Bombus variabilis

Bombus variabilis

Bombus (Psithyrus) variabilis (the variable cuckoo bumble bee)

Status in Illinois


Technical description (from Medler and Carney 1963)

Queen: Face with yellow hairs at bases of the antennae, vertex with a large triangular patch of yellow hairs. Dorsum of thorax with yellow hairs, disc bare and surrounded with a fringe of black hairs; pleura mostly with black hairs, the yellow hairs not extended much below the wing bases. Abdominal tergites each scantily clad with black hairs. Venter of abdomen and legs black.
Male: Face black, vertex with a patch of yellow hairs. Dorsum of thorax yellow, but with a rather well-defined black interalar band; pleura with an admixture of yellow and black hairs and the lower portion mostly black. Abdominal tergites showing much variation; tergites 1-4 ranging from entirely yellow to only patches of yellow at the sides of tergite 3.5. Ususally tergites 5-7 are black except for a marginal fringe of yellow on tergite 5. Venter of the abdomen with narrow fringes of yellow hairs, legs mostly black.



Flight periods

Queens: . Males: .

Main flower preferences

Queens: have been recorded on clover (Trifolium). Males: goldenrods and asters.

Host species

B. (P.) variabilis is known to parasitize B. americanorum.

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