Friday, 16 September 2011

Interesting door furniture

The building of a wasps nest in the corner of our front door has led us to look into the habits of these pesky creatures. At the most basic level wasps are divided into two categories: solitary and social. The fact that we have a nest full of active wasps leads us to suspect these are of the social variety... Nothing gets past us!

The nests of some social wasps are first constructed by the queen and reach about the size of a walnut before sterile female workers take over construction. The queen initially starts the nest by making a single layer or canopy and working outwards until she reaches the edges of the cavity. Beneath the canopy she constructs a stalk to which she can attach several cells; these cells are where the first eggs will be laid. The queen then continues to work outwards to the edges of the cavity after which she adds another tier. This process is repeated, each time adding a new tier until eventually enough female workers have been born and matured to take over construction of the nest leaving the queen to focus on reproduction. We suspect this is the stage our nest has reached.

The question is what to do with them? We've tried removing a previous nest but in no time at all another had been constructed. You have to admire their resilience and determination.

Worryingly social wasp colonies often have populations of between three and ten thousand female workers at maturity which is not exactly what you want on your front door.... unless, of course, you don't like visitors!


Diane said...

Not sure if this is any help, guess as you now so much now about them you have read all the ins and outs of how to remove them!!

Jean said...

Wasps are nasty creatures, inflicting pain indiscriminately, for no good reason.
I have just dealt with a wasp nest in my garden by using a powder that you puff into the nest to kill them. It did the trick with one puff even though it's a big nest.
Good riddance!

Tim said...

These are not your normal wasps and do not need to be removed... this is as large as this nest gets! They are a semi-social hunting wasp Polistes gallicus or similar... they are called "paper wasps". They build a 'communal' nest. Each cell is filled with caterpillar [paralyzed] upon which the egg is laid. Each wasp is a female and adds as many cells to the nest as she has eggs. I've handled these without getting stung... The season is almost over and most will die in hibernation. There are a lot more here than normal... I would suspect that the wasps here are newly hatched.

And Jean, ordinary wasps are not "nasty creatures", they are the gardeners friend! They eat as many aphids as a ladybird larva does in a day... and need to feed much longer.