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Nest - Monodontomerus

Nest - Monodontomerus
Burlington, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA
June 20, 2008
Size: 4mm
Nest is about 4.5cm diameter. Inhabitants are about 4mm.

Images of this individual: tag all
Wasp - Monodontomerus - female Nest - Monodontomerus Nest - Monodontomerus Pupa? - Monodontomerus

My torymid contact specified carder bee nest for this structure, and I wrongly presumed that he specifically meant Anthdium manicatum, but he only meant Anthidium, and he had personally reared Monodontomerus from what he believed to be an Anthidium nest. As for what kinds of Monodontomerus have been reared from Anthidium, they are listed among the chalcid associates of Anthidium in the UCD (Universal Chalcid Database). Of the several species on Anthidium in the Nearctic Region, the most common and most widely distributed is Monodontomerus montivagus. It hasn't been recorded from MA but has been from adjacent states, so seems most likely to be the species represented here. I discussed this with my torymid contact, and he concurs. Of course, if the nest isn't that of an Anthidium species, that might alter the likelihood that it is Monodontoomerus montivagus.

Response from an Anthidium expert
Terry Griswold says: "I can’t tell from the 3 pictures whether this is an Anthidium nest. The cells could be but the matrix is unlike anything I’ve seen. . . Any chance any of the cells have pupae or parts of dead adults?"
Looks like we may not get any further with this until I relocate the nest and dissect some of the cocoons. That should happen some time in the next few months...

Moved from Torymidae.

Hi John,
I received this thing today... it is perplexing. I will do some more dissecting and investigating when I have time, but after looking at it under a microscope, I have the impression that it is some kind of synthetic material. It is made up of coarse, coiled fibers--definitely not the frothy material of a mantid ootheca, or the paper of a wasp nest. It doesn't seem to be silk either, but I haven't tried tearing it apart yet.

The objects inside seem to be hymenopteran cocoons, made of very tightly woven parchment-like silk. They definitely do not belong to the chalcids that emerged. If chalcids did make cocoons like this, they would be much smaller. They resemble the cocoons of diprionid sawflies, but I don't know what they would be doing in a whatever-this-is. I'll keep you posted if I have any new insights...

How about a controlled release of Monodontomerus dentipes to attack invasive Diprionidae? Do you have any contacts who could confirm or deny?

I've been asking around...
and Bob Carlson's anonymous torymid contact says he thinks it's the nest of the carder bee, which is a known host of Monodontomerus. I should still have this thing somewhere; I just moved, but I'll be on the lookout for it as I'm unpacking boxes, and I'll take another look at it under my scope to see if that makes any sense.

Do bees have cocoons?
I thought bees, with larvae growing in protected chambers, did not pupate in cocoons.


At full resolution, there are no parchment-like cocoons evident in that photo. However, John Ascher identified these as Anthidium sp.:

I haven't asked him directly about this nest yet, but I made a post yesterday to the bee monitoring listserve, where I think he will see it.
Also, Dave Smith got back to me yesterday, and he agreed that they look like diprionid cocoons but was puzzled about what the white substance is or how the cocoons would have come to be grouped inside it. I emailed a couple of other folks I know who are involved in insect biocontrol in Massachusetts; one said she had never seen anything like this and the other hasn't responded yet. I guess Anthidium is the leading candidate, but it sure is a peculiarly shaped nest if that's what it is.

Ascher moved the images from Anthidium to manicatum. The fact that the blobs in the image are cocooons is shown by the photo of a manicatum adult that was dissected from one of the cocoons.

Moved from Chalcid Wasps.

Not nest?
The wasps are parasitic, in the Chalcidoidea, which means something else should have come out of that structure, whatever it is. What is it made of, anyway? Could it be a cocoon or something? I've never seen anything like it.

Mystery goo
It is about 1cm thick. Prodded with a stick it feels spongy. I don't know what it is made of.

There were no wasps when I went out to look a minute ago. There were several shortly before noon. Maybe a female wasp attracted a crowd of males, and all left after she injected her eggs.

I wonder if this is not a mantid ootheca. Out here in Arizona they are frequently parasitized. Wasps are definitely emerging, hence the exit holes.

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