Sphecodes albilabris (Westrich, 1989; Söderman & Leinonen, 2003)

Description and notes

Sphecodes albilabris is a large (body length 11-15 mm) solitary parasitic bee that is endemic to Central and Western Europe. It also occurs in North Africa and is thought to have been introduced to the United States and Australia by accident.


This cleptoparasitic species has only recently been found in the UK when it was discovered in Britain in 2020 (Layham, Suffolk). In 2022 S. albilabris was recorded in Oxon, suggesting it is spreading at a fast rate.

Abroad, it is found in association with its host, which is spread widely in continental Europe.


Status (in Britain only)

It is too recently discovered to have been accorded scarcity or rarity status.


The largest British Sphecodes by some margin (body length 11-15 mm). It is also the only one with the red markings extending to the tip of the abdomen, though the final tergite of the male can be dusky. It is a robustly-built, densely-punctured (and therefore rather dull-looking) species with the lower face noticeably produced. The male antennae are not especially long and the individual flagellar segments are bulbous. The male genitalia has claspers that resemble those of S. puncticeps in shape.


Found in the same habitats as its host, sandy areas with sallows and willows growing in abundance.

Flight period

Univoltine. Females are flying from March to August, males from July to October

Pollen collected

As this bee is a cleptoparasite no pollen is collected.

Nesting biology

A cleptoparasite of Colletes cunicularius; no information is available on the parasitic behaviour in the UK. In southern Sweden, the female parasite has been seen entering and leaving the nest burrows of its host in a disused sand quarry (GWA, pers. obs.).

Flowers visited

This includes a variety of Asteraceae including Hemp Agrimony, Creeping Thistle, and goldenrods; also sea hollies.


No data available.

Author of profile

G W Allen, S Falk and A Knowles

Year profile last updated