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Paper Wasps: Masters of Nest Construction

young wasp nestIn the photo you can see a “young” wasp nest. This is how wasps begin building their nests, and they construct them everywhere, including on plant stems, shrub branches, and various human structures. They don’t hesitate to use attics, verandas, bathhouses, houses, or sheds. Where do they get the “material”? They scrape off wood fibers. Wood here refers to the ordinary gray-colored fence that is commonly found.

The upper photo shows a mature (medium-sized) wasp nest that is often found in country houses, gardens, and residential buildings. These precise wasp homes disturb people, as they imagine a horde of terrifying insects flying out of the nest. The lower photo shows the remnants after cleaning the attic of a house.

These wasps are also known as paper wasps because they make this “paper” themselves by chewing and moistening wood fibers with their saliva. And the nest looks as if it is made of “paper.”

Different Species of Wasps

Afterward the wasps start “wrapping” the nest. The wasp nest shown in the photo below was about the size of a small apple. Sometimes wasps build nests the size of a basketball or even larger with hundreds/ thousands of wasps inside.

Paper wasps build their nests quite rapidly. Once I discovered a half-sphere-shaped nest above the door (it had five cells with eggs inside) and decided not to disturb it. Three hours later the sphere was completely built. A single wasp accomplished that. Now that’s speed! Take a look at the photos. The half-sphere with a diameter of 3-4 centimeters:

After 3 hours it became a sphere:

The next day the wasp nest looked different again—a second “paper” half-sphere surrounded the wasp cells and within another day it was fully constructed. The second half-sphere around the nest:

Alongside small wasp nests you can find small hornet nests in attics. Although much less frequently.

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