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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Marble-Sized Mud Balls on Plant Leaves a Good Thing

Q. I sent you some pictures of a round object about the size of a large marble with an entry hole in it. I found it attached to the leaf of a cats claw leaf in my backyard of my Summerlin home.  I only have found one so I am not worried about lots of pests from this one vessel.
Potter wasp nest on cats claw vine leaf

A. I think this hard, mud-like ball with a hole in it, attached to a leaf, was left behind by a mason wasp. The mason wasp is also sometimes called a Potter wasp because of these round mud balls with a hole in it that resemble pottery. It has been theorized that Native Americans based some pottery designs from the mud balls left behind by Potter wasps.
            Wasps are generally divided into two categories; those that live with other wasps in a community which are called “social” wasps, and those wasp that live by themselves which are termed “solitary” wasps.

            Potter wasps are considered solitary; they live alone and build this mud nest for a single, solitary offspring. After building this pottery-like nest, the female finds a grub that will fit in it, paralyzes it by stinging and places it in the nest along with an egg. The developing youngster uses it for food.
            Potter wasps are not aggressive towards humans or other large animals unless they are provoked then they can sting multiple times without dying unlike a bee. They would be considered a beneficial insect in the garden area.

            Consider Potter wasp mud nests as one of the “good things” in gardens and landscapes. Just give the adult wasp its own space.

You can learn more about them here

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