Leaf cutter bee “damage”

In the past week, I have begun to see notching on redbud leaves.  These semi-circle

Leaf notches cut by leaf cutter bees on a redbud tree. Photo: S.D. Frank

notches are characteristic of what weevils might do.  However, they are actually caused by leaf cutter bees in the family Megachilidae.  I have not seen the bees cutting leaves (although I would love too) but the bees are black and yellow and similar in size to honey bees.  They are important native pollinators that use the leaf pieces to line nests that create in holes and stems.  Bees can clearly affect the aesthetic appeal of trees if cutting is severe.  However they are not a lethal threat and insecticides will prevent cutting since the bees do not eat the leaves.  I was glad to see leaf cutting because the vegetables in my garden have not been pollinated as well as necessary.  My zucchini get stay small then shrivel and rot an indication they were not pollinated. Leaf cutter and other solitary bee nesting can be encouraged with nest boxes.


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