a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Potter wasp in October

16 Comments

It is the end of October and the garden is changing into its autumn colours although the weather is mild and many of the plants are late in flowering.

This wasp is working late into the season too.

On the ninth of October this little potter wasp was making probably its last nest on our house wall. I always marvel at the perfect little pot she builds. It is not far from the birds’ water bath so she has plenty of water to make her “clay”, mixing soil and saliva with her mandibles.

I think she is Delta unguiculatum or Eumenes unguiculatum, whichever nomenclature is current. She will lay her egg on the top of her pot and will then bring in a paralysed caterpillar to become the nourishment of the growing larva.

Watch this short video to see her engrossed in her work.

These wasps are not aggressive and have never caused us any problems. In fact, she is a good natural pest control for the garden.

When all is finished it will be covered by more special mortar, to cover one or more little pots. Her offspring will stay inside, metamorphosing into the adult during the cold winter but she will never see them fly. Her work is finished, she will never see them fly because she will not survive the winter.

The offspring will, hopefully, join the flowers in the garden next spring.

Author: afrenchgarden

Born in Scotland I have lived in England, Iran, USA and Greece. The house and land was bought twelve years ago in fulfilment of the dream of living in France that my Francophile husband nurtured. We had spent frequent holidays in France touring the more northerly parts and enjoying the food, scenery, architecture and of course gardens. However, we felt that to retire in France and enjoy a more clement climate than we currently had in Aberdeen we would need to find somewhere south of the river Loire but not too south to make returning to visit the UK onerous. The year 2000 saw us buying our house and setting it up to receive us and the family on holidays. The garden was more a field and we were helped by my son to remove the fencing that had separated the previous owners’ goats, sheep and chickens. We did inherit some lovely old trees and decided to plant more fruit trees that would survive and mature with the minimum of care until we took up permanent residence. The move took place in 2006 and the love hate relation with the “garden” started. There was so much to do in the house that there was little energy left for the hard tasks in the garden. It was very much a slow process and a steep learning curve. Expenditures have been kept to a minimum. The majority of the plants have been cuttings and I try to gather seeds wherever I can. The fruit trees have all been bought but we have tender hearts and cannot resist the little unloved shrub at a discount price and take it as a matter of honour to nurse it back to health. This year I have launched my Blog hoping to reach out to other gardeners in other countries. My aim is to make a garden for people to enjoy, providing shady and sunny spots with plants that enjoy living in this area with its limestone based subsoil and low rainfall in a warm summer. Exchanging ideas and exploring mutual problems will enrich my experience trying to form my French garden.

16 thoughts on “Potter wasp in October

  1. What a beautiful little beast. The pot entrance is a real work of art – if it wasn’t for seeing the wasp, one might think that a little pot had been mortared into the wall by the builders.

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  2. What a cute wasp! I don’t think we have those here, but I have seen little clay buildings like that, so maybe we have something similar. I love the education you give on it!

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  3. What a perfect pot! The video was great too. I was amazed when I saw one last year but they have not
    returned this cool year .

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  4. How wonderful to see this so close up and a lovely video as well! There is a relative of this wasp, the Heath Potter Wasp, that can be seen in Devon, a local naturalist, John Walters has made a study of these with some brilliant videos: http://johnwalters.co.uk/research/potter-wasps.php

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    • Thank you for that. It looks a close relative of my wasp and I was interested that the Heath Potter Wasp often has two broods. This might be the case of mine too. He seems a great source of information with excellent videos so I have subscribed to his YouTube site. Amelia

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  5. This just reminds us how wonderful nature is and faith in the future to lay an egg knowing you will never see your offspring.

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  6. Hello Amelia,
    Wonderful stills and videos of a type of insect I’ve never seen before. If one reflects on how many hours of practice and effort it would take many of us to achieve such an aesthetic opening, it does belie the size of brain and short lifespan of the tiny potter. Thank you for sharing these,
    best wishes
    Julian

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  7. I’ve never seen that kind of wasp before but she’s lovely and a very clever builder!

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