I noticed that there was a small Paper Wasp building a nest under the eaves of the roof. I love watching the wasps work, and to be able to see the larval chambers being built and filled with eggs and fat babies… Unfortunately, the queen –who’s working solo right now – picked a spot right over the backyard screen door. Paper wasps are generally docile (unlike Yellow Jackets), but we wouldn’t want any of them to get into the house…
A few day’s later, my sister wanted the wasp’s nest taken down, so she used the rake from the pooper-scooper set to pull it off the eave when the queen was away. I picked up the fallen thing and got some photos of it (and the eggs inside it) before setting it up on the fence where the Scrub Jays could get it if they wanted a snack.
Shortly after the knockdown, the queen returned and looked for the nest. I imagine she had a mouthful of “paper” to add more cells to the structure when she arrived. I felt bad for her, but I understood that the location of her nest was problematic.
According to Sciencing.com, “…To make these nests, the wasps find weathered wood, sourced from old fences or porches, and chew this wood fiber into a paste-like pulp mixed with their saliva. Then, the insects form this pulp into hexagon-shaped paper cells. At first, the workers make only as many cells as they need to hold their eggs. Eventually, however, the paper wasp nest will contain approximately 200 cells. From the outside, these nests appear umbrella-shaped and often hang in protected areas like tree branches, eaves, porches and railings… The nest constructed by a colony of wasps will last for only one year. After a summer spent busily caring for the young wasps and working on the ongoing nest construction, the wasps mate. By late autumn, the paper wasps abandon their nest. Only the female wasps that succeed in fertilizing their eggs will survive the winter…”
So, once the colony vacates the nest, it’s easy to pull the nest down and dispose of it (or put it into a display case). The wasps will not return to it; they build a new one every year.
I hope our queen finds a better place for new nest soon.
- European Paper Wasp, Polistes dominula