Land for Wildlife Officer for the Somerset region, Darren McPherson, provided these photos of dried grass seeds sticking out from gaps in a hardwood fence post. What was doing this? Luckily this mystery was answered soon after in the Land for Wildlife Newsletter for the Queensland MurrayDarling Basin, Spring 2015. A landholder out west had also found these strange tufts on her property and had sent them into her Land for Wildlife Officer, who in turn had sent them on to Chris Burwell, Senior Curator of Entomology at the Queensland Museum.
Chris confirmed that they are nests of a wasp (Genus Isodontia) but it is not possible to identify the exact species by their nest alone.
Species of Isodontia wasps nest in pre-existing tubular hollows such as abandoned tunnels made by beetle larvae in wood. Grass stems or leaves are commonly used by these wasps to divide the tubular hollows into a series of cells. Female wasps then lay an egg in each cell. They also place several food items (such as insects) in each cell as food for their emerging larva.
Once the nest has been constructed and filled, the female wasp ‘closes’ the entrance using tufts of grass stems or seed heads, as shown in these pictures.
Isodontia wasps are solitary insects and spend much of their time foraging for food for their larvae and building their nests.
Land for Wildlife Officer with Brisbane City Council, Catherine Madden, found this strange animal deposit on an outdoor timber seat. Unsure as to whether it was a scat or a regurgitation, she sent it off for analysis. The result showed that it was a pellet from a Barn Owl. Owls cannot digest fur, bone and feathers of their prey, so they regurgitate them as pellets.