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.


dogwood sawfly

 

 

           

Recent Additions

 
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
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

Elm sawfly
   

There are about 9,000 living species of sawflies worldwide. Elm sawfly (Cimbex americana) is the largest sawfly in North America. Adults are found in woodlands across the continent from mid-May to mid-August. As the common name suggests, they feed mostly on elm and willow, but also other hardwoods including maple, birch, and American basswood. Larvae feed on the leaves. Adults use their powerful mandibles to cut horizontal gashes in the bark of twigs and small branchlets in order to feed on sap. They sometimes girdle the limb, causing it to die. They can cause sporadic defoliation but are not considered forest pests.

Sawflies are not flies. True flies (order Diptera) have just one pair of wings. Sawflies have two pairs of wings and are more closely related to ants, bees, and wasps (order Hymenoptera). Adults are distinguished by the parallel-sided body (not waisted like a wasp), and by special structures that help hold the forewings in place when at rest. Larvae are distinguished by six or more pairs or leg-like structures on the abdomen, and a smooth head with no cleavage line.

Elm sawfly is identified by the large size and orange, slightly clubbed antennae with 7 or fewer segments.

  elm sawfly
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

Half-black bumble bee
   

Half-black bumble bee (Bombus vagans) is a common, small, colonial, ground-nesting bumble bee. It is found in shady forests wooded areas, urban parks, wetlands, and gardens from June to August and possibly later. The nests are annual—only mated queens overwinter, emerging from hibernation in May. They build nests mostly underground but sometimes on the surface of the ground or in hollow trees.

As the common name suggests, this bumble bee is half black. The head, thorax, and first two abdominal segments are yellow. The rest of the abdomen is black. Other identifying features of this species are a small, round, black spot on the thorax; the top of the lateral simple eyes in line with the top of the compound eyes; and the area on the face corresponding to the cheek longer than wide.

  half-black bumble bee
  Photo by Bill Reynolds
   
   

Northern amber bumble bee
   

Northern amber bumble bee (Bombus borealis) is a large, frequently found, colonial, ground-nesting bumble bee. It is found in woodlands from May to September. The abundance of this species has decreased 7.11% across North America when comparing historical records (1802 to 2001) to current records (2002 to 2012). This is not considered a serious decline and supports the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) ranking of Least Concern. In Minnesota, the story is a little different. The extent of occurrence (EOO) of this species in Minnesota has contracted significantly. The historical EOO shows the range to include all but the far southwestern corner of the state. The current EOO shows no occurrences south of a line from the North Metro area in the east to Breckenridge on the western border.

This species is identified by conspicuous yellow hairs on the top of the head and on the face; a black stripe on the thorax between the bases of the wings; brownish-gray hairs on the sides of the thorax; four yellow and two black abdominal segments on the female; and the top of the lateral simple eyes in line with the top of the compound eyes.

  northern amber bumble bee
  Photo by Bill Reynolds
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

Other Recent Additions
   

silky agapostemon (Agapostemon sericeus)

northern paper wasp (Polistes fuscatus)

eastern yellowjacket (Vespula maculifrons)

German yellowjacket (Vespula germanica)

spider wasp (Pompilidae)

leafcutting bee (Megachile latimanus)

  northern paper wasp
  Photo by Bill Reynolds
 
 

Coming Soon

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

           
Profile Photo Video      

     

acorn plum gall wasp (Amphibolips quercusjuglans)

 

bald-faced hornet

digger bee (Anthophora terminalis)

dogwood sawfly

elm sawfly

German yellowjacket

great black wasp

half-black bumble bee

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

western honey bee

wood ant (Formica sp.)

     

American bumble bee (Bombus pensylvanicus)

 
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bald-faced hornet (Dolichovespula maculata)

 
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bicolored agapostemon (Agapostemon virescens)

 
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black and yellow mud dauber (Sceliphron caementarium)

 
     

black-and-gold bumble bee (Bombus auricomus)

 
     

black-headed ash sawfly (Tethida cordigera)

 
     

blue orchard bee (Osmia lignaria lignaria)

 
     

blue-winged wasp (Scolia dubia)

 
     

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 yellowjacket (Vespula alascensis)

 
     

common wasp (Vespula vulgaris)

 
     

confusing bumble bee (Bombus perplexus)

 
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digger bee (Anthophora terminalis)

 
Profile Photo Photo

dogwood sawfly (Macremphytus tarsatus)

 
     

downy yellowjacket (Vespula flavopilosa)

 
     

dusky birch sawfly (Croesus latitarsus)

 
Profile Photo Photo

eastern yellowjacket (Vespula maculifrons)

 
     

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)

 
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)

 
     

introduced pine sawfly (Diprion similis)

 
     

jumping oak gall wasp (Neuroterus saltatorius)

 
     

larch sawfly (Pristiphora erichsonii)

 
     

larger empty oak apple wasp (Amphibolips quercusinanis)

 
Profile Photo  

leafcutting bee (Megachile latimanus)

 
     

maple petiole borer (Caulocampus acericaulis)

 
     

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)

 
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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silky agapostemon (Agapostemon sericeus)

 
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)

 
     

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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