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Not dead but not moving either

July 17, 2018

Over the years Judy from Limestone has contributed several interesting photos to this blogsite and as previously noted they all involve dead things. Her latest contribution is a photograph (below) of the inside of a wasp’s mud nest which had accidentally been knocked off a wall. This time the creatures inside are not dead, but they are not moving either.

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Potter Wasp nest

Wasps from the Sphecidae and Crabronidae families build mud nests in a variety of shapes and sizes. Potter Wasps for example build urn-shaped structures (see photo right). Common Mud-daubers (Sceliphron laetum) build many chambered cylindrical nests (below left).

Mud-dauber nest

These nests act as breeding chambers for the young. After the nest is constructed (but before it is sealed) the female wasp hunts for spiders or caterpillars on which the young will feed. These they sting and paralyse and then

Potter Wasp carrying a caterpillar

carry them back to the nest where they are placed in the mud chambers (pictured right). A single egg is then laid on the immobile host and the chamber is sealed.  When the wasp larvae hatch they feed on the fresh still living but immobile host.

The dislodged nest pictured above clearly shows a collection of spiders which have been deposited in the mud chambers. In the chamber on the right a wasp larvae can be seen feeding on the green spider.

Gruesome as it is, the nest looks more jewel box than burial chamber.

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