Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
Clickable Guide
Moths Butterflies Flies Caterpillars Flies Dragonflies Flies Mantids Cockroaches Bees and Wasps Walkingsticks Earwigs Ants Termites Hoppers and Kin Hoppers and Kin Beetles True Bugs Fleas Grasshoppers and Kin Ticks Spiders Scorpions Centipedes Millipedes

Upcoming Events

Discussion, insects and people from the 2018 BugGuide Gathering in Virginia, July 27-29

Photos of insects and people from the 2015 gathering in Wisconsin, July 10-12

Photos of insects and people from the 2014 gathering in Virginia, June 4-7.

Photos of insects and people from the 2013 gathering in Arizona, July 25-28

Photos of insects and people from the 2012 gathering in Alabama

Photos of insects and people from the 2011 gathering in Iowa

Photos from the 2010 Workshop in Grinnell, Iowa

Photos from the 2009 gathering in Washington


Species Bombus variabilis - Variable Cuckoo Bumble Bee

Bombus (Psythirus) insularis? - Bombus variabilis - female Bombus variabilis Q - Bombus variabilis - female Bombus variabilis Q - Bombus variabilis - female Bombus variabilis Q - Bombus variabilis - female
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Hymenoptera (Ants, Bees, Wasps and Sawflies)
No Taxon (Aculeata - Ants, Bees and Stinging Wasps)
No Taxon (Anthophila (Apoidea) - Bees)
Family Apidae (Cuckoo, Carpenter, Digger, Bumble, and Honey Bees)
Subfamily Apinae (Honey, Bumble, Long-horned, Orchid, and Digger Bees)
Tribe Bombini (Bumble Bees)
Genus Bombus (Bumble Bees)
No Taxon (Subgenus Psithyrus)
Species variabilis (Variable Cuckoo Bumble Bee)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Populations in Mexico and the sw US may pertain to a different species or subspecies for which the name intrudens is available
Explanation of Names
Bombus variabilis (Cresson, 1872)
Female: 17.5-19 mm. Male: 14.5-17 mm
Similar to Bombus insularis but with more extensive black hairs. Males of the southwestern population, e.g, those from southern Arizona, can be difficult to separate.
e NA (TX-FL-NH-ND) / QC / Mex. to Honduras - Map - Discover Life
June to November, with earlier records in Florida
A social parasite of Bombus pensylvanicus sensu lato (eastern populations of Bombus variabilis sensu lato parasitize Bombus pensylvanicus whereas southwestern populations parasitize Bombus sonorus). Both sexes regularly visit flowers for nectar. The Hosts section of its Discover Life species page lists known floral associations based on specimen records.
Although Bombus pensylvanicus persists in relatively good numbers in its core range, its social parasite B. variabilis has evidently declined severely and there are few recent records. Texas Parks & Wildlife considers this to be a "Species of Greatest Conservation Need" (SGCN) (1)
Internet References