When I was doing a shootout for the review of Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM I found this potter wasp at my garden building its nest. Unfortunately when i noticed she had built most of the nest and has gathered caterpillar to be served as food for her new born larvae. I was only able to take photos of her closing the beautiful nest. All these photos were taken using Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM on Canon EOS 7D using Canon Speedlite 580EX II with Rayflash adapter.
Potter wasps, also known as mason wasps, are very interesting insects that are named for the way and the form in which they build their hives. They are truly pottery artists and create unique and beautiful pot-like homes for their off-springs. There are many things about the potter wasp that makes them stand out from the rest and here are some interesting facts that you may not know about these unusual insects.
It is the female potter wasps that do all the construction on their homes, rather than the males.Possibly the simplest of the potter wasp constructions is made with mud and has tiny cells between the layers. The female will either gather droplets of water soon after rain fall mixed with her own saliva to make the mud. It is truly an amazing process!
Another of the homes that the potter wasp creates is made with mud like the first, but the shape is different. Rather than being a plain round shape, these are round with a thin neck at the top, much like a cork bottle or special vase.
The common potter wasp is primarily black in color, but it also has yellow or red markings on the thorax or abdomen. There are also some interesting tropical species that can have green or blue markings.
Female potter wasps take less than one day to completely build a nest. There are some female potter wasps that will make their nests out of pre-existing holes, but this is not as common as the lady who will start from scratch.
Potter wasps hunt for Beetle larva or caterpillars and paralyze them with their sting. They fly these paralyzed caterpillars to the hive they created. They lay their eggs on these larvae inside nests, one egg in each cell. and then seals off the cells to protect the babies. The sealed caterpillar lives till the eggs hatch and becomes food for the newly hatched wasp baby.
The potter wasp’s nest is rumored to have been the original inspiration for the Indian pottery that it so strongly resembles.
The diet of potter wasps consists primarily of nectar, spiders, beetle larvae, and young caterpillars.
Some potter wasps build their nests underground, but most have them hanging from a branch or limb above the ground. This is where you can look for one of your own to keep as a decorative piece. Be sure, of course, that it is an empty one or you may have one very angry wasp to deal with!