Paper Houses – Wasp Magic
Wasps, like spiders, divide people. They can cause pandemonium or can be admired.
As part of my case for admiring, consider their house building skills and team work. The picture above is of a partly built nest just discovered under our soffit, attached to TV cables. These are Norwegian Wasps, one of 6 species of social (meaning they are not solitary, rather than that they will have a chat with us!) wasps in Ireland.
These nests are built, bit by intricate bit, by the wasps chewing wood into a pulp and pasting it into place at the nest.
The Tree Wasp above was found in early June nibbling away at the wood of our already weathered, garden shed.
The nest is started by the Queen and extended by the worker wasps produced. The inner construction is a honeycomb shape with hexaganol cells where the eggs are laid and the wasp larvae grow.
The picture above from the Galapagos Islands shows the early cells with eggs of Yellow Paper Wasps. And below is a similar example from Spain, showing the stem (Petiole) stuck to the leaf by the Queen.
Another nest in construction, this time by Paper Wasps (Polistes gallicus), near Montepulciano in Tuscany.
Outside these cells, a number of cover lobes are constructed so that the nest ends up in a roughly round shape with an entrace hole near the bottom.
Common and German Wasps are said to be more common. They usually build their larger nests underground.
It can be difficult to identify different wasp species, especially if their faces are buried in flowers or you are concentrating more on getting out of the way! However each species has distinctive black marks on the back and face. This is a bit complicated by variations amongst Queens,Workers and Males.
These paper houses can be found all over the world, varying in shape size and rigidity. The wasps are also quite adaptable. A few years ago Tree wasps adopted a Tit Nest Box to host their nest.
Surely one of the wonders of the world! 🙂