Dunning’s mining bee (Andrena dunningi) is fond of lazy gardeners: this spring-active species thrives in sunny, unkempt suburban lawns and gardens full of dandelions. It can be distinguished from most other spring-active Andrena by the combination of orange thorax and entirely black abdomen.
Late-March/early-April through May, with latest records in the northern part of its range extending into June. One generation is produced per year.
Widespread throughout region. Most common in suburban landscapes.
Size ≈ honey bee
Females: fuzzy orange face, long orange hairs on thorax, dulled (not very glossy or reflective) black abdomen, scopal hairs range from all black to light orange
Males: yellowish-orange thorax and facial hairs, polished black abdomen
- Both females and males of Andrena pruni are very similar: females of A. pruni have conspicuous orange-yellow hairs on the tip of T6 while males have a tuft of hair under the tip of the abdomen (best seen in the hand)
- Andrena clarkella has a hairy ragged look; hind-leg scopal hairs are obviously orange; much scarcer in southern parts of the northeast
- Andrena milwaukeensis has thick, messy orange hairs on T1 and T2, and all black hind tibiae
- Colletes thoracicus superficially resembles A. dunningi, but note convergent eye margins, much shorter orange thorax hairs, glossy black abdomen, and preference for sandy soils
Nest in a variety of soil types and covers, including lawns, gardens, cemeteries, and forest edges. Often aggregated. Nests have small to moderate tumuli and entrances are not sealed during foraging trips.
Generalized on spring-blooming plants including Rosaceae (e.g. Crataegus, Malus, and Prunus), willows (Salix spp.), maples (Acer spp.) and ash (Fraxinus spp.). Keep an eye out for them on non-native plants like dandelions (Taraxacum officinale), ornamental andromeda (Pieris), and Norway maple (Acer platanoides).
Likely Nomada imbricata. Anthomyiid root-maggot flies are often seen “shadowing” females back to the nest.
Text last updated:
February 22, 2023