Mud “Plugs” (part 2) & Auplopus

Auplopus sp. constructed a series of mud lined cells in a bee block in Longmont

A series of Auplopus sp. cells constructed in a bee block in Longmont, Colorado

What is THAT?  Looking a bit like a dried up worm, this is a series of mud-lined cells constructed by a wasp in the genus Auplopus.  This unique nest is one of the more bizarre we have found in our nest blocks so far.  While it is not new to science, it was new to us.

The same nest with cells removed from the nesting tunnel.

The same nest with its 12 bead-like cells removed from the nesting tunnel.

This nest was constructed in the largest diameter nesting tunnel.  The wasp is much smaller than that, allowing for the overlap of several intertwining stands of bead-like cells.  Auplopus is a spider wasp (Family Pompilidae) and one of only two spider wasp genera that nest in our blocks.  They are called spider wasps because they provision each of their cells with a single spider for their young to feed upon. It is reported by previous scientists (Medler and later Krombein) that the “mom” wasp amputates the legs of the spider prior to bringing it back to the nest.  Ironically, this nesting tunnel was usurped by a spider, so the mom wasp never completed the nesting tunnel with a plug at the entrance. It was obvious (prior to the spider usurpation), that this nest contained mud cells, although they looked pretty much like dried slugs.

An Auplopus specimen with the mud cell from which it was reared.

An Auplopus sp. specimen with the mud cell from which it was reared.

A apecimen of Auplopus sp. Note the metallic blue color of the wasp.

A closer look at the specimen of Auplopus sp. Note the metallic blue color of the wasp.

 

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