|Vestal cuckoo bumblebee|
Bombus vestalis' usual host is Bombus terrestris (the buff-tailed bumblebee).
The queen is a large bumblebee with a length up to 21 millimetres (0.83 in) and a wingspan of 37 millimetres (1.5 in); the male is considerably smaller (16 millimetres (0.63 in)). The bumblebee is predomninantly black, with an orange collar. The third tergite (abdominal segment) has a border of yellow hairs, and the hairs on the fifth tergite are mostly white. The males are similar to the females, but smaller and with longer antennae.
It is similar in appearance to another cuckoo bumblebee: Bombus bohemicus but is distinguishable by either looking at the length of the antennal segments or dissection and comparison of the genitalia. In B. vestalis the fifth antennal segment will be the same length as the third and fourth together.
The bumblebee is common from North Africa in the south to southern Sweden in the north, and from Britain in the west to northern Iran in the east. It is common throughout England and Wales but has only recently (2009) been sighted in Scotland. Using data from the National Biodiversity Network gateway it is apparent that B. vestalis is most prominent in South-East England.
Bombus vestalis is a cuckoo bumblebee; it does not construct any nest of its own, but usurpates the nest of Bombus terrestris, kills the host queen and lets the host workers raise its offspring. The male bumblebees often congregate in gardens in the suburbs.
The queen emerges early in the spring; the males later, late May to early June. Favourite food sources are flowering plants such as clover (males especially often visit white clover), tufted vetch, knapweed and others. In the spring, the emerging queens frequently fly to flowers such as, for example, deadnettles, sallows, blackthorns, and dandelions.
- ITIS Report
- Pierre Rasmont. "Bombus (Psithyrus) vestalis (Fourcroy, 1785)". Université de Mons. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
- Benton, Ted (2006). "Chapter 9: The British Species". Bumblebees. London, UK: HarperCollins Publishers. pp. 403–406. ISBN 0007174519.
- "Cuckoo bumblebees". Bumblebee.org. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
- Vestal Cuckoo Bumblebee - Bombus vestalis NatureSpot
- Grid map of records for Bombus (Psithyrus) vestalis National Biodiversity Network
- "Bombus". Natural History Museum, London, UK. 2013. Retrieved 5 January 2013.