The Potter and Mason Wasps (Subfamily Eumeninae)

in Fascinating Insects2 years ago (edited)

Hello insect lovers,
I wanted to share one of my favorite groups of insects with you: the potter wasps.

Potter wasps are named after their habit of constructing nests on the ground in the shape of pots. Other species of the family create more elaborate structures including turrets or other enclosures. They prey mostly on caterpillars and are harmless to humans if left alone. In fact they are beneficial by controlling caterpillar populations. They are solitary unlike the social wasps and the adults feed on nectar. BugGuide source

Using the newly updated iNaturalist lifelist tool, I was able to find all my observations of potter wasps in the past (props to iNat developers). What follows is a selection of some of my best shots I have taken of these charismatic microfauna:

This is Euodynerus foraminatus feeding on some goldenrod sp. I don't believe it has a common name, like many insects.
Euodynerus foraminatus (tentative).jpg

This is the European Tube Wasp (Ancistrocerus gazella) named for its tube-like nest structures. The female stocks her nest with ~20 caterpillars for her larva to feed on.
European Tube Wasp (Ancistrocerus gazella).jpg

The Four-toothed Mason Wasp (Monobia quadridens) is larger than the rest of the wasps in this post. It is fairly abundant in my area and easily identifited by its abdominal markings and black wings. Its one of the few black and white wasps in northeastern NA. The "Mason" in its name comes from its habit of partitioning its brood cells with mud.
Four-toothed Mason Wasp (Monobia quadridens).jpg

The Fraternal Potter Wasp (Eumenes fraternus) has an interesting constricted and elongated abdomen seen below.
Fraternal Potter Wasp Eumenes fraternus.jpg

Fraternal Potter Wasp2.jpg

Lastly is Parancistrocerus perennis. I was able to catch two mating. In Florida this species has a different color morph in which it has dark red markings instead of yellow.
Parancistrocerus perennis.jpg

Parancistrocerus perennis1.jpg

Next season, I hope to find some of their actual 'pot' structures and maybe even document them caching their nests with prey. Thank you for reading.

All photos taken by @funferall and have been uploaded to the global citizen-scientist database iNaturalist.

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very nice post both photos and text