Subject: Mason wasp? Very cool nesting! (pics)
Location: Austin, TX
June 5, 2015 6:12 pm
Last year on my patio popped up a large paper wasp nest and family. I let em stay because they were never aggressive and far enough away. I never bothered knocking the nest down, and then one day this spring I saw something interesting. There was a wasp returning to the nest. I looked closer and saw it was packing mud in the holes…hmm? It looked really similar to a regular Texas paper wasp, but a little different.
After it left I looked closer and saw a mud packed hole and another she was working on. Inside it looked like little gray and green tree caterpillars/worms. Very cool! During the next weeks/month it made more nests, quite efficient compared to the standard mud pods we see. Also during this time I noticed that the numerous smaller and new for the season paper wasp nests died off, except for one lone wasp now. I would find dead paper wasps 1 or 2 a day on the patio, and eventually their little nests were cut down/disappeared one day.
Today I looked at it, and most of the little mud “caps” were open, and there happened to be a wasp that just emerged hanging there. Wings are small so it can’t have been out too long. Snapped some pics!
Not much of a bug nerd, but I sound like it now! Just found this really interesting and couldn’t find anything about this on the internet at all. On your site here and google, looks like a mason wasp possibly? Ever heard of this behavior?
It is our understanding that Paper Wasps do not reuse nests, and we have not heard of any mud nesting wasps using abandoned Paper Wasp nests, nor has our internet research turned up anything in our initial search. We wish you had a better image of the “recycling” Wasp. Perhaps one of our readers will be able to add some information. We will also try to contact Eric Eaton to see if he can provide any information.
Eric Eaton Confirms Mason Wasp
Phil is correct. This is a mason wasp of some kind. Many kinds of solitary bees and wasps will use pre-existing cavities as nests, including old mud dauber nests, and, at least occasionally, abandoned paper wasp nests.
Yeah it was hard to get a good angle and keep my arms perfectly still being high up. I did see one return to the nest yesterday, but it fly off before I could snap a pic. Looks like another one hatched too. Looking at more pics on google, I see some that look very similar to a kind of Mason wasp: