Megachile versicolor (Brown-footed Leafcutter Bee)
A medium-sized, brownish Megachile (female wing length averaging 8mm) without strong bands on the abdomen. Females lack erect hairs on the dorsal surface of tergite 6 (as in M. ligniseca). They could be confused with small individuals of ligniseca but have a much brighter orange pollen brush beneath the abdomen (but beware ligniseca carrying orange pollen) and tergite 6 is more pointed at its tip (bluntly rounded in ligniseca).

Females of M. centuncularis can look similar in the field but have more pronounced white hair bands on the tergites, have the pollen brush orange-haired to the tip (black-haired at the tip in mainland populations of versicolor but not Irish ones). Under a lens,centuncularis females will also be seen to have sub-erect hairs on tergite 6. Females of the extinct M. lapponicca have a more obviously banded abdomen and a very densely punctate clypeus.

Males have unmodified fore tarsi and can be difficult to separate from males of M. centuncularis. However, if the underside of the abdomen is examined, the hind margins of sternite 4 will bee seen to be fairly smooth, brightly shining and devoid of small hairs (rather matt and with tiny hairs in centuncularis), and the apical hair fringes of sternites 2 and 3 do not form the rather discrete, well-defined hair bands of centuncularis. The apical tarsal segments also tend to be reddish-brown and much paler then the basitarsi (darker in most centuncularis). Small males of M. ligniseca also resemble those of versicolor but have a deeply indented hind margin of tergite 6.

M. versicolor is a frequent species in southern Britain with records extending to south Scotland. It occurs in a range of habitats but is less likely to occur in gardens than M. centuncularis and M. ligniseca. Nesting occurs in dead wood, hollow twigs and the old stems of larger herbs like thistles.

Pollen is obtained from a variety of flowers, but perhaps especially Asteraceae such as thistles, knapweeds and Cat's-ear, and legumes such as bird's-foot trefoils.

BWARS account:
www.bwars.com/index.php?q=bee/megachilidae/megachile-vers...
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