Potter wasps make beautifully crafted pot-shaped nests out of mud and saliva: nature’s own potters! They are solitary insects and lay one or more eggs inside the nests (or pots) which they then provision with insects such as caterpillars or beetle larvae, for their offspring to feed on. I came across this beautiful specimen on Doi Pui in northern Thailand, which I identified as Phimenes flavopictus (Eumeninae), based on a better picture – far better than mine! – on the excellent Thailand Wildlife website (http://thailandwildlife.photoshelter.com/image/I00003PB4pNCpi.Q). I did not see the nest (pot) but the wasp appeared to be collecting soil or mud to take away to the unknown location. I wonder if the beautiful, slim, petiole-like waist – joining the thorax and abdomen – has a purpose? It may have something to do with egg laying.
I am an entomologist with a background in quarantine pests and invasive invertebrates. I studied zoology at Imperial College (University of London) and did a PhD on the population dynamics of a cereal aphid (Metopolophium dirhodum) in the UK. I spent 5 years with the British Antarctic Survey studing cold hardiness of Antarctic invertebates and 17 years with the Food and Environment Research Agency. My main interests now are natural history, photography, painting and bird watching.