The number of instars of larvae of the alfalfa leafcutter bee, Megachile rotundata (F.), was determined by direct observation, frequency distribution plots, and linear regression of head-capsule measurements. For all three methods, developmental polymorphism was observed; larvae were grouped according to the number of instars. The majority of larvae (77%) had four larval instars and the remainder had five. Mortality of bee larvae, apparently a result of physical injury during measurement of head-capsule width, was high but results were based on data for 259 individuals that completed development to the prepupal (= pharate pupa) stage. Direct observation of larval moults was found to be the only accurate method for determining instar designation but analysis of head-capsule width did describe the number of instars present in a population and provided estimates of head-capsule width for each instar. A morphological key for separation among four instars is presented as a practical alternative for instar determination in field studies.