25 July – Identification progress and weird Lasioglossum nesting aggregation

Hi Everyone,

Once again, the main progress to report is that we have made more headway on the Lasioglossum identification! We still have about 10,000 Lasioglossum specimens that need identified to species, but we have made great progress!

I also made it through my bowl traps that I set in 2020. Interestingly, most people typically have Lasioglossum versatum or hitchensi as the most abundant Lasioglossum in their samples. However, it turns out my sample site was predominantly Lasioglossum apocyni! This is an otherwise uncommon species with limited range, so cool to see that I had so many. Below is a table of the species that were found at my site.

Lasioglossum TBD 12
Lasioglossum apocyni 273
Lasioglossum bruneri 4
Lasioglossum cattellae 1
Lasioglossum coriaceum 5
Lasioglossum cressonii 3
Lasioglossum hitchensi 2
Lasioglossum illinoense 1
Lasioglossum oceanicum 9
Lasioglossum sp 51
Lasioglossum tegulare 3
Lasioglossum versatum 67

The apocyni were the most abundant, which meant there was likely a nesting aggregation right at my sampling transect. So 2 years later, I returned to try to get some photographs of the nests. I wasn’t sure if they would still be there, but lo and behold, they were there and in abundance!

These bare patches of dirt may not look like much, but they are home to a large hoard of Lasioglossum!

It took careful inspection and a little waiting for the bees to start coming out.

The video above shows just how active it was in that tiny patch of dirt! This dirt patch is barely larger than my shoe!

My fingernail for scale showing a nest entrance.

She was cautiously waiting for me to move so she could leave

This species is relatively easy to identify (under a microscope) as they have a gena (cheek) wider than the compound eyes, t1 with an open fan and obvious microsculpture, flat, protruding clypeus, and normal scutum (dense punctures laterally and sparser in the center), and normal propodeum.

Note the very wide gena

I still did not get as good of photos as I would have wanted, but I was able to net several and verify from the specimens that they were all apocyni.

It also appears to be getting close to their peak season. From our 2020 samples, we collected the most of this species in August.

This chart includes all specimens from Ohio that have been identified so far, not just the ones collected at my site

To learn more about this species and their range, see the discoverlife page here:  https://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?search=Lasioglossum+apocyni&guide=Lasioglossum

All for now,



3 thoughts on “25 July – Identification progress and weird Lasioglossum nesting aggregation

  1. So this is why I maintain a patch of Apocynum cannabinum! No matter, I am sure that I would not be able to ID to species. But–I have always observed that my patch of Indian Hemp is popular with many bees. It has been in flower for more than a week at this point. The little dark bees are my downfall for identifications, but this might be the other genera nesting in my “Andrena Hillside”. I have fallen way behind on my bee ID skills. I wish every bee was as big as a Bombus.

    • With practice and reference specimens, I believe you could!

      Yea, based on the name, I thought they would be associated with dogbane. I’ve been trying to sample from dogbane to see if I can reliably find them, but so far no dice. At my bowl sample site, I have collected them foraging on chicory and white clover, but those were the main flowers blooming.

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