Larval Friday: Dirt Dauber
I believe that this is a dirt dauber or mud dauber wasp even though I haven't ever seen one build a nest quite like this. For one thing it was in very precarious position, attached to an electrical cord hanging from the roof of my house, and is also a nice round single cell. I first saw this when it was almost complete. It had just a small hole remaining open and I should have stuck around to get a look at the wasp working on it but I didn't. I came back later and saw the completed project and began to wander what was going on in there. I opened the nest and was going to try to cover it and just take serial photos, but the nest came off in my hand so I took it in and put it in a container where the rest of the photos are taken. If you go to the photogallery and see the whole series, you will see that it didn't make it through the entire metaphorphosis alive, but it did come near assuming its final form. It took less than 12 hours from when I opened the nest and took the first picture for the larva to devour the poor caterpillar. I believe it died sometime shortly after it came out of its nest. The total time from the first to last picture was about 6 days. I was completely suprised when I saw that the wasp had molted in that condition despite being dead for a couple of days.
Don't forget to check out the centinnial edition of Modulator's Friday Ark!
Also check out this month's best invertebrate posts at the 12th Circus of the Spineless.
Update 10/14/06: Thanks to Chaindropz at Ring Drops for identifying this as a potter wasp.