Peponapis pruinosa

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Peponapis pruinosa
Peponapis pruinosaCane-12.JPG
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Euarthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Apidae
Genus: Peponapis
P. pruinosa
Binomial name
Peponapis pruinosa
Say, 1837

Peponapis pruinosa is a species of solitary bee in the tribe Eucerini, the long-horned bees. Its common name is eastern cucurbit bee. It may be called the squash bee, but this name can also apply to other species in its genus, as well as the other squash bee genus, Xenoglossa.[1] This bee occurs in North America from the East Coast of the United States to the West Coast and into Mexico. It is an oligolege, specializing on a few host plants, the squashes and gourds of genus Cucurbita. Its range expanded as human agriculture spread throughout North America and squash plants became more abundant and widespread.[2][3] It may also have spread naturally as the range of its favored wild host plant Cucurbita foetidissima expanded.[4]

This bee is 11 to 14 millimeters long and 4 to 5.5 millimeters wide at the abdomen. It is black with whitish bands on the abdomen and it is coated in yellowish hairs.[2]

This bee relies on wild and cultivated squashes, pumpkins, gourds, and related plants. It may occasionally obtain nectar from other types of plants, but the female will only use Cucurbit pollen to provision her young.[5] Females dig a nest in the ground near its host plants. The nests are known to reach depths of 46 centimeters, but the offspring are usually placed at shallower depths.[3] The bee seems to favor irrigated soils and soils cleared by fire.[6] It may also nest in lawns.[7] The bee will sometimes plug the nest just below the surface, and it may place a tumulus at the entrance.[7] Nest building activity often occurs later in the day, as mornings are usually spent foraging.[7] The squash flower opens early in the morning and closes before noon, and the bee's activity pattern is tied to the flower's cycle.[5] The male bee spends most all of his time in and around flowers, foraging and mating in the open flowers and sleeping inside the closed flowers after noon.[2][7] The females live in and around the flowers until nesting season, when they live in and maintain one or more nests.[2] The young pupate in late June and early July.[8]

This species is an important pollinator of cultivated crops of squash, pumpkins, and related plants. A squash field with a healthy population of squash bees can be completely pollinated with no need for the introduction of honeybees.[5] This ground-nesting bee often spends its entire life in an irrigated crop field, and there it can face a number of hazards, such as tillage and pesticides.[6] The bumblebee Bombus impatiens has also been found to be a good pollinator of squash, pumpkins in particular.[9]


  1. ^ Cane, Jim. "Squash Bees". USDA ARS, Bee Biology & Systematics Lab, Logan, Utah. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d Williams, R., et al. Pumpkin Pollinator: Biology and Behavior of the Squash Bee. Archived 2012-10-29 at the Wayback Machine. Fact Sheet. Agriculture and Natural Resources. Ohio State University Extension. 2009.
  3. ^ a b Shuler, R. E., et al. (2005). Farming practices influence wild pollinator populations on squash and pumpkin. J Econ Entomol 98(3) 790-95.
  4. ^ Bischoff, I., et al. (2009). Differentiation and range expansion of North American squash bee, Peponapis pruinosa (Apidae:Apiformes) populations assessed by geometric wing morphometry. Ann Entomol Soc Am 102(1) 60-69.
  5. ^ a b c Tepedino, V. (1981). The pollination efficiency of the squash bee (Peponapis pruinosa) and the honey bee (Apis mellifera) on summer squash (Cucurbita pepo). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society. 54(2) 359-77.
  6. ^ a b Splawski, C. E. (2012). Mulch effects on squash (Cucurbita pepo L.) and pollinator (Peponapis pruinosa Say) performance. Thesis. Ohio State University.
  7. ^ a b c d Hurd, P., et al. (1974). Ecology of the squash and gourd bee, Peponapis pruinosa, on cultivated cucurbits in California (Hymenoptera:Apoidea). Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 168.
  8. ^ Mathewson, J. A. (1968). Nest construction and life history of the eastern cucurbit bee, Peponapis pruinosa (Hymenoptera: Apoidea). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 41(2) 255-61.
  9. ^ Artz, D. R. and B. A. Nault. (2011). Performance of Apis mellifera, Bombus impatiens, and Peponapis pruinosa (Hymenoptera: Apidae) as pollinators of pumpkin. Journal of Economic Entomology 104(4) 1153-61.