Red-shanked carder (Bombus ruderarius)

Red-shanked carder

Red-shanked carder (Bombus ruderarius). Photo credit: Linda Peall.

Species distribution map from
Red: records 2000-present. Yellow: pre-2000 records.*

A small, scarce bumblebee species which appears to be declining. Confined to the south of England and Wales with the exception of a strong population on Coll and Tiree. Generally, but not always, found in association with large areas of open grassland.

Red-shanked carder bees. Photo credits: Elizabeth Hatchell.

Queens and workers are very similar to the common Red-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius), but have red tibial hairs around the pollen baskets, long faces, and a generally smaller and rounder abdomen. Males have greyish-yellow bands, much less bright than males of the Red-tailed bumblebee and similar to the larger Red-tailed cuckoo bumblebee (Bombus rupestris).

The banding pattern is similar to that of the Shrill carder bumblebee (Bombus sylvarum) but the yellow bands of the Red-shanked carder are much darker, almost blending with the black background (obviously straw-coloured in the Shrill carder), and the red tail of Red-shanked carders is a much brighter red than the washed-out orange of the Shrill carder bumblebee. The male genital capsule is useful to check the ID, particularly of worn specimens.

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* This map displays the data currently publically available on the NBN Atlas website at Data have been contributed by a range of organisations: see here for the full list.  Please note that records from the national recording body (BWARS) are not yet available on the NBN so this map may appear incomplete.

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