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Potter Wasp (Euodynerus spp.)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Potter Wasp

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Solitary and quiet, Potter Wasps go about their business paying little attention to their human neighbors.

Updated: 08/03/2023; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
There are a variety of Potter Wasps in North America. Those in the genus Euodynerus look similar to each other, with some species requiring close inspection to differentiate. Black bodies have a short yellow band above the waist on the thorax. Some species have a pair of yellow dots near this band. A somewhat decorative yellow band sits at the top of the abdomen and a second, plain yellow band is on the lower half. Wings appear black. Black legs have yellow feet. Antennae are black.

All are hunters of caterpillars. A female generally looks for abandoned nests from other types of wasps; it is easier than building one from scratch. Once a nest is obtained, she hunts down a caterpillar, stinging it only to paralyze it. She brings it back to the nest and packs it inside a cell with a fertilized egg. Once the egg hatches, the wasp larva eats away at the caterpillar, eventually killing it. The larva pupates and emerges as a winged adult.

Potter Wasps are not aggressive and generally leave people alone. They may build nests close to human habitats, which could cause more encounters between people and the insect, so removing piles of wood from the exterior of the house can help prevent a population from growing uncomfortably close to high-traffic areas.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying 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: Euodynerus
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            Species: spp.

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Euodynerus spp.
Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Size (Adult; Length): 11mm to 18mm (0.43" to 0.70")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; yellow; white
Descriptors: banded; stinging; flying; bee

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 11mm (0.4in) and 18mm (0.7in)
Lo: 11mm
Md: 14.5mm
Hi: 18mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Potter 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 Potter Wasp. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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