One of the most interesting wasps was a mud-dauber in the family Eumenes. The mud wasps build elegant little pots out of mud. Click here to see a You-tube video of a mud pot being made -- it's cool.
I am revisiting this because I recently found some empty pots on the wall of a building in southern New Jersey, near Atlantic City. Just two empty pots and no sign of the builder.
What I didn't mention in last summer's blog is why the wasps make mud pots. The pots are nurseries. Tiny somewhat gruesome little nurseries. A mother wasp captures an unfortunate insect -- a caterpillar, cricket, or spider depending on what species of wasp is shopping. She deposits the paralyzed thing in a fresh mud pot, lays an egg on it, and seals it. When the wasp egg hatches, a fresh meal is waiting and will serve throughout the wasp's early development. Talk about your inherently cruel nature!
It makes me think of Tennyson, of "nature, red in tooth and claw..."
From In Memoriam A.H.H., by Alfred Tennyson
- Are God and Nature then at strife,
- That Nature lends such evil dreams?
- So careful of the type she seems,
- So careless of the single life;
- That I, considering everywhere
- Her secret meaning in her deeds,
- And finding that of fifty seeds
- She often brings but one to bear
There is more information about urban and suburban birds in my book, Field Guide to Urban Wildlife, published by Stackpole Books. It's available now from Amazon.com, Barneandnoble.com, and Stackpolebooks.com -- links are on the right of the page.