Potter Wasp – Identification
Q: This thing was on a branch of my Russian sage. It looks like a miniature vase/urn made of red clay. I could see there was something inside it and I suspected it was a larva/caterpillar/ whatever but, to my surprise, when I broke it open there was not one but 8 or 9 worms/larvae of various sizes. Hard to believe they all fit into that tiny space. Have you seen anything like this before?
A: The cute urn was constructed by a potter wasp. The female gathers mud to make the container and then collects caterpillars to stuff inside. An egg is laid on the prey; when it hatches there is a freash meal waiting!
Potter wasps are kin to the mud dauber and pipe organ wasps that build “prey holders” under porch ceilings, in garages and in sheds throughout the South.
You’ll recognize them because most are black and non-threatening, unlike the more aggressive paper wasp.
Enjoy your new knowledge and leave the next container undisturbed so the wasps can continue their good work.