Lucky you! This week there are two different insects to learn about, and both are wasps. Let’s start with Eumenids.
Scientific name: Eumeninae, including members of the genera Euodynerus, Ancistrocerus, Stenodynerus, Symmorphus
Common name: Eumenids, potter or mason wasps
Family: Vespidae, subfamily Eumeninae
Nest type: Mud (both nest plugs and cell walls are mud)
Size: 3/8 to 1 inch in length
Nest tunnels used: 1/8” to 3/8” depending on the species
Looks like: most likely, what you would draw if you got “wasp” in a game of Pictionary, usually black and yellow
When people talk about Eumenids, they could be talking about any one species within the multiple genera that the term includes. I can’t possibly write about them all in one post but there’s plenty for you to find out yourself if you’re curious. Some unifying traits are their solitary nature and that paper wasps and yellowjackets are their cousins. Eumenids usually provision their nests with caterpillars though some use beetle larvae, very satisfying! You can find them in your blocks all summer long.
DID YOU KNOW: Some Eumenid species make free-standing nests made entirely out of mud that can look like baby castles or pots—hence the name “potter wasps”.
Next up are the Chrysidids, a family of wasps equally as opportunistic as it is beautiful.
Scientific name: Chrysididae
Common name: Gold wasps, Cuckoo wasps
Nest type: parasites in Eumenid nests
Size: 1/4 to 3/4 inch in length
Nest tunnels used: look for them exploring various tunnels in your bee block
Looks like: A bright, metallic wasp that can be purple, green, blue, red, yellow, brown, or a combination of all these colors. Our species are green or bluish green.
Just like with Eumenids, Chrysidids are a group of wasps that encompass many genera with different characteristics, but one particularly cunning trait unites them. They make their living by sneaking into wasp nests and laying their own egg that then hatches and the Chrysidid larva feeds on the Eumendid larva or its provisions. They could not possibly be more beautifully or ostentatiously colored. I’m sure there’s a moral in there somewhere…