Augochlora / Sweat Bee
Augochlora pura on Solidago in Ithaca, NY. © Laura Russo
Augochlora pura female in Itasca State Park, Minnesota. © Joel Gardner
Common Name: Sweat Bee
Augochlora species range in color from bright green to bright green suffused with yellow or copper, to dark iridescent blue. They are very similar in appearance to the closely related genus, Augochlorella, and are often difficult to distinguish from them with the naked eye.
The female carries pollen in a brush of specialized hairs, called scopa, on each hind leg.
While, like other members of the subfamily, Halictinae, they are commonly referred to as “sweat bees”, Augochlora are not actually attracted to human perspiration. Two other main bee genera in the subfamily Halictinae (sometimes collectively referred to as “halictids”), Halictus and Lasioglossum, are known to be attracted to human perspiration, which they drink for the salt content. Due to their close familial relationship, however, the common term “sweat bee” has come to describe all the genera in this subfamily.
Females of Augochlora species, like all members of the subfamily, Halictinae, mate before hibernating for the winter, emerging in spring ready to found new nests of offspring.
True generalists, Augochlora species visit a wide variety of flowers for pollen and nectar, and, given the opportunity, are significant pollinators of many crop plants.
Size: Very small slender bees, measuring less than 1/4 to 1/3 inch in length.
Augochlora species are restricted to the Americas, with only 4 of them found in North America. Of these, only one species, Augochlora pura, has significant populations, north of Mexico. A. pura is distributed primarily throughout the eastern and Midwest United States, from the Canadian border, south to the Gulf of Mexico, and as far west as Kansas. It occurs sporadically in the extreme southwest.
Number of species in North America
Spring, summer, fall.
Females excavate their nests in rotten wood or use pre-existing tunnels; Augochlora females will mate in the fall, overwinter and emerge the following year to found a new nest for her offspring.
Pollinated Garden Crops Include
Additional Flowers Visited in Natural Areas