Male C. pallida are able detect the pheromones which females release and use them to locate female burrows. When a virgin female is about to emerge from her burrow, she releases a scent that wafts up through the soil and is detected by the antenna of the males. This has led to males developing a very acute olfactory sense. Freshly-killed females have been buried to test whether sound also plays a part in male signaling. In these tests, male bees still dug up the dead females, proving that pheromone signaling is the only pathway. Males have also been observed to dig up other males. This shows that males and virgin females give off similar pheromones. Oddly, males also sometimes dig up other digger bee species. It is currently unknown why this occurs.
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This bee is black and densely covered in a grey pubescence or fur on the dorsal side. The thorax fur has a slightly yellow color. The legs have a mixture of black and reddish fur. The ventral side of the bee is covered in a brownish or dark yellow fur. The wings are fairly transparent except for the black veins that run through them. Males and females are similar in size at about 16–17 millimeters. Males have eyes more yellow in color, and their thorax fur is lighter. Females have eyes more green in color, and their thorax fur is more brown than grey.
The two categories of behavior for C. pallida males are patrolling and hovering. These strategies are also used to find mates. In one category (the patrollers), male bees will patrol 3–6 centimeters above the ground in search of sites where buried virgin females will emerge. When a male bee finds such a site, he will dig 1–2 centimeters through the soil by gnawing at the surface with his jaws and using his forelegs to remove dirt from the excavation. If a female is found, he will attempt to mate with her either on the surface or at a nearby flower or tree. Other patrollers will sometimes attempt to steal a digging spot that another bee has found. If a bee has already found a female, another patroller bee may separate the male from the female so that it can copulate with the virgin. More often than not, the female (once found) will mate with either the male that found her or with an intruder.
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