A wasp nest is both captivating and terrifying at the same time. While they buzz around warning us with their caution coloured stripes, we can’t help but want to take a closer look. Although they don’t always end up in the most convenient of places, we can all admit it is fascinating how wasp nests are created.
As we’ve discussed in another blog post, wasp nests die out in the colder months, as do most members of the colony. So how do these pests always manage to return in the spring to ruin your backyard barbeque? It all begins with one determined, fertile queen wasp.
Where Do Wasps Go During the Winter?
Most wasps die off in the winter months. Before the nest dies, the original queen lays here last fertilized eggs, which will become the new queens for the following year.
From those fertilized eggs new reproductive females are hatched. Once the colder months come, these females and drone males fly away and the new female is fertilized. She stores the males’ sperm inside her until she is ready to lay eggs, and become a queen herself.
Over the winter, the queen wasp finds a suitable place to hibernate. The queen is the only one of the colony who survives the winter months. She tucks her legs under her body, and finds a safe place to rest for the winter.
What Happens When Wasps Nests Get Rebuilt
Once the spring comes, the queen emerges from her safe, warm place and begins to build a small nest to home her starter offspring of worker females. In the beginning, the nest is made entirely by the new queen, and she tends to the larvae.
In order to construct the unique nest, a starter queen has a few nest necessities.
- A Suitable Support: a roof rafter, window or doorsill, or a branch.
- Wood Fibre: untreated wood from a tree, fence or shed.
- Saliva and Water: the queen’s own saliva, and water.
Unlike bees that construct nests from wax, wasps create their nests with a papery substance (hence why their nests are called paper nests). The papery substance is created from wood fibers the queen scrapes off fences or trees with her hard mandibles. Mandibles are the pincher type appendages near the wasp’s mouth. She will scrape the wood from the fence, and her salvia is strong enough to break down the material and it turns into pulp. The pulp is mixed with wax and make into a paste material used to construct the paper nest that will house her burgeoning colony.
The queen wasps begins by attaching the nest to some secure structure, like a roof rafter or a door frame. From there, she builds a centre stalk and begins to add cells around the centre piece, similar to a bee hive.
Once a half dozen or so cells are build, the queen wasp will begin to lay eggs in them. She will tend to these eggs until they begin to hatch. The size of a nest depends on the available nest material, and the availability of food. If there is a food shortage, the nest may be smaller because the number of wasps is diluted.
When the eggs hatch into larvae, she will leave the nest to forage food to feed the new larva. The queen will continue to build more cells for the hive. Eventually, the larvae grow and become worker females. They will take over the building of the hive and the hunting for food. The colony begins to expand, as does the size of the nest. The queen retires and reproduces full time.
The life span of the queen is one year; when the winter comes, she will lay new eggs that contain future queens, and the cycle continues.
Need to get rid of a wasp hive that has popped up on your property? Contact Magical Pest today to schedule an appointment to remove your bee nest. Alternatively, you can call us at (905) 738-6676 for a free phone consultation.