Cuckoo bumblebees

Bombus/Psithyrus rupestris, Red-tailed cuckoo bumblebee

Psithryus rupestris femalePsithryus rupestris male

Rare and not recorded in Scotland. She takes over the nests of Bombus lapidarius. Has darker wings than Lapidarius. Body lengths, female (above left) 22 mm, male (above right) 16 mm.

Bombus/Psithyrus sylvestris, (Forest cuckoo bumblebee)

Psithryus sylvestris femalePsithryus sylvestris male

Common and takes over the nests of Bombus pratorum and jonellus. Body lengths, female (above left) 15 mm, male (above right) 14 mm. Males tend to patrol mating circuits within 1 m off the ground.

Bombus/Psithyrus bohemicus, Gypsy cuckoo bumblebee

Psithryus bohemicus femalePsithryus bohemicus male

Common and takes over the nests of Bombus lucorum. Body lengths, female (above left) 19 mm, male (above right) 16 mm.

Bombus/Psithyrus vestalis, (Southern cuckoo bumblebee)

Psithryus vestalis femalePsithryus vestalis male

More common in the south, and not recorded in Scotland*. She takes over the nests of Bombus terrestris. Body lengths, female (above left) 21 mm, male (above right) 16 mm.

*It has recently been confirmed that this bumblebee was found in southern Scotland in the summer of 2009.

Bombus/Psithyrus barbutellus, Barbut's cuckoo bumblebee

Psithryus barbutellus femaleBombus/Psithrus barbuellus male

Common and takes over the nests of Bombus hortorum. Body lengths, female (above left) 18 mm, male (above right) 15 mm.

Bombus/Psithyrus campestris (Field cuckoo bumblebee)

Psithryus campestris female

Common and takes over the nests of Bombus pascuorum. Body lengths, female (above) 18 mm, male, light and dark forms below 15 mm.

Psithryus campestris male light formPsithryus campestris male dark form

Many of the images on this page were taken from Prys-Jones and Corbet's excellent book Bumblebees. As you can see the cuckoos resemble the species whose nests they take over.

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