Sunday, December 7, 2014
Stopping To See Red Winterberry Bushes Led Me To Discover...
I wasn't expecting to find anything incredible when I was drawn to the riverbank by the brilliant red berries of these Winterberry bushes. As I was there taking photos, I made a fascinating discovery on the big rock pictured here in the foreground.
Truly, the exit hole gave it away.
Here is a close-up photo of one of the mason wasp nests showing the mud plastered over a cavity in the boulder. The rock and the mud are wet because it had just rained.
1. The mason wasp larva nearly fills the shallow cavity behind the mud wall.
2. There is a silk lining, or cocoon, evident behind the mud wall.
3. Only the surface of the mud wall of the mason wasp's nest is wet from the rain. The thin wall of mud must be somehow waterproofed.
Here is the mason wasp's nest with more of the plaster seal removed to expose the overwintering larva.
Three more observations:
1. The silk lining is contoured to the ridges along the larva's body (try zooming in on the photo).
2. The cavity must have had little room for whatever food-stores were provisioned for the mason wasp larva.
3. The plump little wasp larva was spending the winter in a dark, cold place until I carefully removed it to try to rear it to adulthood.
I wonder what species of mason wasp these larvae belong to, what their likely choices of food stocks might be, and whether there is an ingredient mixed with that mud to make the mud wall waterproof. If you happen to know and share those answers with me, I can skip sitting by that rock this coming summer -- not that I would mind...