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potter wasp and caterpillar

All-natural preservative; no refrigeration required.

What does the phrase ‘all-natural preservative’ conjure up? Salt perhaps, or maybe vinegar? To some, the phrase might even sound oxymoronic. But, it’s, well, a natural in the insect world, especially when it comes to wasps.

No need for a Maytag

potter wasp and nest

Potter wasp and nest [CREDIT: W. Holly]

In the world of the potter wasp (Eumenes fraternus) and many other predatory arthropods, injecting their prey with venom acts as an all-natural preservative to keep the food supply for their young fresh for several days… no refrigeration required!

“We’re insects, and we’re actually here to help!”

paralyzed caterpillars inside potter wasp nest

Inside of potter wasp nest, with paralyzed caterpillars. [CREDIT: W. Holley]

What might seem like another oxymoron is that there are many ‘friendly’ neighborhood wasps; their goal is to eat caterpillars and other pesky insects that feed on ornamental and food plants. Don’t get too close however, as they are very territorial and won’t abandon their young without a fight.

Bottom line

potter wasp's paralyzed caterpillars

Potter wasp’s paralyzed caterpillars. [CREDIT: W. Holley]

If predatory wasps are in an area which infrequently encounters human traffic, it might not be a bad idea to leave them be – they could just be doing your plants and your wallet a favor!

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