Location: Hawthorne, California
December 10, 2010 12:25 am
A new wasp in the back yard yesterday. It’s small, the flower it was feeding on is cilantro. Can you help?
Signature: Thanks, Anna

Potter Wasp

Dear Anna,
The genus
Ancistrocerus is part of the Potter Wasp subfamily Eumeninae, and we are in total agreement with you up until that point.  Your specimen does look very much like Ancistrocerus tuberculocephalus which is represented on BugGuide with submissions from Los Angeles, but it also resembles the images of a member of the genus Dolichodynerus  from San Diego that are posted on BugGuide.  Alas, we haven’t the necessary skill to confirm the genus or species for certain, but we are quite confident that you have a Potter Wasp in the subfamily Eumeninae.  You can read more about the fascinating Potter Wasps on BugGuide.  Thanks so much for sending us the images.  We are pleased to see that your garden is attracting other beneficial pollinating insects and we hope you continue to send us documentation of the Syrphid Flies and other new species you encounter.  Allowing plants like cilantro and parsley to flower is a positive contribution to the balanced ecosystem that exists in a pesticide free and natural (and often unruly) garden because those are the plants that attract beneficial insects.  We have decided to feature your letter and photos because we hope that more gardeners will approach the endeavor with a more holistic approach and shun the carefully manicured gardens that might look pretty and perfect, but are actually sterile environments for native creatures.

Potter Wasp

Hi Daniel,
Thanks very much for the words of praise.  Last year we decided to let the lawn die in back, and this spring/summer we had all of the sod removed and replaced it with gravel paths and planting beds for native species (mostly grown from seed).  It’s surpassed my wildest hopes.  We’ve had so many wonderful “new” birds and insects visiting our little patch of heaven.  I did retain the vegetable patch, because I just can’t do without my tomatoes & peppers.  You have been a great help to me in identifying these wonderful creatures not only visit, but now seem comfortable enough to take up residence with us.  Please don’t give me too much credit, as most of what happens is a result of plain old procrastination!
I don’t know if you are aware, but I first ran across you as a result of a photo of a Mallophora fautrix photo I submitted.  I attempted to identify it as Bombylans and apparently it caught your eye . . .
Thanks very much again for all of your help and the time you spend answering my requests.

Hi Anna,
Thanks for the reminder on that wonderful Robber Fly image.  We remembered the numerous Syrphids you have submitted.

Location: California

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