Paper Wasp Wood Harvest – Photo of the Week

Paper Wasp Paper Making
Every year the Paper Wasps visit my close line, they come to mine the raw material for their nests. 

Paper Wasps pretty much live anywhere they have a dry place to make their nests.  To many people’s dismay, it is often under the eaves of their houses and garages.  They make these nests by harvesting thin strips of weathered wood.  I have often seen them do this on unpainted birdhouses and nearly every year, the clothespins on my clothesline.  If you look at the photo above you can see where this wasp, or one of her sisters, has already stripped off the wood.  Although they harvest the wood from my clothespins, it will probably take them a century to chew them up, and the weather will have long since destroyed them before that happens.   After that, they mash up the wood with saliva in their mandibles and form little papery chambers where they will lay their eggs and raise their larva.  Paper wasps are beneficial because they eat many other insects, especially caterpillars.

I like to leave them alone and have yet to be bothered by the ones that choose to make nests on my house, although many would be uncomfortable with wasps living above their doorway.  The other reason to leave wasp nests alone, is if you spray insecticide at a nest, you are a threat, and more likely to get stung than if you just leave them alone. Paper Wasps are not Yellow-Jackets, and while they can and do sting they are not as aggressive as their hornet cousins. I did have a Bald-face Hornet take up residence under my window, and I disposed of that nest while only the huge queen was in residence.  If I hadn’t, a nest with hundreds of very large and highly aggressive hornets may have formed.

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