Paper houses II

These ladies just won’t leave me alone this summer. We had to remove over 10 wasps nests from our porch recently. So they get another post.

The way that paper wasps nest is that one female (called the foundress) creates the original small nest, and she lays female eggs. These eggs develop with care from the foundress. Care includes keeping the eggs humidified by adding droplets of water, feeding the larva once they hatch, and guarding the nest from ants and other attackers. This allows the young wasps to develop in peace. I had some pictures of the eggs in my last post about this guys. But this time I found all stages of development.

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The eggs hatch. The first look like small squishy balls.


And, as you can see above, the eggs become squishy caterpillar like things with faces. About a week before they emerge, the female caps the capsule. At this point the larvae don’t get any more food. They are undergoing metamorphosis into adult females.


They stay in the nest capsules until they are ready to emerge as adults. Then they chew their way out. The picture below shows the first hole made by their jaws.


Once the adults they help tend the nest. They are not allowed to lay eggs, only the foundress does that. But they assist her in caring for the brood, keeping the nest clean, and defending the nest.

And now a quick note about paper wasps nesting near your house. The wasps are not usually aggressive and will mostly not bother you.  However, their sting is very painful. My philosophy is that if the nest is in a high traffic area of the yard, I will remove it (like right above the lounge chairs on the porch or on the back gate handle) but otherwise I let them be. They do eat caterpillars and pollinate some flowers so they can have a positive impact.




About keviclaire

I recently graduated from the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley. My research interests are focused on biological control and how to increase it's use in agriculture and home gardens. I am also an avid gardener and insect photographer. I'm using this blog as a place to share those interests!

2 responses to “Paper houses II”

  1. alanamace says :

    I want to like them. I really do. But OUCH!


  2. luizamogosanu says :

    Beautiful images!


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