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Miranda Hodgson

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Watching wasps build a nest

Posted by Miranda Hodgson on 28 Jun 2010 at 09:18 AM

I’ve been watching wasps building a nest. I first noticed them when I saw them buzzing in and out of a hole in the shed by the vegetable garden. Looking inside, I saw the nest being built and reckoned they had already been building it for some days. This is how it looked on the 5th of June. The wasp on the right was busy adding new material, chewed up wood mixed with saliva, and you can see that the mixture is still wet.



Five days later it had grown, with new layers having been added, and there were more wasps to be seen.

 

 

 

By the 25th of June, you could hear the buzzing inside the shed from several feet away and the nest was considerably bigger with a lot more wasps about. I didn’t go in through the door that time, but took the picture through an open window at the side. If you look at the markings on the wooden boards, you can see how much bigger it is now.

 

 

 

I’m not sure what sort of wasps they are, but they are likely to be either the common wasp (Vespula vulgaris) or the German wasp (Vespula germanica). This page says that common wasps are more likely to build their nests from wood which has rotted, whilst German wasps take sound wood, such as from garden furniture or dry logs. We haven’t seen the usual tell-tale marks on any wooden seats or sheds, where you can see that some wood has been scraped off, and there are many log piles in the surrounding area, so I’m wondering if the nest is being built by German wasps taking wood from the nearby log piles, or common wasps taking wood from the same place.

Whatever they are, they are useful creatures at this time of the year. Wasps take caterpillars to feed the larvae in the nest, whilst the adults take nectar from flowers, helping to pollinate them. Later in the year they can be a nuisance, getting into ripening fruit and spoiling it and causing a nuisance to outside diners, but they are actually very effective cleaners. After eating a meal outside, I’ve sat and watched wasps come to the plate and cut away little pieces of meat or fat and carry them away. As long as they don’t try to make off with the whole steak, they’re welcome the left-overs.

Comments

EvaInNL said:

Have you thought of givng schools guided tours of your garden, it's practically a wildlife park!

I'm still a bit wary of wasps after I was attacked quite badly by them on a holiday. Nobody's fault, I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time...

They keep making nests in our building, didn't realise how fast they build, amazing!

on 28 Jun 2010 at 01:59 PM

richardpeeej said:

Fascinating Miranda-the wasp nest looks like a polythene bag. We had a wasp nest in our attic a few year ago and had the council in to get rid of it. We had wasps everywhere in the house, mainly flying around in the windows!

on 28 Jun 2010 at 04:02 PM

pushkin said:

We had a wasp's nest built between the house and the siding once.  We used to hear the buzzing and not realise from where it was coming until the interior wall started to balloon out.  Very scary at the time, had to get professionals in to get rid of it.  I was very worried, not only for us but also for the dogs!  Very interesting post Miranda.

on 29 Jun 2010 at 04:18 PM

Miranda Hodgson said:

Thanks all!

That garden is on a bit of land where the land owner is very keen on encouraging wildlife, Eva. It's a wonderful place and we feel lucky to have found it.

We've had wasp nests in the house a couple of times. One was the size of a pumpkin and, although it wasn't active, one wasp was left, which may have been a queen. It came out after we'd been in the loft and it somehow got into our bed and stung my partner on the bottom. He was not best pleased.

on 01 Jul 2010 at 08:05 AM

yvonne48 said:

sorry... *snigger*

on 04 Jul 2010 at 10:33 PM

Wasp nest on view, built on window, website reports | said:

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on 15 Sep 2014 at 11:42 PM

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on 16 Sep 2014 at 06:03 AM

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on 16 Sep 2014 at 02:15 PM

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on 16 Sep 2014 at 05:15 PM

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on 16 Sep 2014 at 06:07 PM

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on 16 Sep 2014 at 11:36 PM

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on 17 Sep 2014 at 02:43 AM

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on 17 Sep 2014 at 03:12 AM

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on 17 Sep 2014 at 06:13 AM

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on 17 Sep 2014 at 02:14 PM

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on 17 Sep 2014 at 04:00 PM

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on 17 Sep 2014 at 05:14 PM

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on 18 Sep 2014 at 06:14 AM

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on 18 Sep 2014 at 07:14 AM

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on 18 Sep 2014 at 10:03 AM

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on 18 Sep 2014 at 04:13 PM

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on 18 Sep 2014 at 04:13 PM

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on 18 Sep 2014 at 04:14 PM