Cuckoo bumblebees

U K cuckoo bumblebees

Female
Male

Bombus/Psithyrus rupestris, Red-tailed cuckoo bumblebee

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

Psithryus rupestris female
Psithryus rupestris male
Female
Male

Bombus/Psithyrus sylvestris, (Forest cuckoo bumblebee)

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

Psithryus sylvestris female
Psithryus sylvestris male
Female
Male

Bombus/Psithyrus bohemicus, Gypsy cuckoo bumblebee

Common and takes over the nests of Bombus lucorum. Body lengths, female 19 mm, male 16 mm.

Psithryus bohemicus female
Psithryus bohemicus male
Female
Male

Bombus/Psithyrus vestalis, (Southern cuckoo bumblebee)

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

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

Psithryus vestalis female
Psithryus vestalis male
Female
Male

Bombus/Psithyrus barbutellus, Barbut's cuckoo bumblebee

Common and takes over the nests of Bombus hortorum. Body lengths, female 18 mm, male 15 mm.

Psithryus barbutellus female
Bombus/Psithrus barbuellus male
Female
Male, light form
Male dark form

Bombus/Psithyrus campestris (Field cuckoo bumblebee)

Common and takes over the nests of Bombus pascuorum. Body lengths, female 18 mm, male 15 mm.

Psithryus campestris female
Psithryus campestris male light form
Psithryus 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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