Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Another Side of Wasps

Ah yes, wasps can strike instant fear into our hearts. I can remember my first experience of being stung by a wasp and that was many, many moons ago.  So what's this other side???

Like Heidi Van Impe's story about the Bald-faced Hornet, there are many species in the Hymenoptera order that are non-aggressive, some even do not sting!  The long, intimidating "tails" of some wasps are not stingers but egg-laying organs called ovipositors.

Potter Wasps, also known as a Mason Wasps, are solitary and can sting we humans, but this rarely happens as they do not defend their nests.

The females do sting and paralyze caterpillars that they drop into the urns before they deposit a single egg into each container.  The wasp larvae will eat up to 12 caterpillars before it breaks out of it's chamber!

When sketching the pots, I wondered why one was open.  Was it waiting for the female to lay an egg?  Not!  My research tells me that the larvae has matured and left it's home!

By the by, the female Potter Wasp builds the urns all by herself!!  Go girl!


  1. A lovely sketch Pam. And I love the mud balls of the wasp - I have a whole collection!

  2. It's nice to see insects, even wasps, getting their artistic due. A very nice drawing Pam!

    We've had various wasps for 15 years or so in our backyard. They frequent all of our many small blossomed plants. I often will view them through very small binoculars and have caught and drawn them in the past. Often we brush by them on the mountain mint, or the fennel, or something else as we walk by. And never ever have they attacked.

    The only time that happened my poor wife went to throw out some old dried up flower bulbs into our composter. Little did she know that the bag of bulbs now held a wast nest. I think she was bitten 5-10 times before she dropped it and ran. Even then there were no serious problems.

    I know that some people are allergic and can have very bad reactions to them. But in all of our experience they have never attacked us, except that one time when my wife deicded to move their home for them into the composter!

  3. Thanks, Maree. I'd love to save these but they're on stucco. Think I'll just leave them and save having to clean mud off :)

    Thanks, Ken. Your poor wife!!! I'm afraid I'd have swollen up big time. Rob and I are always saving stuck bees/wasps. They have their jobs to do and we certainly need them!

  4. Beautiful picture Pam! I must say that we are (Harry) Potter fans big time here and the kids had a movie marathon on Sunday. The bees are going crazy up here with these cool nights we've had. We miss you!