Eight-spotted fairy bee (Perdita octomaculata) is a habitat specialist, found in seas of sand and asters. Search for this tiny, distinctive bee near deep sand like coastal dunes or inland sand quarries where you will find males and females on goldenrods and asters. This species is by far the most commonly encountered Perdita in the northeast.
Late-summer and fall, mainly August to October, though records occur as early as July. One generation per year.
Widespread throughout northeast. Found at both inland and coastal sites containing sand.
Size << honey bee
Females have yellow spot on clypeus and yellow triangles in parocular area. Noticeably flat abdomen, with eight cream-colored markings, two on each of the first four tergites. Wings folded when foraging. Females carry pollen in scopae, but in nectar-moistened pellets.
Males are similar to females but smaller, with entirely yellow clypeus. Males and females are often seen mating on flowers early in the flight season.
- Perdita swenki is similar, but highly local in our area, occurring mostly in sandy habitats around New York Harbor (NY and NJ) on Heterotheca subaxillaris (rather than on goldenrods). P. swenki flies somewhat earlier than P. octomaculata – in addition to differences in host plant preferences, females have more narrowly-broken markings on the abdomen (vs. more widely-separated spots) while males have more extensively yellow face markings (reaching above the bases of the antennae).
Solitary nests occur in sandy habitats such as coastal dunes, inland pine barrerns, sandhills, and even sand quarries. Nests are often built in deep, unvegetated areas such as bare face of a dune or an eroding slope of a sand pit. Tumuli are not conspicuous.
Asteraceae growing near sand., predominately goldenrod (Solidago spp.), but also false aster (Boltonia spp.), and wood asters (Symphyotrichum spp.).
Sphecodes autumnalis is a cleptoparasite.
Eickwort, G. C. 1977. Aspects of the Nesting Biology and Descriptions of Immature Stages of Perdita octomaculata and P. halictoides (Hymenoptera: Andrenidae). J. Kans. Entomol. Soc., 50: 577–599.
Page last updated:
February 22, 2023