Potter wasps and mason wasps

Eumenes wasp or potter wasp


Nest of potter wasp under a goldenrod leaf

Some little wasps build nests that look exactly like clay pots, so, naturally, they are called potter wasps. You may find one of these interesting clay pots glued to the underside of a leaf or to a stem.
There are also other wasps, related to potter wasps that also use clay to build their nests, except that they do not make little pots, so these are called mason wasps. They make use of hollow twigs or abandoned holes made in wood by beetle larvae. Both mason and potter wasps capture prey, usually caterpillars, which they take to their nests to feed their brood

Mason wasp, Ancistrocerus antilope, on goldenrod

Both types of wasps are mostly black with a striking pattern of white or yellow stripes. They measure from ½” to ¾”. The abdomen of potter wasps has a second narrowing behind the “wasp waist” giving them a distinctive look. The abdomen of mason wasps is not like that of potter wasps. At most it has a slight narrowing and it is more robust.

Habitat. Fields, meadows, farms.

Season. From March to December, but mostly they are seen between July and October.

Flowers. A wide variety of flowers, mostly in the aster family; very numerous on goldenrods. Also in some Apiaceae, such as queen Anne’s lace.

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