Thursday, 9 January 2014

Pottering along

The potter wasp (Delta arcuata) has finished her nest, laid her egg and provided her soon-to-hatch larva with a caterpillar to feed on while it grows.

Here's the building sequence. This process took a few hours. I think much of that time was spent trying to find some mud in this uncharacteristically dry and crackling landscape.

The finishing touch was the pot's flared lip. (I gave her some room for this photo. And the next one too. These wasps are not aggressive, but having a camera and flash stuck in your face might be considered provocation.)


Then it was ready for the egg.

And finally, provisions: a living caterpillar. I missed seeing her bring in the caterpillar. I would have risked a sting to get a photo of that. Possibly.

Here's a close up of the paralysed caterpillar. The head and legs are to the left. The dark spots on the side are spiracles.

It's grim, but it's also amazing.


Rose ~ from Oz said...

I think her nest is nothing short of brilliant!
Is this wasp the same as what we call a 'hornet' down here? I remember them being quite passive. We used to see them all the time when I was growing up here, but I honestly can't remember the last time I saw a 'hornet'.

diane b said...

A fabulous series of shots. I can see why it is called the Potter Wasp.

Snail said...

Rose, I think the term 'hornet' gets applied to a range of wasps, including flower wasps and spider-killers. They tend to get on with their business, rather than worry about people. Still, they're quite fearsome!

Snail said...

Diane, the finish is a bit rough, but these wasps are very meticulous. They use their antennae to constantly measure the dimensions of the nest to make sure they're right.

biobabbler said...

And she is SO beautiful. Dangerous beauty. Really cool to see the building process. Thanks!

Sherrie York said...

A great series of photos of a lovely wee critter, but I just want to confirm: INside the house? Hm. Roommates with stingy bits seem to oblige one to be on one's best behavior at all times. Don't want to be perceived as confrontational. I'm not sure I'm that graceful.

Snail said...

Yes, but we ignore each other. Apart from the whole camera thing.

I was more worried about the dirt staining the walls, but it dries out thoroughly so there's no mark. Phew!

Something broke into that nest and made off with both the larva and caterpillar, but the wasp has rebuilt the nest and laid another egg.