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Ants Sawflies Bees and Wasps: Hymenoptera

Potter Wasp (eumenes Fraternus): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics The body of a potter wasp measures 0.51 to 0.66 inches (13 to 17 millimeters) in length. It is black with yellow markings on the thorax and abdomen. The dark smoky wings have a violet iridescence. The first abdominal segment is very slender, but the second is broad and bell-shaped. The middle legs, just before the feet, have only one spur at the tip.

Geographic range: Potter wasps are found in the eastern United States, west to Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Habitat: Adults are found in open areas or on flowers.

Potter wasps are found in the eastern United States, west to Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. (Illustration by Barbara Duperron. Reproduced by permission.)

Diet: Adults feed on nectar; larvae eat caterpillars.

Behavior and reproduction: Potter wasps live alone. They build jug-shaped nests out of mud that have narrow necks with an expanded rim.

The female suspends a single egg from the wall of the nest with a slender thread. She then packs the nest with one to twelve paralyzed caterpillars and seals the nest with more mud. The hatching wasp grub eats the living but paralyzed prey provided by its mother. The larva pupates inside the nest. After emerging from the pupa, the adult breaks its way out of the nest.

Potter wasps and people: Because they do not defend their nests, potter wasps are not aggressive and seldom sting people. Their mud nests are believed to have been the models for clay pots made by native Americans.

Conservation status: This species is not considered endangered or threatened. ∎



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"Hymenoptera. Wasps, bees, ants." Ecowatch. http://www.ento.csiro.au/Ecowatch/Hymenoptera.html (accessed on November 8, 2004).

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Bug City. Ants. Wynnewood, PA: Schlessinger Media, 1998.

Bug City. Bees. Wynnewood, PA: Schlessinger Media, 1998.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceInsects and SpidersAnts Sawflies Bees and Wasps: Hymenoptera - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Hymenopterans And People, Conservation Status, Honeybee (apis Mellifera): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT