What are these shells/husks/pods?
September 13, 2019 11:00 AM   Subscribe

Weird things found on a deck in Southwestern Ontario.

A friend found these on his deck, never seen anything like this before, wondering if you guys can help identify. He said he watched a bee crawl into one, and then seemed to close it? Would have thought that'd narrow it down, but googing has yielded nothing.


This is Southwestern Ontario.
posted by nerhael to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
Neat! It's not a bee, it's a wasp. She has paralyzed some critter, stuffed it in there and laid an egg on it, so that when junior hatches, they have a nice fresh meal to eat, usually enough to get them all the way to pupation, so that in a few weeks a grown up wasp will pop out.

There are actually a pretty good amount of wasp species that fit that description and MO, I'll see if I can narrow it down to a genus and come back.
posted by SaltySalticid at 11:29 AM on September 13, 2019 [8 favorites]

There are just too many wasps I don't think I can get it any further right now. So here's a good info portal for the Pompilidae, the spider wasps. It's got some good info and links, and includes a dichotomous key. Someone would probably have to collect a few and key it out to get an authoritative species ID, because there are probably several dozen species across a few dozen genera in your area.
It's possible it's not a spider wasp, but some other sort of solitary wasp. But for casual purposes, that's what you got there, a solitary wasp provisioning her nest, likely a spider wasp. It should be pretty easy to pry one open to see if there's a spider in there, or some other insect, etc.
posted by SaltySalticid at 11:43 AM on September 13, 2019

Those look a lot like tiny potter wasp nests.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 11:47 AM on September 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

The solitary Vespidae do the same thing as my original description too. Also most Pompilidae are ususally all black, and we can clearly see yellow in the first photo. So if you see a grub in there, it's a solitary vespid, not a spider wasp, and that's probably the safer guess given the color. (Thanks whimsicalnymph I knew there was a family I was missing.)
posted by SaltySalticid at 11:56 AM on September 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

Thanks guys. Had never seen that kind of thing before.
posted by nerhael at 4:12 AM on September 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

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