Potter Wasp and Mud Pot Nest

Potter Wasp and Mud Pot Nest – Euodynerus sp.
Family Vespidae – hornets, paper and potter wasps, yellowjackets.
Live adult wasps photographed in the wild at Winfield, Illinois. Size: 13mm
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Potter Wasp 

Potter wasps construct mud "pots" or nest in underground burrows, cavities in plant stems, or abandoned nests of other wasps.  Adult potter wasps are commonly seen on the ground searching for prey or nectaring at flowers. They are common and can be numerous. I have encountered them thousands of times, and never once have they taken notice of me. I've never heard of anyone being stung by one.

Potter wasps nests can have one or more individual cells. When a cell is completed, the adult wasp collects a beetle larvae, spider or caterpillar and paralyzes it with venom and places it in the cell to serve as fresh, living food for the larva. In a few species, the adult wasp lays a single egg in the opening of the cell, suspended from a thread of dried fluid. When the wasp larva hatches, it drops and immediately feeds upon the larvae, and later breaks out of the nest to begin its adult life. Adult potter wasps feed on plant nectar.

Potter Wasp with caterpillar prey
This female potter wasp has captured and paralyzed a caterpillar with which to provision her mud pot egg chamber.
After hatching, the wasp larva eats the still-living host.

potter wasp mud pot
Single-cell mud pot nest

Potter Wasp


Order Hymenoptera: Bees, Wasps, & Ants
belong to this large order, which also includes sawflies. Most species are solitary, but some, such as the domestic honeybee, exhibit a complex social structure in which exist sterile female workers and fertile male and female royalty.
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