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Hylaeus (Euprosopis) elegans (Family Colletidae)

Elegant Masked Bee

Distribution:

Occurs commonly throughout most of continental Australia but appears to be absent from the Kimberley Division of WA, the 'top end' of the NT and Cape York. (NSW, QLD, VIC, SA, WA, NT)

Features:

A moderately small bee (body length 6–9 mm) with a relatively slender, hairless body marked with patches of yellow (this is usual for members of the genus Hylaeus) and with the basal part of the abdomen orange. Hylaeus elegans differs from some superficially similar species in having the face in both sexes yellow centrally as well as at the sides and yellow patches on the sides of the scutum (dorsal shield between the wing bases).

Ecology/Way of Life:

Occurs in a variety of habitats from well-watered to desert regions and visits a wide variety of flowers, but seems to have a preference for Eucalyptus, Melaleuca and other members of the family Myrtaceae. Females build their nests in the vacated burrows of other insects in the soil, using a salivary secretion to fashion their brood cells. As far as is known, they are solitary.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

No commercial value. Females may sting but only if molested.

Other Comments:

Hylaeus (Euprosopis) elegans (named by F. Smith in 1853 as a species of Prosopis). Based on Latin: Hylaeus = mythological canine character; elegans = tasteful, fine.

Further Reading:

Houston, T.F. (1981). A revision of the Australian hylaeine bees (Hymenoptera: Colletidae). II. Australian Journal of Zoology Supplementary Series 80: 1-128.

Topics: Pollination

Acknowledgments:

Text, line drawings by Terry Houston. Map sourced from Houston (1981) and the Western Australian Museum. Image copyright Brianna Peake (Department of Agriculture, WA).
Note: Tasmania has been left off the Australian map.

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