Potter Wasp (Subfamily: Eumeninae) - Wiki
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Subfamily: Eumeninae (includes more than 200 genera)
[Photo] Mason wasp, own picture, May 2004, Germany. Photo by Wofl. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Eumenide_Nestbau.jpg
Potter wasps (or mason wasps) are a cosmopolitan wasp group presently treated as a subfamily of Vespidae, but sometimes recognized in the past as a separate family, Eumenidae.
Most eumenine species are black or brown, and commonly marked with strikingly contrasting patterns of yellow, white, orange, or red (or combinations thereof), but some species, mostly from tropical regions, show faint to strong blue or green metallic highlights in the background colors. Like most vespids, their wings are folded longitudinally at rest. They are particularly recognized by the following combination of characters:
1) Mesoscutum with a posterolateral projection known as parategula; 2) Tarsal claws cleft; 3) Hind coxae with a longitudinal dorsal carina or folding, often developed into a lobe or tooth; 4) Fore wing with 3 submarginal cells.
Eumenine wasps are diverse in nest building. The different species may either use pre-existing cavities (such as beetle tunnels in wood, abandoned nests of other hymenoptera or even man-made holes like old nail holes and even screw shafts on electronic devices) that they modify in several degrees, or they contruct their own either underground or exposed nests. The nest may have one to multiple individual brood cells. The most widelly used building material is mud made of a mixture of earth and regurgitated water, but many species use chewed plant material instead.
The name "potter wasp" derives from the shape of the mud nests built by species of Eumenes and similar genera. It is believed that Native Americans based their pottery designs upon the form of local potter wasp nests.
All known eumenine species are predators, most of them solitary mass provisioners, though some isolated species show primitive states of social behaviour and progressive provisioning.
When a cell is completed, the adult wasp typically collects beetle larvae, spiders or caterpillars and, paralyzing them, places them in the cell to serve as food for a single wasp larva. As a normal rule, the adult wasp lays a single egg in the empty cell before provisioning it. Some species lay the egg in the opening of the cell, suspended from a thread of dried fluid. When the wasp larva hatches, it drops and start to feed upon the supplied insects for a period of time that normaly last some few weeks before pupating. The complete life cycle may last from a few weeks to more than a year from the egg to the potter wasps that breaks out of the nest to begin its adult life. Adult potter wasps feed on floral nectar.
They are the most diverse subfamily of vespids, with more than 200 genera, and contain the vast majority of species in the family. The overwhelming morphological diversity of the potter wasp species is reflected in the proliferation of genera described to group them in more manageable groups. You can see here the list of potter wasp genera.
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