Subject: Wasp or hornet
Location: Costa Rica near Arenal Volcano
April 7, 2016 9:31 am
Could you tell me what type of bug this is? Wasp or hornet? What kind? Does it sting?
Thanks!
Signature: Paige

Carton Wasp Nest

Carton Wasp Nest

Dear Paige,
Upon researching your request, we first encountered out own posting of Warrior Wasps,
Synoeca septentrionalis, and we believe your images depict the same species.  Alas, not all websites have the longevity that we enjoy, and several of the links from our 2014 posting are no longer active.  We did locate new images on American Insects that identify two members of the genus, Synoeca septentrionalis or S. surinama, as Carton Wasps, and this information is provided:  “Synoeca species are distributed from Mexico to Argentina.  The genus is a small one, with five described species (Andena et al., 2009).  Wasps in this genus are swarm founders, with a queen and a number of workers moving together to a site for a new nest. Swarm founders (which also include other genera such as Agelaia and Polybia) make large and elaborate nests, usually inside an envelope.  In certain other paper wasp genera, nests are founded by a queen without the help of workers, and typically the nests are smaller and exposed (Nadkarni and Wheelright, editors, 2000).  Two species of Synoeca are yellowish overall:  S. chalibea and S. virginea.  The other 3 species are bluish to blackish. Wings are dark. Nests house about 200 individuals and are often attached to a leaning tree; if disturbed, the wasps inside making a drumming noise.  As the nest grows, its external surface has transverse corrugations looking like an armadillo’s back, hence these wasps are locally referred to as ‘armadillos’ or ‘cachicamas.'”  According to the National Science Foundation:  “In some areas of South America, the local name for this species is ‘armadillo wasp,’ in reference to the form of the nest. When mildly disturbed, the workers will produce an ominous rhythmic sound by rubbing against the nest paper. In Costa Rica, they are euphemistically called ‘guitar players.’ Upon further disturbance, they are capable of mounting a ferocious attack, and the stings are reputed to be exquisitely painful. The sting apparatus is barbed, and will often embed in the skin of the unlucky nest predator. This wasp is mimicked by many less-dangerous insects, presumably to gain protection from the resemblance.”  We really enjoyed researching your request.

Carton Wasp

Carton Wasp

Location: Arenal, Costa Rica

2 Responses to Cachicamas or Carton Wasps from Costa Rica

  1. Frank Kearns says:

    I have these wasps building a nest on the back of my house near a kitchen window. I would love to leave it alone but is this a good idea since I have children. How long before the bees leave the nest? If ever. Thanks,
    Frank Kearns
    Lake Arenal, Costa Rico

  2. Frank Kearns says:

    I have these wasps building a nest on the back of my house near a kitchen window. I would love to leave it alone but is this a good idea since I have children. How long before the bees leave the nest? If ever. Thanks,
    Frank Kearns
    Lake Arenal, Costa Rico

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