This New Species of Australian Bee Has a Dog-Like Snout

This New Species of Australian Bee Has a Dog-Like Snout

Researchers at Curtin University have discovered a new native bee species called Leioproctus zephyr, located in Perth bushland.

The new species was named after the pet dog (Zephyr) of the study’s author, Doctor Kit Prendergast. Why her dog? Well, not only did the pet play a role in “providing emotional support during her PhD” (we totally get it), but the bee also has a dog-like snout.

“When I first examined the specimens that I collected during my PhD surveys discovering the biodiversity of native bees in urbanised regions of the southwest Western Australian biodiversity hotspot, I was instantly intrigued by the bee’s very unusual face,” Prendergrast said.

“When I went to identify it, I found it matched no described species, and I was sure that if it was a known species, it would be quite easy to identify given how unusual it was in appearance.”

A few specimens of Leioproctus zephyr had been collected and stored in the Western Australia Museum’s entomology collection in 1979, but the unique bee species had never been scientifically described.

This newly identified species of bee has a highly restricted distribution and has only been observed in seven locations across southwest Western Australia (their original location has also not been collected).

They forage on two plant species of Jacksonia and, according to Prendergast’s research, were completely absent from residential gardens, and only present in five urban bushland areas surveyed.

“Insects in general are so diverse and so important, yet we don’t have scientific descriptions or names for so many of them,” added Prendergast.

The species is most closely related to other species of Leioproctus, a group of native bees from the Colletidae family.

200 bee species belong to the Leioproctus group, and are described as furry, commonly black (though some have an orange-red, or metallic blue, green, gold or red abdomen) and range in size “from four to 16mm”, according to Aussie Bee.

You can read about the Leioproctus zephyr in the Journal of Hymenoptera Research.

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