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Ctenocolletes smaragdinus (Family Stenotritidae)

Green Burrowing Bee



This species is confined to southern Western Australia, mainly inland and south of 31oS, although the type-specimen was recorded from Champion Bay (= Geraldton). (WA)


A moderately large bee (body length 14–19 mm) with head, body and legs entirely iridescent green; tongue very short; third segment of antenna long, thin and stalk-like.

Ecology/Way of Life:

Inhabits sand-heaths (kwongan) and visits a variety of flowers including Grevillea, Leptospermum, Melaleuca and Verticordia, doubtless serving as an effective pollinator. Adults are active from September to November. Females nest solitarily in level deep sand, burrowing to depths of up to 1.9 m, and construct single brood cells of earth near the lower ends of the burrows. Males fly rapidly over low vegetation during the day in search of females, but cluster together on vegetation overnight. As in other species of Ctenocolletes, males often cling to the backs of females while they visit flowers for nectar and pollen.

Preferred Image

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

This species has lost much of its original range as a result of clearing for wheat farms, but it seems secure in a number of large conservation areas. The bees are unable to sting and are of no commercial interest.

Other Comments:

The family Stenotritidae is the smallest of all formally-recognized bee families, with only 21 species in 2 genera, all of them restricted to Australia. They are large, densely hairy, fast-flying solitary bees, which make simple burrows in the ground and deposit firm, ovoid provision masses in cells lined with a waterproof secretion. The larvae do not spin cocoons.

This species was named by F. Smith in 1868 as a species of Stenotritus. Based on Greek: ktenos = comb and kolletes = one who glues; smaragdos = precious light green stone; and Latin: -inus = like

Further Reading:

Houston, T.F. (1983). A revision of the bee genus Ctenocolletes (Hymenoptera: Stenotritidae). Records of the Western Australian Museum 10 (3): 269-306.

Houston, T.F. (1984). Biological observations of bees in the genus Ctenocolletes (Hymenoptera: Stenotritidae). Records of the Western Australian Museum 11 (2): 153-172.

Houston, T.F. (1987). A second contribution to the biology of Ctenocolletes bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Stenotritidae). Records of the Western Australian Museum 13 (2): 189-201.




Text, Map and Ilustrations copyright Terry F. Houston

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Images and Multi-media:  
Distribution Map  
image/jpeg 17048 bytes Ctenocolletes smaragdinus distribution
Attached Image  
image/jpeg 36093 bytes Ctenocolletes smaragdinus (Female back view)
Attached Image  
image/jpeg 41523 bytes Ctenocolletes smaragdinus (Female side view)

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