Monday, December 13, 2010
Huge Paper Wasp Nest
This wasp nest was found on the high ceiling of an old stone home just down the street. Larry Cotton (author of the Whiskey & Wickedness series of local history books we carry in the shop) was renovating his kitchen. When he tore out a built-in clothes cupboard with a false ceiling, there it was. He kindly gave it to Nature Lover’s Bookshop where it serves as a reminder of what incredible architects and builders wasps are!
Our friend and good customer biologist Ted Mosquin tells us that the nest was created by the Paper Wasp. These wasps prefer protected spots in the woods or man-made structure such as an attic or barn – or in this case an old home where the cupboard has an “attic”. The wasps chew wood fibre into sheets of saliva-soaked pulp that dries into the fine fray paper walls of their nests. Starting out small, the nest expands in progressive layers as the colony grows through the summer*. We can only imagine how many wasps must have lived that one season in this nest that is over 22 inches tall and 24 inches wide!! And that would have been for only one season as wasps do not return to the same nest from year to year.
Similarly, wasps are territorial and do not settle where other wasps have a nest – and why we sell Wasps Away - fake wasp nests rather than wasp catchers. The Wasp Away doesn’t kill the wasps, just convinces them to move along somewhere else to take up residence.
*Stokes Guide to Observing Insects available at Nature Lover’s Bookshop for only $12.99, one of over 50 adult insect books (and another 120 insect books for kids!) in stock.