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- updated 2014-11-05 -

Australian Hornet
Abispa ephippium (Fabricius)


Identification:

  • Head, antenna and legs orange

  • Mesosoma black with orange triangle

  • Metasoma wide black band in middle

Nests:

  • Sheltered position

  • Builds entrance chimney which not used once a group of cells in completed

  • Will cut into leaf shelter with mandibles to collect prey

Behavior:

  • One individual uses a large area

  • Preys only on caterpillars

  • Forages around infested trees and shrubs.

australian hornet
Picture taken by Markus Barth

Scientific classification:

  • Potter wasps comprise the subfamily Eumeninae in the family Vespidae, which also contains hornets, yellowjackets, and paper wasps.

More information:

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Hymenoptera
  • Family: Vespidae
  • Genus: Abispa (potter wasps)

Potter Wasp, common name for a group of caterpillar-hunting wasps known for the pot-shaped mud nests built by some species. Potter wasps are also known as mason wasps.

The potter wasps are closely related to the paper wasps. However, potter wasps do not form colonies. Unlike many Vespids, potter wasps are solitary and build nests that resemble small earthen pots attached to vegetation or the sides of buildings, often in small groups. Female potter wasps lay an egg inside each pot which she then stocks with caterpillars for the developing larvae to feed on. Potter wasp adults feed on flower nectar and collect small caterpillars to feed their brood. The caterpillars are paralyzed with the wasp's sting and piled into the brood cell-that is, the compartment in which the wasp larva develops. The female wasp then lays an egg on the stored caterpillars. When the larvae are mature they pupate in their pot and emerge as a fully developed potter wasp. The potter wasp larva consumes from 1 to 12 caterpillars as it grows.


Potter wasps are important in the natural control of caterpillars. Although capable of stinging, they are rarely aggressive and never even bother us!

 


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