Monday, January 12, 2015

Wasps are Natural Potters , See what I Found.

I was quite happily unloading the kiln last week.  My usual routine....turning each pot over...tapping for that lovely ringing sound, scanning the surface looking for cracks etc,then I found this.
This pot had been sitting on the shelf since about October last year, I never seemed to have the right amount of room to fit it in.

When I loaded it into the kiln I remember there being some dead spiders underneath on the shelf, but never though too much more about it, just flicked them off the shelf and carried on.

With a little research it appears that a lone female MASON WASP (native) decided that the underneath of this drying pot was a nice spot to build a nest and lay its eggs.
These wasps are loners, they don't have a hoard of worker bees looking after them.  They do it all on their own.

The female stuns/paralyzes spiders and puts them in these mud/clay cells and then lays an egg in each one.  She seals it off and then leaves.  When the egg turns into a larvae it gobbles down the food left for it (spiders) and then exits the cell.

The thing that amazed me was that the clay cells this little wasp made had withstood the bisque firing temperature of 1000degrees Celsius.  Anything that was in them had burnt out,  but the mud/clay walls remained intact, absolutely amazing!

I don't know the chemistry/biology of how the MASON WASP constructs the mud cells, but obviously with it being a red colour after firing it had a lot of iron in it, as does earthenware clay.  

Does it secrete this mud like substance?
Does it go hunting and collect the clay?
Does it stick to its legs like pollen on bees?                        Who knows?

I would have dearly loved to have left it on the underneath of the pot, but there was a high risk that when it goes into the next firing that reaches temperatures of 1270 degrees Celsius + it will melt and stick to the kiln shelf.

Reluctantly, I scrapped it off this afternoon, but left a couple of small bits in one of the corners just to see if it would melt and turn into a "wasp glaze".

I'm in absolute awe of this cleaver little wasp, just incredible!  

Aint Nature Just Great