Since my house was built a number of extensions have been made, and not all by the owner. I have been watching a very busy lady make a few over recent days. Here she is.
She starts by building a mud tunnel. She has several on the go. The next step is to find a nice juicy spider which she paralyses. It looks as though it weighs as much as she does.
Several spiders are deposited in the tunnel. She then lays an egg in there and seals up the entrance. Here’s an adjacent pair of tunnels so recently sealed that the mud is still wet in one.
She goes on adding to this until she has a cluster two deep and four or five down. Then the whole thing is encased in a final render.
When the egg hatches the larva feasts on the paralysed spiders, a gruesome fate for the spider but one that neatly bypasses the need for refrigeration to keep it fresh.
My tentative diagnosis for this creature is Sceliphron laetum, the Mud Dauber Wasp. Apparently they pack a powerful sting but rarely attack. They are found throughout Australia and New Guinea.