Currently viewing the category: "Potter and Mason Wasps"
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Subject: Mystery wasp
Location: Troy, VA
September 5, 2016 1:01 pm
I spotted this lovely wasp (I’m assuming it’s a wasp, but maybe it’s not) on goldenrod flowers by the side of a pond. It has a slight bluish sheen that doesn’t really show in the photos. I have done some searching but can’t really figure out what this is. Any help would be appreciated.
thanks again
Signature: Grace Pedalino

Potter Wasp

Potter Wasp

Dear Grace,
We identified your Potter Wasp as
Zethus spinipes thanks to this BugGuide image.  According to BugGuide:  “Black, thorax has yellow marks. Narrow yellow band on abdominal segment 3. Wings brown to violet. Bizarre stalked abdomen typical of genus.”  We are very excited to have a posting to add to our new tag:  Goldenrod Meadow.

Potter Wasp

Potter Wasp

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Subject: Wood boring….wasp?
Location: 48108 Ann Arbor, MI
June 3, 2016 10:05 pm
Hello! These guys are making a condominium in my barn. What are they? I am in zone 6b SE Michigan.
Signature: Mary

Mason Wasp drilling nest

Mason Wasp drilling nest

Dear Mary,
We embarked on a relatively lengthy internet search in an attempt to identify your Mason Wasp in the Subfamily Eumeninae, beginning with unsuccessfully scanning through all the genera on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “Most species nest in pre-existing cavities (e.g., old borings in wood, hollow stems, crevices in rocks). They are called mason wasps because they use mud (or less commonly sand) as partitions between their brood cells. Some species construct nests in the ground.”  We then found this great site, Bug of the Week run by Michael J Raupp, Ph.D. that has a wonderful posting of Mason Wasps using pre-existing cavities.  At last we found a very similar looking individual identified as being in the genus
Symmorphus on Bug Eric, the awesome site run by Eric Eaton.  An image on BugGuide of Symmorphus canadensis looks very close to your species, but there is no indication that the females will excavate a nest if they cannot locate a pre-existing cavity.  We will contact Eric Eaton to get his opinion.  We suppose these beams may have been infested with some other boring insect and the holes were quickly appropriated by the Mason Wasps.

Mason Wasp Nests

Mason Wasp Nests

Oh thank you!
There’s a lot of them. They go into the holes, also.

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Subject: Possible wasp?
Location: Sydney, Australia
February 7, 2016 11:56 pm
Hi there, I have noticed what looks to be a wasp nesting outside my back door. It does not seem to be aggressive and I don’t mind it being there as long as it doesn’t harm myself or my dogs. However, the strange thing about it is the nest structure and what it is made out of. I Googled wasp nests, I have looked everywhere and types everything but can’t see any nests that look anything like this. Do you know what type of wasp this is? Is it even a wasp? What is the nest made out of? It’s driving me crazy not knowing. If you zoom in on photo 1, you can just see the little wasp’s head inside the hole. I have no desire to remove the nest as I am regularly outside and the wasp doesn’t come near me. But I’m so curious. If you could identify it for me, that would be great. Thanks so much.
Signature: CuriousityCat

Wasp with Nest

Wasp with Nest

Dear CuriosityCat,
Wasps that construct nests generally use mud or chewed wood that creates a paper pulp.  Your images have what appears to be resin oozing from the bricks.  There is not really enough detail for us to be able to identify the Wasp, but perhaps one of our readers who is more familiar with Australian insects will be able to provide an identity.

Wasp with Nest

Wasp with Nest

Update:  Thanks to comments from Cesar Crash and Drhoz, we are pretty confident this is a Resin Mason Wasp, Epsilon chartergiformis, which is documented on FlickR constructing a nest using resin.  It is also documented on Bowerbird where Ken Walker provided the following comment:  “This is a FASCINATING find!!! There are very few aculeate wasps (ie. wasps with stings) that use resin as a building material. There are Australian resin bees but to our knowledge, there are only two Australian wasps that use plant resins to build their brood nest. These wasps are Epsilon chartergiformis (incorrectly listed on AFD, ALA and BowerBird as Pseudepipona chartergiformis) and Epsilon excavatum (incorrectly listed on AFD, ALA and BowerBird as Ubirodynerus excavatus). In 1995, Giordani Soika transferred these wasps to the genus Epsilon. There are 17 described species in this genus and all occur in SE Asia and Australia. OBVIOUSLY, there are no distribution records on ALA for either of the two Australian species.”

Wasp Peering from Nest

Wasp Peering from Nest

Update:  February 23, 2016
Hi Daniel,
Thank you so much, to yourself and your readers for helping me identify the wasp. I feel so happy now that I know what it is. I’ve been watching every day as the nest has been growing bigger, it’s been interesting.
I’ve attached a photo I took of the nest this morning, as it looks now.
Thank you once again for taking the time to get back to me, I really appreciate it.
Kind regards,
Novella Besso

Resin Mason Wasp Nest

Resin Mason Wasp Nest

Dear Novella,
Thanks for your kind words and a progress image of your Resin Mason Wasp Nest.

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Subject: Whats this bug?
Location: 26.036731ºS, 27.698263ºE
January 12, 2016 3:13 am
I’m from South Africa and often see this wasp-like bug this time of year, mostly in the shady part of the garden.
I can, however, not seem to find out what it is and would appreciate you assistance.
Thank you
Signature: Garfield Krige

Mason Wasp

Mason Wasp

Dear Garfield,
This identification proved a bit challenging for us, but we believe we have correctly identified your wasp as
Synagris mirabilis on iSpot.  It is called a Paper Wasp on Nature’s World of Wonder, but North American Paper Wasps are in the subfamily Polistinae, and your individual is in the subfamily Eumeninae, the Potter and Mason Wasps, so we are referring to your individual by the common name Mason Wasp.

Dear DAniel,
MANY thanks for your quick response – we really appreciate it. And what an interesting insect it turned out to be! I (I am Garfield’s wife) do a monthly info letter as we live in the Cradle of Humankind – which is a UNESCO world heritage site, and I try and get people more interested and aware of conservation, plants, insects and animals on our Estate and in the area.
Insects fascinate me, so in one of my letters I have written on the Rhino bug and once on the praying mantis etc. etc. I can’t ever write too much as not everyone wants to read long letters (people are lazy!) and so I try to keep it short-ish!
When we moved out here (it is outside of town) we noticed how many interesting species of plants (some rare) and other forms of life we have and so I decided in stead of looking things up and keep some sort of record just for us, I wanted to share with the people on our Estate as well. So I first started the monthly letter and a couple of months later the website. The website (juuuust in case you feel like having a sneak peek!) is www.sterkfonteincountryestates.org.za and all the letters are under Downloads. It is a big job, I have to read up a lot (I am no scientist) and double check things and so on.
Anyway, enough of me, thanks for a great and interesting website, you really helped us out and now I can write in the Feb issue of my letter about this wasp!
Kind regards,
Elmarie Krige

Thanks for the response and link Elmarie.  I did a quick peek at your site and I checked out the Invasive Plant Species page.  I am about to head to our local Moon Canyon Park to remove invasive Castor Beans.  Invasive species are a tremendous problem in open spaces that are designed to preserve local flora and fauna.

Daniel,
Over here we have the DREADED Pop Pom weed which is a HUUUUGE problem in South Africa. It takes over valuable land and is extremely difficult to get rid of. Not much done from givernment side…things are sliding, what can one say. Anyway be sure to have a free stay with us should you ever wish to visit South Africa! We could show you lots of interesting things in just area alone.
Kind regards,

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Subject: Identify Wasps
Location: South Central MN
July 30, 2015 7:54 am
Since 2013 I’ve been caring for a large rain garden on Faribault County, MN. The pollinators have been late to return, but now I have several of them and of large size, too. I took some photos yesterday and include three below, which to my untrained eye look like wasps. They have never gone after me, even when I’ve been working in the garden, preferring instead to to move from blossom to blossom.
Image 1 is pictured on the leaf of an achemilla plant. I rarely see this wasp, so for me this was a lucky shot.
Image 2 was a surprise close-up. It looks very much like Image 3 along the abdomen but the head is different in color and markings. To my eye the antennae also differ.
Image 8196 is the most common in my garden. These vary in size from small to as big as my pinky. Right now they are in the large range, approaching thumb size. They are are hefty in weight; blossoms droop when they land on them. They seem to favor milkweed and ratibida (yellow coneflower).
There are a couple others I see now and again, such as the the Great Black and a red version of same with black tip on base of abdomen.
Then there’s one with long legs that trail in flight, though I’ve not been able to capture a photo. Again, I feel safe enough in my garden; I do my weeding thing and they do their thing on the blossoms. I wear a hat and long sleeves with gloves, which I think helps.
Can you identify them? Are they native or exotic?
Thank you.
Signature: Wanda J. Kothlow

Unknown Wasp

Potter Wasp

Goodness Wanda,
There are at least ten times more words in your request than in most of the phrases we generally receive.  We miss the chatty identification requests from days gone by before everyone was able to connect to the internet with cellular telephones and people began to forget how to write.  Your first Wasp is not something we immediately recognize, though we suspect it is a Potter or Mason Wasp.  It looks very similar to this 
Ancistrocerus adiabatus posted to BugGuide.

Paper Wasp

Paper Wasp

Your second Wasp is a Paper Wasp in the genus Polistes, and a quick glance at BugGuide has us believing it is the Northern Paper Wasp,  Polistes fuscatus.  According to BugGuide:  “Adult P. fuscatus feed mainly on plant nectar. The species is considered insectivorous because it kills caterpillars and other small insects in order to provide food for developing larvae. Foragers collect various prey insects to feed to the larvae. The wasp then malaxates, or softens the food and in doing so absorbs most of the liquid in the food. This solid portion is given to older larvae and the liquid is regurgitated to be fed to younger larvae. (Turillazzi and West-Eberhard, 1996)”

Cicada Killer

Cicada Killer

Your hefty behemoth is a magnificent Cicada Killer, and your indication that there is a significant population of them indicates a ready food supply for the larvae.  Female Cicada Killers sting and paralyze Cicadas to provision an underground nest.  There is one generation per year and where they are found, Cicada Killers make seasonal appearances.  None of your wasps are considered aggressive.  Thanks again for your entertaining submission.  Your rain garden sounds like it has a very healthy ecosystem.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Btw… Do you know the number of Bugs Anonymous?…. I think I have a problem.  I dreamt about this wasp last night. lol.  I was dreaming I was back at the spot where I photographed it, trying to get a better picture of it’s abdomen!
True! : ))
Until next time… happy bug watching!
Best regards,
J

Possibly Mason Wasp

Possibly Mason Wasp

Dear J (name withheld to maintain anonymity),
We are creating a special Featured Posting of your plea to connect Bugaholics from around the world.  Let this posting become the beginning of the forum.
  A better view of this Mason or Potter Wasp’s (location withheld to help maintain anonymity) would surely help contribute to a correct identification.

 

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