The wait is over!
Last fall I found some odd-looking cocoons in my mason bee nesting tubes. I knew they were some type of wasp, but one finally emerged today!
In this photo you can see a Leafcutter Bee cocoon, far right, with the dark brown wasp cocoon next to it. The mother wasp provided lots of tasty paralyzed spiders for her little larva to eat (you can see the pile of leftovers), and then sealed the brood cell with a mud plug. Each species of wasp collects different insects as food for their carnivorous young, and without that service our gardens would be overrun with aphids, spiders and other insects.
This is what the wasp pupa looked like about three weeks ago, fully developed but lacking adult pigmentation. Mason wasps like these, that nest in tunnels or tubes, are ‘solitary’ wasps. They aren’t aggressive like ‘social’ wasps, such as hornets and yellow jackets, so no need to be afraid of them!
This is what chewed its way out of the wide end of the cocoon this morning – a quite common eastern U.S. mason wasp called Trypargilum clavatum. It has blue wings, partially yellow back legs, and a surprising amount of fuzz on its body, which will collect and disperse some pollen as it forages.
Okay, not the most exciting find from my bee tubes, but — mystery solved!