Subfamily Eumeninae - Potter and Mason Wasps
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Hymenoptera (Ants, Bees, Wasps and Sawflies)
No Taxon (Aculeata - Ants, Bees and Stinging Wasps)
Superfamily Vespoidea (Yellowjackets and Hornets, Paper Wasps; Potter, Mason and Pollen Wasps and allies)
Family Vespidae (Yellowjackets and Hornets, Paper Wasps; Potter, Mason and Pollen Wasps)
Subfamily Eumeninae (Potter and Mason Wasps)
For an online key to the 13 genera occurring in the northeast see the Identification Atlas of the Vespidae of the northeastern Nearctic region
All of this subfamily have folded wings, like the rest of the Vespidae. A difficult group even to identify as to genus. Usually patterned boldly in black and yellow or white. A few genera can be identified by their distinctive abdomens, especially the juncture of abdomen and thorax, the first and second abdominal segments:
First two abdominal segments forming a tapered petiole linking abdomen and thorax: Eumenes
(true Potter Wasps), Zethus
, and Zeta
Abdomen blunt where it meets thorax, with no obvious petiole between the two. Large, common wasps, with bold pattern: Monobia
(Mason Wasps, only two species).
Other genera are not easy to recognize. They usually have abdominal segments one and two about the same width, as best I can tell: Ancistrocerus
, Leptochilus, Parancistrocerus, Pachodynerus
All habitats from northern boreal forests to the deserts of the southwestern United States.
Throughout the warm season, year-round in some southern states.
Eumenines prey mainly upon moth larvae, although some take larvae of leaf-feeding beetles.
Adults take nectar.
Most species nest in pre-existing cavities (e.g., old borings in wood, hollow stems, crevices in rocks). They are called mason wasps because they use mud (or less commonly sand) as partitions between their brood cells. Some species construct nests in the ground (e.g., all Pterocheilus
, Euodynerus annulatus
, E. auranus
, E. crypticus
). Some ground-nesting species build small mud turrets over the nest entrance (Odynerus dilectus
, Euodynerus annulatus
). Other species construct more or less free-standing nests of mud ("potter wasps" because of the shape of some of these nests), e.g. Eumenes
There are a number of cleptoparasites and parasites of eumenine wasps, with chrysidid wasps, mutillid wasps, and sarcophagid flies being most frequently reared from nests.
Arnett pp. 588-589, discusses group. (2)
Lutz, pp. 415-416 (3rd ed.), gives a partial key, very useful! (3)
|1.||Identification Atlas of the Vespidae (Hymenoptera, Aculeata) of the Northeastern Nearctic Region|
Matthias Buck, Stephen A. Marshall, and David K. B. Cheung. 2008. Biological Survey of Canada [Canadian Journal of Arthropod Identification].