Potter Wasp: 1. Egg laying and prey

on 21st March 2016

“It’s now nesting season, not just for birds but also Potter Wasps (Vespidae: Eumininae) it seems. Perhaps it’s because of the latter and other insect births at this time, that the former is timed upon?

PotterWasp-egg laying [LenaChow] 1

“I have been observing a Delta sp. wasp constructing its nest in my porch, comprising of cells or chambers resembling clay pots (above).

“Once the wasp (I read it is the female that constructs the nest) puts the finishing touches on the neck of a pot, she deposits her egg (I understand that she lays one egg in every pot). See video here:

“She then proceeds to bring back to the nest paralysed prey (in this case, Nolid moth caterpillars) which she catches, paralyses by injection of venom and seals them in with her eggs. When the wasp larvae emerge, they will have fresh meat to feed on.

PotterWasp-egg laying [LenaChow] 2

“Peering into an open cell, one can just make out a few paralysed but twitching Nolid moth caterpillars (above).

PotterWasp-egg laying [LenaChow] 3

“Within a few hours, more paralysed caterpillars are piled into the cell until it is full (above).

PotterWasp-egg laying [LenaChow] 4

“This species of Nolid or ‘Big-head’ caterpillar has an enlarged green thorax which is thought to act as a deterrent to birds by resembling unripe berries (above).

PotterWasp-egg laying [LenaChow] 5

“The adult wasp then starts sealing the open cell with more mud, by using her front pair of legs to pat down and shape the blob of wet mud which she has carried back to the nest (above).

“Video of wasp sealing the cell full of caterpillars and her eggs above.

PotterWasp-egg laying [LenaChow] 6

“Just 3-4 mud-collecting trips in as many minutes, and the cell is completely sealed (above, below).

PotterWasp-egg laying [LenaChow] 7

“The caterpillars are consumed alive when the larvae hatch. The larvae then proceed to pupate, and the adult wasp will break through the mud nest to begin its adult life.”

Lena Chow
11th March 2016

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

One Response

  1. Hai, I’m from Indonesia, country with tropis climate, and found this in front of my home, I’m so scared but now I know everything about this insect from this website, thank you so much

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