Saturday, 7 May 2011

New neighbours

A couple of days ago I spotted the beginnings of a wasp nest hanging from my eaves. There was an inverted "bottle-kiln" shaped covering with the entrance at the bottom. Construction of a larger outer skin had started.

I could guess the species from the shape but couldn't confirm it until today when I had a bit of time to watch. By now the outer skin was complete and work on re-shaping the entrance into a flared funnel was underway.

The queen walked backwards dribbling more liquid paper and shaping it with her mandibles. Round and around she went, first one one, then the other, and within a few minutes a few mm of soggy paper tubing had been constructed. You can see the damp ring on these two photos.

I'm guessing this flared entrance will next be connected to the new covering, but I'll have to wait and see. I wonder what happens to the old surface which is now inside. Is it removed and perhaps recycled into the next outer layer? Somewhere inside are cells in which the first-born will be developing. It's amazing what a single insect without any plans to work from can achieve!

The queen hasn't been bothered at all by me hanging out of the spare bedroom window photographing her. The lighting is terrible - shadowy eaves, bright sky. Still trying to discover the optimum settings.

I had a wasps nest inside the roof on the other side of the house a few years ago which proved to be no problem. I hope this one will be as benign...

The species? Dolichovespula media.

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