(Click on the photo to enlarge)
I took this photo in late May, and even though I had never
seen anything like these little mud pots before, assumed
they were some kind of wasp nest similar to the well
known mud dauber's.
A bit of Googling tonight confirmed my theory, so I present
to you the nests of The Potter Wasp.
Here's some info, in my own words of course:
Unlike the hated yellowjacket and common paper wasps which
form communities, the potter wasp is a solitary creature.
Adults feed on nectar and are considered non-aggressive.
They build these clever little pots out of mud, usually
on twigs but they can also be found on buildings.
They were in the mortar crevice between two standard bricks
on the front of our house, so the thumbnail image above is a
little bigger than actual size.
After stinging caterpillars (to paralize them) they stuff
'em into a pot, lay an egg inside, then seal the top.
So the three on the left are complete, with life and death
inside, while the newest one on the right is waiting to be
When the eggs hatch, the wasp larvae feed on the caterpillars
until grown enough to break out and start the cycle anew.
Some historians believe that the pot's design and materials
influenced the Native Americans in their own pottery
Sadly, a brutal thunderstorm a few days later destroyed
these nests, so follow-up photos and a mid-cycle dissection
will have to wait until I can find some new ones next spring.
After much searching for similar pictures online I have
concluded that my photo has raised the bar several notches
due to it's size and clarity, thanks to the excellent macro
capabilities of the Sony F717.