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April 2024

from Alachua Co.

The photos below are of three Andrena -- two females and a male -- that appeared in April 2024 on farkleberry (Vaccinium arboretum) growing along a dirt road bordering a wooded area north of Gainesville. This species is a documented pollinator of Vaccinium.  

All three are Andrena obscuripennis.  The  most remarkable things about these bees are their size, black wings and intensely orange color.  Their legs are orange-red, and bright orange hairs cover much of the head, thorax and legs.  Another unusual trait is the punctuation on the females' abdomens:  the terga are covered with fine pitting that  assumes a nearly symmetrical pattern on T1.   Mitchell described the females' terga of Andrena obscuripennis as "finely, closely, and quite densely punctate".

I have seen females identical to those shown below on farkleberry in three differet locations of Alachua County during April 2014.  The University of Florida bee key notes that Andrena obscuripennis has been found previously in Alachua County:  I don't know how recently this occurred:  the Bee Library notes specimens at the University of Florida from Alachua Co.  dated 1995-1997;  the only other Florida U. Andrena obscuripennis specimen (identified by Mitchell)  dates to 1949.  (See   Bouseman & LaBerge (1978)  wrote that  Andrena obscuripennis was known only from Georgia and North Carolina, but noted that Mitchell (1960) provisionally included New Jersey and Louisiana in its range.  The species has since been documented in places as widely dispersed as  Mississippi, Missouri and Ontario.

Size:  female 15 mm-16 mm

male 12 mm

Andrena obscuripennis?


Food plants:


(Vaccinium aboreaum)

When and where seen:

April 10, 2024 (female 15 mm)

April 11, 2024 (female 16 mm)

(Alachua County)

FEMALE  - 15 mm

FEMALE - 16 mm


Female Andrena obscuripennis #1


Female Andrena obscuripennis #2

FEMALE - 15 mm:  The first female shown here is a large (15 mm)  Andrena with a black head and body, reddish-orange legs and black wings.  (The lower legs are orange-red, and the coaxae and trochanters dark brownish-red).  Bright yellow-orange hairs cover most of the legs.  The hind-leg scopal hairs, and the hairs on the hind basitarsi, are pale yellowish.  The bases of the female bee’s mandibles, and the lower third of the clypeus are red (traits noted by Bouseman & Laberge 1978).  The labrum is also red.  S6, and the central area of S5, are reddish-brown.  The rest of the abdomen is black. The hairs of the facial fovaea are mostly bright orange, but are pale in the upper third. 

FEMALE - 16 mm:  The second female shown here is also quite large  -- a little over 16 mm.  It differs from the first female in the coloring of the hairs on the scutum and scutellum -- they are mostly reddish, rather than yellow-orange.  This second female  is otherwise similar to the first female. 

This female was found on the same farkleberry bush as the first female, but a day later.   The photographs of the bee's abdomen show the fine punctuation on its terga. 

Size:  female 15 mm,

male 12  mm

Andrena obscuripennis


Food plants:


(Vaccinium aboreaum)

When and where seen:

April 10, 2024

Alachua, Florida

(Alachua County)


Male Andrena obscucipennis


Male Andrena obscuripennis

MALE #2:  This is a 12 mm Andrena with a black head and body, yellowish-orange legs and black wings.   It was found beside female #1 on the same farkleberry bush.

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