Potter WaspPotter Wasp – identity crisis Potter Wasp – larder Potter Wasp – mud nest Potter Wasp – water

One of the fascinating things about the Potter Wasp (Delta latreillei, previously classified as Eumenes latreilli), also commonly known as Mud Wasp, are the mud nests they create for their larvae. The mud nest vary in shape and size, depending on where they are built or mounted. It is unknown if individual Potter Wasps only construct certain shape nest, or vary their build (that is if they build more then one nest or different shape nests in their lifetime).

Nest of the Mud Wasp (Eumenes latreilli), Alice Springs, NT
Nest of the Mud Wasp (Eumenes latreilli), Alice Springs, NT

Another feature of the mud nests, whether they are built against an upright structure or on the ground, is the material the nest is constructed from. Commonly known as mud nest, as the name suggests, the mud used in the construction may vary in colour, depending on the type of mud used. In Central Australia, we see mud nest built from reddish sand and from the more grey-like clay.

In the following mud nest, it was built on the ground, below the mud nest (pictured above) against the wall. We saw identical looking mud wasps creating the mud nests. We are unsure whether it was the same mud wasp, the progeny or another adult entirely.

The Potter Wasp need access to water, such as waterholes, gorges, sewerage ponds and gardens, such as ponds and pools. These provide a source of water from which they mix the sand/clay to create a mud paste for making their nests and adding to existing mud nests.

The following mud nest was constructed against the pillar leg, under a sandstone table, near a fish pond and swimming pool. It has been revisited over a couple of years by the mud wasp. The holes are either new holes to lay the larva and deposit the caterpillar as food or holes from the previous larvae that have emerged as adult mud wasps.

The nests of the Potter Wasp are varied in size and shapes, subject to the different species of mud wasps. They are often built against the walls of buildings, along the mortar line of bricks, window frames, even a small nest can be built on a hook. Some species do build their nests on the ground.

Many Mud Wasps come back to the same nest year after year, adding more mud to the existing structure. Holes are created within the mud where they place their prey (usually a caterpillar) for the larvae to feed on. The hole is then sealed. The evidence of the larvae having pupated into the adult wasp and having left the nest is the exposed hole opening.

In the following image of a damaged mud nest, there were actually three larvae in the one nest, although it did appear that the larvae were sealed into different parts of the mud nest (cells) with the necessary food (caterpillars).

The following mud nest was originally built underneath the L-bend of an outdoor sewerage pipe down the shady side of a building. It was accidentally knocked off or fell off. You can see the shape and the inside of the empty mud nest.

  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Hymenoptera
  • Family: Vespidae
  • Subfamily: Eumeninae
  • Genus: Delta
  • Species D. latreillei
  • Binomial name: Delta latreillei

  • Genus: Eumenes
  • Species: E. latreilli

Potter WaspPotter Wasp – identity crisis Potter Wasp – larder Potter Wasp – mud nest Potter Wasp – water

WaspsAustralian Mud Nest Wasps Bembicinae Bembix Eumeninae Mud Wasp Orange-collared Spider Wasp Potter Wasp Pseudabispa bicolor ssp. nigrocinctoides Yellow and Black Wasp Yellow Hairy Flower Wasp Yellow Hairy Flower Wasp – R tasmaniensis