British Insects: Bombus and Psithyrus (Bumblebees and Cuckoobees)


L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz

Character List

#1. <Synonyms and subspecies>/

#2. <Common name(s)>/


#3. Subgenus <of Bombus>/

1. Bombus s. str./

2. Kallobombus/

3. Melanobombus/

4. Cullumanobombus/

5. Pyrobombus/

6. Rhodobombus/

7. Subterraneobombus/

8. Megabombus/

9. Thoracobombus <excluding Rhodobombus>/


#4. <Insects, whether social or solitary>/

1. social insects forming organized communities/

2. solitary insects, parasitic on social bumblebees/

‘Social’: implies social organisation. Insects which merely form colonies of nests in close proximity are treated as ‘solitary’.

#5. The adult populations <whether including sterile females, or ‘workers’>/

1. including specialised, sterile females constituting ‘workers’/

2. comprising males and fertile females only/

#6. The larvae <life style>/

1. feeding on pollen and nectar gathered and prepared by the adult females/

2. parasitic in the nests of host Bombus species/

#7. Hosted by <Bombus species hosting Cuckoos>/

1. B. cullumanus/

2. B. distinguendus/

3. B. hortorum/

4. B. humilis/

5. B. hypnorum/

6. B. jonellus/

7. B. lapidarius/

8. B. lucorum/

9. B. monticola/

10. B. muscorum/

11. B. pascuorum/

12. B. pomorum/

13. B. pratorum/

14. B. ruderarius/

15. B. ruderatus/

16. B. soroeensis/

17. B. subterraneus/

18. B. sylvarum/

19. B. terrestris/

#8. <Natural> nesting <locations>/

1. underground/

2. on the surface of the ground, or only just below/

Adult morphology.

#9. <Whether queens, workers and males differ markedly in appearance>/

1. adult queens, workers and males all similar appearance/

2. queens unlike workers and males in appearance/

3. females and workers similar in appearance, the males somewhat different/

#10. Adults about <length: front of head to extremity of abdomen>/

mm long/

Most of the length data recorded here are quoted from general accounts of the families, and accurate measurements reflecting their British species contents have not yet been entered. However, while the recorded ranges are unreliable in detail for identificatory purposes, the ranges given are likely to exceed the true level of variation. When pursuing identifications, therefore, failure to separate families via this character should be a more likely outcome than erroneous assignment.

#11. The hair coats of abdomen and thorax <hair-patterning>/

1. conspicuously colour-patterned <with contrasting bands and/or abdominal tail: implicit>/

2. more or less homogeneously coloured or merely shaded darker to lighter <unbanded, the abdomen not conspicuously tailed>/

#12. The hair coats of abdomen and thorax predominently <when more or unpatterned, colour>/

1. sandy- to gingery-brown <ginger bumblebees>/

2. more or less all-black <melanic>/

#13. The hair coats of abdomen and thorax <whether all black except for tail>/

1. all black except for a contrasting abdominal tail/

2. not all black anterior to a contrasting abdominal tail <implicit>/

#14. Eyes <shape>/

1. emarginate/

2. ovate and not emarginate/

#15. The ocello-ocular area <i.e., the region between the compound eye and the lateral ocellus> of females <puncturing>/

1. mostly shining and unpunctured, except for sparse puncturing along the inner margin of the compound eye/

2. shining and unpunctured over only about half the distance between the lateral ocellus and the compound eye, conspicuously punctured with intermixed small and large punctures towards the inner margin of the compound eye/

#16. Face <length, relative to width across the eyes>/

1. relatively short <wider across the eyes than long>/

2. relatively long <shorter across the eyes than long>/

#17. Face <of adults, shape>/

1. at least as wide <across the eyes> as long, or wider/

2. somewhat longer than wide/

3. much longer than wide/

#18. The facial hairs of males <colour>/

1. yellow/

2. greenish yellow/

3. gingery brown <tawny>/

4. yellow and black/

5. black/

6. greyish intermixed with black/

#19. The vertex <of males, hair colour>/

1. yellow haired/

2. black haired/

3. with some yellow hairs among the black ones/

4. gingery-brown haired <tawny>/

5. with greyish hairs intermixed with black ones/

#20. The facial hairs of females <colour>/

1. yellow/

2. greenish yellow/

3. gingery brown <tawny>/

4. yellow and black/

5. black/

6. greyish intermixed with black/

#21. The vertex <of females, hair colour>/

1. yellow haired/

2. black haired/

3. with some yellow hairs among the black ones/

4. gingery-brown haired/

5. with greyish hairs intermixed with black ones/

#22. The clypeus of females <puncturing>/

1. with scattered large to medium punctures over most of its surface, including much of the central area/

2. predominantly smooth and shining, the central area with only sparse micro-punctures/

#23. The tongue <of females, relative length>/

1. relatively long, reaching the apex of the abdomen when fully extended/

2. not reaching the apex of the abdomen when fully extended/

#24. The mandibles of males <bearding>/

1. with a reddish beard/

2. with a blackish beard/

3. not bearded/

#25. The mandibles of the females <shape>/

1. obliquely-ended/

2. round-ended, not oblique/

#26. The mandibles of females <presence of posterior tooth>/

1. with a fairly conspicuous posterior tooth <which may become worn down>/

2. with no posterior tooth/

#27. Antennal segments <number>/

#28. Antennae of the male <relative lengths of 3rd anf 5th segments>/

1. with the third segment shorter than the fifth/

2. with the third segment at least as long as the fifth/

#29. Antennae of the male <relative lengths of 3rd and 4th segments>/

1. with the third segment considerably longer than the fourth/

2. with the third segment equalling or only slightly longer than the fourth/

3. with the third segment shorter than the fourth/

#30. The mid antennal segments of the male <shape>/

1. each noticeably swollen only apically underneath/

2. each somewhat swollen around the middle underneath/

#31. Thorax <whether ginger-haired>/

1. predominantly ginger-haired/

2. not predominantly <i.e., no more than partly> ginger-haired <implicit>/

#32. Thorax <when predominantly ginger haired, presence of black hairs>/

1. exhibiting a few black hairs just above the bases of the wings/

2. without any black hairs just above the wing bases/

#33. Thorax <banding>/

1. banded <light and dark, at least partly black>/

2. not banded <without black areas>/

#34. Thorax <when banded, manner of banding>/

1. black posteriorly, with a pale anterior band only/

2. black across the middle, with pale anterior and posterior bands/

#35. The anterior yellow thoracic band <width relative to the posterior one: B. hortorum/B. ruderatus>/

1. wider than the posterior one/

2. narrower than the posterior one/

#36. The light thoracic hairs <colour>/

1. pale greyish whitish/

2. dirty yellowish/

3. yellowish grey/

4. greenish grey/

5. gingerish yellow/

6. orange-yellow/

7. mid-yellow/

8. mustard yellow/

9. lemon-yellow/

#37. Closed fore-wing cells <number>/

#38. Mid and hind tibiae <number of spurs>/

1. with one spur only/

2. with two spurs/

#39. The outer surface of the hind tibiae of females <presence of a ‘pollen basket’, the ‘corbicula’>/

1. with a conspicuous ‘pollen basket’, in the form of an elongate, shiny, hairless, <flat or hollowed> area framed by stout hairs/

2. with no ‘pollen basket’, strongly and uniformly convex, dull and uniformly covered with stout hairs/

#40. The pollen basket <of females, colour of enclosing hairs>/

1. framed by black hairs/

2. framed by red or orange-red hairs/

#41. The hind tibiae of the males <fringe detail>/

1. having a fringe of short hairs along the outer margin <Psithyrus>/

2. having a fringe of long hairs along the outer margin <most Bombus>/

#42. The hind tibiae of the males <hair details>/

1. with the long hairs on the hind edge falling short of the proximal end/

2. long haired along the hind edge to the proximal end/

#43. Mid basitarsus <metatarsus> of females <distal form>/

1. with the distal-posterior margin extended to form a sharp angle of less than 45 degrees, or produced into a narrow tooth or spine/

2. with the distal-posterior margin broadly rounded to narrow, but if pointed forming an angle of more than 45 degrees, not projected into a tooth or spine/

#44. The hind basitarsus <metatarsus, width relative to tibiae>/

1. as wide as the tibia/

2. narrower than the tibia/

#45. Hind basitarsus <metatarsus> of the male <shape and fringing>/

1. with a narrow base and fringed with long hairs on its hind edge/

2. with a relatively broad base and fringed with short hairs on its hind edge/

#46. Outer surface of the female hind basitarsus <metatarsus, hairs>/

1. densely hairy, the hairs yellowish-white/

2. shining black, with few hairs/

#47. Scutellum of females <hair colour>/

1. exclusively black-haired/

2. at least partly pale-haired/

#48. Scutellum of males <hair colour>/

1. black- or predominantly black-haired/

2. pale- or predominantly pale-haired/

#49. The abdomen <general appearance>/

#50. Dorsally visible abdominal segments <tergites, number>/

#51. Abdomen <whether concolorous>/

1. conspicuously patterned <banded and/or with a contrasting tail>/

2. not conspicuously patterned <more or less concolorous, not conspicuously banded or tailed>/

#52. <The unpatterned> abdomen <whether ginger-haired and unpatterned>/

1. predominently ginger haired/

2. not ginger haired <implicit>/

#53. Abdomen <colour: presence of a contrasting tail>/

1. with a contrasting tail/

2. without a contrasting tail/

#54. Abdomen <tail colour>/

1. conspicuously red- or red-orange tailed/

2. not conspicuously red or red-orange tailed <implicit>/

#55. The <contrasting abdominal> tail <colour>/

1. white/

2. greyish white/

3. yellowish white/

4. buff/

5. pinkish/

6. orange/

7. orange-red/

8. brownish/

9. ginger/

#56. The <ginger> tail <presence of some black hairs>/

1. with some black hairs/

2. without black hairs/

#57. The white tail <only at the extreme tip, colour>/

1. black at the extreme tip/

2. with some orange hairs at the extreme tip/

3. without black or orange hairs at the extreme tip <implicit>/

#58. The white <abdominal> tail <lateral colouring>/

1. with yellow side patches anteriorly/

2. without yellow side patches <implicit>/

#59. Abdomen <banding>/

1. conspicuously banded between the anterior of the tail and the thorax/

2. without conspicuous banding <as distinct from lines representing paler hair-tips> between the anterior of the tail and the thorax/

#60. Abdomen <anterior to the tail, details of banding>/

1. with a pale band adjacent to the thorax/

2. with a pale band across the middle/

3. with one or two faint pale bands between the interrupted anterior black one and the tail/

#61. Tergite 2 of females <colour>/

1. pale greenish grey with traces of black laterally/

2. reddish orange/

#62. The black abdominal band immediately anterior to the tail of females <width>/

1. narrow, representing only the third segment/

2. relatively broad, representing 2 or more segments/

#63. Abdomen <presence of a yellowish line of hairs between the black ones and the white tail>/

1. exhibiting a thin line of yellowish hairs (sometimes interrupted) between the black ones and the white tail/

2. without a line of yellowish hairs between the black ones and the white tail/

#64. The abdomen of females <presence of black hairs on tergites: B. humilis/B. muscorum>/

1. exhibiting some black hairs laterally, at least on the sides of tergites 2–4/

2. with no black hairs, or these confned to tergite 6/

#65. Abdomen <with or without intermixed black hairs>/

1. with black hairs intermixed among the ginger ones/

2. without black hairs among the ginger ones/

#66. Abdominal pubescence <even or uneven>/

1. relatively short and regular <velvety>/

2. relatively long, uneven and somewhat ragged/

#67. Sternite 2 <ventral plate> of females <whether transversely ridged>/

1. with a weak rounded transverse ridge between the anterior and posterior margins/

2. flat between the anterior and posterior margins <with no transverse ridge>/

#68. Sternite 6 <ventral plate> of females <Psithyrus, presence of a pointed process>/

1. armed at its extreme apex with a reflexed, angular spine or tooth/

2. without a reflexed spiny process at the tip/

#69. Sternite 6 <ventral plate> of females <keel>/

1. with a median keel/

2. without a median keel/

#70. Sternite 6 <ventral plate> of females <keels>/

1. with ventro-lateral keels/

2. without ventro-lateral keels <implicit>/

#71. Sternite 6 <ventral plate> of females <callosities>/

1. with large, conspicuous, bulging callosities associated with the ventro-lateral keels/

2. with only small anterior callosities, one on each ventro-lateral keel/

#72. The callosities <on sternite 6 of females, form>/

1. coalescing posteriorly, forming a prominent ridge visible in dorsal views/

2. separate, not coalescing and not visible from above/

#73. Sternite 6 <the last ventral plate> of males <whether hair-tufted>/

1. with a black ventro-lateral hair-tuft on each side/

2. without black hair-tufts/

#74. Sternite 6 <the last ventral plate> of males <shape>/

1. posteriorly retuse, with a small bulge on each side near the tip/

2. posteriorly rounded, without bulges near the tip/

Male genitalia.

#75. The sagittae <of the male genital capsule, shape>/

1. rather straight/

2. curved inwards around the spatha/

#76. The sagittae <of the male genital capsule, whether laterally ornamented>/

1. externally dentate laterally above the middle/

2. externally finely serrate beneath the apex/

3. with a small hook externally around the middle or somewhat above/

4. rather sharply angled inwards from the middle, otherwise smooth/

5. smooth to the base, neither serrate nor dentate nor hooked externally/

#77. The apices <of the sagittae of the male genital capsule, detailed shape>/

1. apically turned outwards, obliquely truncate and minutely hooked externally at the tip/

2. apically turned slightly outwards and obliquely truncate, not hooked/

3. minutely capitate and minutely sharply hooked at right angles from the capitulum internally/

4. apically minutely punctate, not hooked/

5. apically turned inwards and conspicuously sickle-shaped/

6. apically truncate, turned outwards and produced laterally into a transverse subquadrate process/

7. apically turned outwards, minutely hooked and apiculate/

8. slightly divergent, and laterally bidentate/

9. narrow and straight, rounded and scarcely oblique/

#78. The ends of the <male genital> claspers <comprising the volsella/squama complex (laciniae), whether expanded>/

1. much expanded/

2. somwhat expanded/

3. not expanded/

#79. The ends of the <male genital> claspers <comprising the volsella/squama complex (laciniae), consistency>/

1. dark and horny/

2. pale and soft <translucent>/

#80. The ends of the <male genital> claspers <comprising the volsella/squama complex, whether emarginate and toothed>/

1. conspicuously emarginate and toothed/

2. not or only slightly emarginate, without teeth/

#81. The ends of the <male genital> claspers <visibility of the volsella>/

1. with the volsella readily visible at their ends/

2. with the volsella <detectable but> inconspicuous/

3. with the volsella hidden by the squama/

British representation, flight times.

#82. <Number of British species>/

species in the British Isles/

#83. Recorded from <occurence in the British Isles>/

1. England/

2. Wales/

3. Mainland Scotland/

4. Hebrides/

5. Orkney/

6. Shetland/

7. Ireland/

8. Channel Isles/

#84. Britain: <records for the vice-counties of Britain: see ‘Notes’>/

1. West Cornwall/

2. East Cornwall/

3. South Devon/

4. North Devon/

5. South Somerset/

6. North Somerset/

7. North Wiltshire/

8. South Wiltshire/

9. Dorset/

10. Isle of Wight/

11. South Hampshire/

12. North Hampshire/

13. West Sussex/

14. East Sussex/

15. East Kent/

16. West Kent/

17. Surrey/

18. South Essex/

19. North Essex/

20. Hertfordshire/

21. Middlesex/

22. Berkshire/

23. Oxfordshire/

24. Buckinghamshire/

25. East Suffolk/

26. West Suffolk/

27. East Norfolk/

28. West Norfolk/

29. Cambridgeshire/

30. Bedfordshire/

31. Huntingdonshire/

32. Northamptonshire/

33. East Gloucestershire/

34. West Gloucestershire/

35. Monmouthshire/

36. Herefordshire/

37. Worcestershire/

38. Warwickshire/

39. Staffordshire/

40. Shropshire/

41. Glamorgan/

42. Breconshire/

43. Radnorshire/

44. Carmarthenshire <Caerfyrddyn>/

45. Pembrokeshire/

46. Cardiganshire <Ceredigion>/

47. Montgomeryshire/

48. Merionethshire <Meirionydd>/

49. Caernarvonshire <Caernarfon>/

50. Denbighshire/

51. Flintshire/

52. Anglesey/

53. South Lincolnshire/

54. North Lincolnshire/

55. Leicestershire <with Rutland>/

56. Nottinghamshire/

57. Derbyshire/

58. Cheshire/

59. South Lancashire/

60. West Lancashire/

61. South-east Yorkshire/

62. North-east Yorkshire/

63. South-west Yorkshire/

64. Mid-west Yorkshire/

65. North-west Yorkshire/

66. Durham/

67. South Northumberland/

68. North Northumberland <Cheviot>/

69. Westmorland <with North Lancashire>/

70. Cumberland/

71. Isle of Man/

72. Dumfriesshire/

73. Kirkcudbrightshire/

74. Wigtownshire/

75. Ayrshire/

76. Renfrewshire/

77. Lanarkshire/

78. Peeblesshire/

79. Selkirkshire/

80. Roxburghshire/

81. Berwickshire/

82. East Lothian <Haddington>/

83. Midlothian <Edinburgh>/

84. West Lothian <Linlithgow>/

85. Fifeshire <with Kinross>/

86. Stirlingshire/

87. West Perthshire <with Clackmannan>/

88. Mid Perthshire/

89. East Perthshire/

90. Angus <Forfar>/

91. Kincardineshire/

92. South Aberdeenshire/

93. North Aberdeenshire/

94. Banffshire/

95. Moray <Elgin>/

96. East Inverness-shire <with Nairn>/

97. West Inverness-shire/

98. Argyll Main/

99. Dunbartonshire/

100. Clyde Isles/

101. Kintyre/

102. South Ebudes/

103. Mid Ebudes/

104. North Ebudes/

105. West Ross/

106. East Ross/

107. East Sutherland/

108. West Sutherland/

109. Caithness/

110. Outer Hebrides/

111. Orkney islands/

112. Shetland <Zetland>/

113. Channel Islands/

#85. Ireland: <records for the vice-counties of Ireland. See ‘Notes’>/

1. South Kerry/

2. North Kerry/

3. West Cork/

4. Mid Cork/

5. East Cork/

6. Waterford/

7. South Tipperary/

8. Limerick/

9. Clare/

10. North Tipperary/

11. Kilkenny/

12. Wexford/

13. Carlow/

14. Leix <Queen's County>/

15. South-east Galway/

16. West Galway/

17. North-east Galway/

18. Offaly <King's County>/

19. Kildare/

20. Wicklow/

21. Dublin/

22. Meath/

23. West Meath/

24. Longford/

25. Roscommon/

26. East Mayo/

27. West Mayo/

28. Sligo/

29. Leitrim/

30. Cavan/

31. Louth/

32. Monaghan/

33. Fermanagh/

34. East Donegal/

35. West Donegal/

36. Tyrone/

37. Armagh/

38. Down/

39. Antrim/

40. Londonderry/

#86. <Summary of distribution in the British Isles:>/

#87. The adults abroad during <months: with emergence up to a month later northwards>/

1. February/

2. March/

3. April/

4. May/

5. June/

6. July/

7. August/

8. September/

9. October/

10. November/

#88. <Habitat>/

General comments.

#89. <General comments:>/


#92. <Illustrations:>/

To view illustrations with legends giving names in current use, go to the interactive key. This also offers full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting or lacking specified attributes, and distributions of character states within any set of taxa, as well as source references and other relevant material.

Cite this publication as: ‘Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2003 onwards. British insects: Bumblebees and Cuckoobees. Version: 1st January 2012.’.