Potter Wasp

Photo by: Bryan Reynolds

Eumenes sp.

Potter wasps are a subfamily of wasps that encompasses an estimated 3,000 species, but less than 300 are found in North America. In addition to being pollinators, this beneficial group of wasps reduce populations of other insects that would otherwise damage plants.

Like other species of wasp, particularly mud daubers, these wasps will build nesting cellsfor their eggs and larvae. In the Potter wasp group, these burrows are also known as “mud pots.” Sometimes they will also take advantage of pre-existing cavities as homes. Paralyzed prey are brought into these burrows to be consumed by the growing larvae which may consumeup to 12 caterpillars (a staple food) during their maturation.

Like thread-waisted wasps, potter wasps have a thin “waist” breaking up their thorax andabdomen. Adults themselves consume nectar, and are most commonly observed from June to October, frequenting flowers.

Written by: Robert Gibson, an undergraduate Environmental Studies student at the University of Oklahoma