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Four-toothed Mason Wasp (Monobia quadridens)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Four-toothed Mason Wasp

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Sometimes mistaken for the Bald-faced Hornet, the Four-toothed Mason Wasp is not nearly as social.

Updated: 01/03/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The solitary Four-toothed Mason Wasp is a beneficial insect to have in the garden, just like its doppelganger, the Bald-faced Hornet. The Mason Wasp reduces the number of leaf-rolling caterpillars by using them as food for their newly hatched larvae. Shiny black, hairless bodies have white, angled 'shoulder' marks. A thin white band before the waist and a thicker white band after the waist contrast sharply with the rest of the body. The black wings have a metallic luster to them, reflecting shades of purple and blue.

A female will create a nest in an abandoned hole created by a Carpenter Bee, Mud Dauber, or ground nests from another species of bee, or she uses hollow tubes found in the area like plants stems, pipes, or hollowed-out tree branches. Once the location is determined, she builds cells in it where she will lay her fertilized eggs. She then begins to hunt a variety of moth and cutworm caterpillars in order to sting them, permanently paralyzing them. She brings them back to her nest and puts a few in each cell with an egg, and then plugs the cell up with mud. Hatched larvae begin feeding on the living caterpillars in their cells. After a few days of growing, a larva will pupate in the cell. Some late-season larvae will overwinter as pupae. After pupating, it will eventually chew through the mud cell and free itself. Adults drink flower nectar. They are most active in the summer and usually found in gardens and meadows.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Spiny / Spiky insect icon
Insect stinger icon
Striped or banded insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hymenoptera
        Family: Vespidae
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          Genus: Monobia
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            Species: quadridens

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Monobia quadridens
Other Name(s): Carpenter Wasp, Mason Wasp
Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Size (Adult; Length): 15mm to 21mm (0.59" to 0.82")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; yellow; white
Descriptors: flying; bands; stripes; hornet; stinging

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 15mm (0.6in) and 21mm (0.8in)
Lo: 15mm
Md: 18mm
Hi: 21mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Four-toothed Mason Wasp may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Four-toothed Mason Wasp. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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