A Mason’s Lodge in Kabini
The cult of the Freemasons and the rituals of the Masonic lodges may remain an eternal mystery to those of us who’re on the outside. But in the lush environs of Kabini, there exists another esoteric group of masons that creates lodges whose construct is predicated to the creation of life, and whose artistry has inspired the design grammar of indigenous communities. Welcome to the world of the Potter Wasps, an eclectic group of caterpillar-consuming wasps that builds pot-shaped mud lodges for its young. Also known as Mason Wasps, these finicky designers aren’t satisfied with just any material. When a mason decides to build, she scouts around diligently for the right texture, and on locating the ideal ‘quarry’, mines the earth that’s then mixed with her own saliva, before building on a site far removed from her mother-lode. Once she’s built the lodge, she lays a single egg inside, and then provisions the nest with tiny caterpillars which she paralyzes, before sealing the pot and moving on to the next one. The net result is a beautiful, jug-shaped mud lodge with a narrow neck strung out at intervals like so many pieces of miniature pottery. There’s a designer imprint to boot, as each wasp leaves her own distinctive signature, with some building only slanted pots and others preferring them straight. However what goes on within this mason’s lodge doesn’t stay within the lodge. In a few weeks, the larva will emerge from the egg and greedily gobble up all the food left by mom, before spinning a warm cocoon where it’ll lie all snug and comfy. When the time and temperature are right, it will break out of the lodge and take up its rightful place as the next Mason of Kabini.
We at Orange County have loved sharing this story with you, and shall bring you one every fortnight, as part of our Responsible Tourism Initiatives to raise awareness about the nature and culture of the environments we operate in.