Nest demolition …

A few years ago we were walking  a forest trail in late autumn just before things started to get cold, when we heard a furious thumping and banging nearby that caused us to think we were about to be attacked by a bear or a lumberjack. Eventually we realised the noise was coming from high above us where we could see a wasp nest like this one but still with a some resident, and angry, insects being furiously attacked by a couple of Blue Jays. The birds were repeatedly flying fast and hard at the nest and striking it with their beaks before retreating to a safe branch a short distance away. Evidently they were after the fat and juicy wasp larvae – we felt the wisest course was not to hang around and observe but to get along the trail as we rather feared that with all that banging the whole nest would shortly come crashing to the ground right at our feet – stripy guardians and all.

Interested? The following is taken from a post at … The key characteristic of paper wasp and yellow jacket nests is that they are made out of plant fibers collected by chewing leaves with their mandibles (mouth parts) and carrying the fiber in their mouth and digestive tract. These plant fibers are laid down with a type of sticky adhesive in their saliva. This saliva is water-proof and makes the nests very strong and water repellent. Each nest starts with a petiole, or stalk, from which the hexagonal comb shaped cells are developed, much like bees. If you look closely at the cells, or for those that encase their nests with paper (aerial yellow jackets) at the outside of the nest, you’ll notice beautiful layering of white, brown, and grey. These are simply layers of plant fibers that are being added by the worker wasps. You can often find wasp nests in the eves of houses, around window overhangs, or under bird boxes. Yellow jacket nests can be found above ground, hanging in trees (aerial yellow jackets), in wall or tree cavities (German yellow jackets), or below ground in excavated chambers. The underground chambers of yellow jacket nests are fascinating because they look exactly like the roundish aerial nests, complete with paper covering, only underground.

Demolition …

We happened across this derelict wasp nest low in a tree quite close to a well-trodden path. The tree was a dense and thorny one and the nest would have been pretty well invisible. At some point towards the end of the season it has clearly been investigated for potential food – quite probably by a Blue Jay (see notes below).

Rather calming whites and greys on a cold day.


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