The different identities of the Moscardon

B. dahlbomii

Moscardón Bombus dahlbomii. Picture Pablo Vial.

By José Montalva

Bombus dahlbomii is the official (scientific) name of our moscardon. The entomologist Félix Édouard Guérin-Méneville coined this name in 1835, dedicating the specific epithet to the Swedish scientist Anders Gustaf Dahlbom.


Perhaps many of us know by moscardon, a term commonly used in almost all the Chilean territory, but over the years B. dahlbomii has received many names. Probably calling it “duillin” or “diwmeñ” would be the most appropriate, since these denominations have been used for thousands of years by the Mapuche¹.

On the other hand, the term bumble bee is attributed to all the bees of the genus Bombus (which the moscardon belongs), associated to this appear the names of abejorro colorado/ abejorro colorín (ginger bumble bee), given the orange color of its coat and abejorro gigante de la patagonia (giant bumble bee of the patagonia) as that the individuals of that zone reach colossal sizes. Also related to the latter term is the name of the flying mice, coined by Dave Goulson in his book Sting in the Tale.


Sting in the Tale. Dave Goulson.

Other peculiar names that have received B. dahlbomi is “Don Basilio” term used by the sailors in the zone of the channels, south of Chile.
Also on the other side of the mountains, in Argentina, where the moscardones are distributed mainly in Patagonia, B. dahlbomii are known as “mangangas” term derived from the guarani.


Scientific names

We already mentioned that the term Bombus dahlbomii is the official name of the moscardon, but there were others.
Bombus nigripes was proposed by the Irish scientist Alexander Henry Haliday in 1836.

Count Maximiliano de Spinola, who was an Italian naturalist and the first to write a catalog of Chilean bees, designated the moscardon as Bombus chilensis, Chilean bumblebee in 1851.
Of these 4 scientific names prevailed, as older, B. dahlbomii and the other 3 became synonymous.

Don Basilio

Plate xvii., fig. 2 Great humble bee of Valparaíso (Bombus grandis, Guerin, Iconogr.), p.256.

No doubt independent of the names, this wonderful species needs more than ever our attention. In 2015, the moscardon was incorporated in IUCN redlist as an endangered species, the same happened in 2016, being incorporated into the Chilean red list lista roja del MMA de Chile.

  1. Bombus dahlbomii Guérin-Méneville, 1835
  2. Bombus nigripes Haliday, 1836
  3. Bombus grandis Westwood, 1840
  4. Bombus chilensis Spinola, 1851
  5. Moscardón
  6. duillin
  7. diwmeñ
  8. abejorro colorado, abejorro colorín (ginger bumble bee)
  9. Abejorro gigante
  10. Flying mice
  11. Don Basilio
  12. Manganga

¹ Duillin.– within the Mapuche tradition was to collect the honey of the bumble bees. There are some toponyms related to the moscardon and this activity, in the region of the Araucanía there is a locality and a river called Duillinco, which literally means bumble bee water.


Delfin F. (1901). Rio Palena. Apuntes para su conservación. Rev. Hist. Nat.

Guérin-Méneville, F. E. (1835). Bombus dahlbomii pp. Pl. 75, fig. 3 in Guérin-Méneville, F. E. [1844] (ed.) Iconographie du règne animal de G. Cuvier, ou représentation d’après nature de l’une des espèces les plus remarquables, et souvent non encore figurées, de chaque genre d’animaux; pouvant servir d’atlas à tous les traités de Zoologie. Paris: Baillière 576 pp.

Haliday, A. H. (1836). Descriptions, etc. of the Hymenoptera pp. 316-331 in Curtis, J., Haliday, A. H. & Walker, F. Descriptions of Hymenoptera collected by Captain King, R. N., F. R. S., in the survey of Straits of Magellan. Trans. Linn. Soc. Lond. 17: 315–359.

Montalva J., Vieli L., Castro B., Allendes JL. y Amigo V. (2016). Reporte del estado de
conservación del abejorro chileno Bombus dahlbomii. Informe enviado al Ministerio de
Medio Ambiente (MMA). Santiago, Chile.

Montealegre, R A. 1927. Biología de insectos chilenos. IV. El moscardón (Bombus dahlbomi, UER.). Revista Chilena de Historia Natural 31: 165-172.

Morales, C., Montalva, J., Arbetman, M., Aizen, M.A., Smith-Ramírez, C., Vieli, L. & Hatfield, R. (2016). Bombus dahlbomii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T21215142A100240441. Downloaded on 26 June 2017.

Spinola, M. (1851). Himenopteros pp. 153-569 in Gay, C. (ed.) Historia Fisica y Politica de Chile. Zoologia Vol. 6. Paris: Casa del autor 572 pp.

Westwood, J. O. (1840). Humble-Bees pp. 239-259 in Duncan, J. (ed.) The Natural History of Bees, in W. Jardine (ed.) The Naturalist’s Library. Edinburgh: Lizars 301 pp.

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