There were lots of insects enjoying Cathy’s mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum) today, including this potter wasp. I’ve narrowed it down to the genus Euodynerus of which there are 19 local species. Beyond that, I need better pictures and different views.
There is a good key to the genus here: http://www.biology.ualberta.ca/bsc/ejournal/bmc_05/key_euodynerus.html. I also found a good Hymenoptera glossary here: http://www.diapriid.org/projects/32/public/ontology/.
Eumenes fraternus (Potter Wasp)
This potter wasp (Eumenes fraternus) is one of my favorite wasps (doesn’t everyone have favorite wasps?). There’s fairly common around here. While they are particularly drawn to the mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum), they are also found regularly on the black-eyed Susans (Rudbekia) and painter’s palette (a.k.a. knotweed, Persicaria virginiana). I think it’s their clean lines that I like. They’re difficult to photograph well and I’m not really happy with this photo, although it’s the best I was able to get. They don’t really stop moving and unless the light is very strong, it’s hard to get both adequate depth of field and a short enough exposure to stop their motion.