Resin Mason Wasp and Unusual Nest from Australia

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.

22 thoughts on “Resin Mason Wasp and Unusual Nest from Australia”

  1. Ken Walker at BowerBird says there’s only two known aculeate wasps that use resin – 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. No good distribution data on either

    Reply
  2. I’ve used these discarded nests to light my fire place for years.
    They only use resin when its going to be humid weather for long periods.
    As the mud gets too damp.

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  3. I’ve used these discarded nests to light my fire place for years.
    They only use resin when its going to be humid weather for long periods.
    As the mud gets too damp.

    Reply
  4. I have one of these nests at Jamberoo, NSW. The wasps do not seem to be aggressive, so I’m leaving them alone to continue building their nest.

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  5. Hi guys,
    It seems that I have found a resin wasp as well. I am in Alstonville, near Lismore on the north coast of NSW.
    Richard

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  6. Hi guys,
    It seems that I have found a resin wasp as well. I am in Alstonville, near Lismore on the north coast of NSW.
    Richard

    Reply
  7. Hi Richard, i live at Nambucca Heads.
    My little friend has never worried about me, I have many movies or videos as they are now called of my little friend and even sleep just inches away from the nest building. Mine is not agressive at all .enjoy your new friend.
    Lismore I believe has beautiful fungi?

    Reply
  8. Hi Richard, i live at Nambucca Heads.
    My little friend has never worried about me, I have many movies or videos as they are now called of my little friend and even sleep just inches away from the nest building. Mine is not agressive at all .enjoy your new friend.
    Lismore I believe has beautiful fungi?

    Reply
  9. Hi, i have them too they like to build on my timber furniture. I didn’t know what the sticky stuff was on the arm of my chair and i ruined their nest by accident, then one stung me four time on the arm. We now have an understanding they can build in my bookshelf undisturbed. Noela

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  10. Oh my gosh I think they are amazing. My experience is they will not attack and will not bite unless you accidently squish them, which I did. Result being ….. you guessed it! I lay within 3 inches from everyday and one day material on my outside loung flipped over in the wind and I flipped it back and plonked myself down not realising one was stuck underneath. Touch and go for a while with wound as diabetic but hot salty water soaking few times seemed to calm injury down. 3 weeks later bite still fresh as a daisy though.
    Just got back from 6 weeks stint in Hospital after breaking ankle in 3 places. Hope no more issues!

    Reply
  11. Oh my gosh I think they are amazing. My experience is they will not attack and will not bite unless you accidently squish them, which I did. Result being ….. you guessed it! I lay within 3 inches from everyday and one day material on my outside loung flipped over in the wind and I flipped it back and plonked myself down not realising one was stuck underneath. Touch and go for a while with wound as diabetic but hot salty water soaking few times seemed to calm injury down. 3 weeks later bite still fresh as a daisy though.
    Just got back from 6 weeks stint in Hospital after breaking ankle in 3 places. Hope no more issues!

    Reply
  12. I have built blocks to attract solitary bees and wasps. One of my visitors is a tiny black resin wasp (Passaloecus). The female builds her nest in a hole in the block. She provisions her nest with aphids, then she lays an egg, and then she seals the hole with resin. I am writing from Colorado, USA.

    Reply
  13. Hi. We have some lovely resin mason wasps nesting in the bed. Two days ago I found this little dude seemingly stuck on some resin. He was doing some pumping motions. Hasn’t moved from this spot in over 72hrs. At first we thought it was an emerging adult resin wasp but it’s clear that it looks very different from a resin wasp. Is it an imposter? Is it’s bug that got stuck? Can anyone help identify this little creature? Thank you. Kat

    Reply

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