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The genus Centris contains over 110 species of large apid bees occurring from Kansas to Argentina. A number of these bees possess adaptations for carrying floral oils rather than (or in addition to) pollen or nectar.
They are large (up to 3 cm), fast-flying bees, distinguished from the closely related genus Epicharis by the absence of long, whip-like setae that project backwards from just behind the eyes. They are commonly encountered bees in American deserts, and are active at very high ambient temperatures when many other species are in hiding. They can often be seen in large numbers on desert-willow (Chilopsis) and palo verde (Parkinsonia) blossoms. Bees of this genus are of some economical significance in pollinating crops such as Brazil Nut (Bertholletia excelsa) and Cashew (Anacardium occidentale, pollinated by C. tarsata among others).