While wasps might not make honey, they are still an incredibly precious and valuable resource in keeping the ecosystem balanced. In fact, despite feeling like a nuisance at times, if wasps didn’t create nests and colonies each year, many pests and insects would overtake our lives.
So, exactly how do they make their nests? Are they built at a particular time each year? And what are wasp nests made of? We answer these questions and more below. Read on to find out everything you need to know about wasp nests.
What Are Wasp Nests Made Of?
Surprising as it may sound, wasps make their nests using papier-mâché. Okay, so it's not technically the kind you play with at school, but it’s essentially the same thing. Let’s just say it’s more organic. Rather than scrap paper from around your home or classroom, wasps use wood from nearby sources such as trees or foliage. And rather than using water and glue to bind it, they use their saliva.
Given a wasp’s very short lifespan, a lot of its time is spent building its nests (under the guidance of the Queen), and its saliva is designed especially for this purpose.
How Do Wasps Build Their Nests?
Much like any other animal, wasps need a place to live. Likewise, much like many other animals, they build their own homes. Wasps are specially designed to be able to make their nests due to the solid binding powers of their saliva. So, how exactly do they do it?
It all starts with the Queen - after all, until the Queen lays her eggs, no worker wasps are available. She will first find a suitable location and then start building the nest's core. To do that, she finds a wood source, such as a tree, and then chews the bark, mixing it with her saliva to form a papier-mâché type paste. Unlike a school project, she then uses this to build the core of the nest and lays her eggs there.
Once the eggs have hatched, they will become worker wasps and help to grow the nest to accommodate the whole colony.
How Long Do Wasps Take To Build a Nest?
Technically, a wasp nest is continuously in construction to accommodate the new larvae that are born and growing into working members of the colony. With that in mind, you could argue that the nest is being built from its conception around April time all the way to its death around September or October.
That being said, the construction of the main bulk of the nest is done in less time than that. You can consider the rest of the building to be more akin to home extensions.
Generally, the main nest will be built within a couple of months from April, when the Queen makes the core, to around the beginning of June, when the workers head out for food.
Where Do Wasps Usually Build Their Nests?
The main criteria for where a Queen wasp will choose to build her nest is that it must provide shelter but with easy access to the outside world. What are some common places? You’ll often find wasp nests in wall cavities, tree trunks, sheds, bird boxes, under eaves, or in lofts.
If you suspect you have a nest on your property, those are the best places to look. Remember that you’ll also be able to find out where the nest is simply by following them.
Thankfully, the locations Queens choose mean they are usually relatively accessible if needing to get rid of it.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the First Sign of a Wasp Nest?
The first sign of a wasp nest is a significant amount of buzzing. You may also notice swarms of other insects and nest-like structures. If you start to notice buzzing, try to locate where it's coming from, as that will help to uncover the nest. From here, you can make a plan to remove it, if required.
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While wasps are a valuable and significant member of the animal kingdom and do important work in upkeeping the ecosystem, they can also cause many problems if you find a nest on your property and leave it.