We were sitting on the deck this lunch time enjoying a beer and a sandwich when a wasp-like creature started investigating the nooks and crannies of the chair next to which I was seated. It was clearly intent on looking for just the right sized hole and was hard to distract.
On closer examination, it was noted that it was carrying a green caterpillar which it wanted to stuff into the hole – were it able to find a suitable one. The caterpillar is destined to become food for the next generation. Once ensconced in its hole lots of eggs will be laid and then munch-munch-munch.
This was kept up for a good quarter hour allowing time to take some pictures and to get out the books. I thought that I had it narrowed down to a member of the Family Crabronidae of which there are some 9000 species worldwide and in North America a mere 1225 so the chances of getting this chap down to species level is remote, but I have friends who do insects for a living and turned to them to help.
Chris got there first – he suggests, and I concur now I have been pointed in the right direction, that it is a (superficially similar) potter or mason wasp (family Vespidae, subfamily Eumeninae) and probably of the genus Ancistrocerus with a high likelihood of being Ancistrocerus antilope about which more can be learned at this link – http://www.biology.ualberta.ca/bsc/ejournal/bmc_05/04a_antilope.html
Other friends will probably think that this need to name creatures is a sad and incurable thing, but an unnamed creature is not a real creature to me – without a name it might as well be a lump of rock.
Here is a small gallery of images – click on any one to enlarge it.