Diplolepis spinosa)

 
Profile Photo  

spongy oak apple gall wasp (Amphibolips confluenta)

 
Profile Photo Photo

square-headed wasp (Crabroninae)

 
     

thimbleberry stem gall wasp (Diastrophus kincaidii)

 
     

translucent oak gall wasp (Amphibolips nubilipennis)

 
Profile Photo Photo

tricolored bumble bee (Bombus ternarius)

 
Profile Photo Photo

two-spotted bumble bee (Bombus bimaculatus)

 
     

velvet ant (Dasymutilla sp.)

 
  Photo Photo

western honey bee (Apis mellifera)

 
     

western thatching ant (Formica obscuripes)

 
     

white pine sawfly (Neodiprion pinetum)

 
     

willow sawfly (Nematus ventralis)

 
  Photo  

wood ant (Formica sp.)

 
     

wool-bearing gall wasp (Andricus quercuslanigera)

 
     

yellow bumble bee (Bombus fervidus)

 
     

yellow-banded bumble bee (Bombus terricola)

 
     

yellowheaded spruce sawfly (Pikonema alaskensis)

 
     

yellowjacket (Vespula sp.)

 
     

 

 
     

 

 

 

 

No Species Page Yet?

If you do not see a linked page for an insect in the list at left, or the insect does not appear in the list, you can still upload a photo or video as an email attachment or report a sighting for that insect. Click on one of the buttons below and type in the common name and/or scientific name of the insect in your photo, video, or sighting. A new page will be created for that insect featuring your contribution.

 

Capitalization of Common Names

Insect scientific names are governed by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN). Vernacular (common) names are not. In an attempt to “assure the uniformity of (common) names of common insects” the Entomological Society of America (ESA) published Common Names of Insects and Related Organisms. ESA has no rule or guideline that addresses capitalization of common names. However, the database of common names published by ESA does not capitalize common names. National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) also uses uncapitalized common names. Most other sources, including ITIS, BAMONA, Odonata Central, and the Peterson Field Guides, capitalize common insect names. MinnesotaSeasons.com will adhere to the convention followed by ESA and NCBI.

 

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