Wasps: Common Wasp Vespa Vulgaris
Our Irish Common Wasp.
Not exactly most people's favourite little critter.
Would be about as popular as the Common Rat and Housefly, and thats not much of an PR coup !
It is In need of a serious image makeover.... not an easy task with a insect that will buzz around you on a warm late summer's day, when you're trying to munch into that choc ice or enjoy a cold glass of 7 up in the Back garden !
Though they do, like all animals and insects do perform an important role in maintaining a balance in our delicate ecosystem. The newly emerged Queen wasp in Spring will seek out a warm dry place to start her new nest. An old disused insect burrow, a warm compost heap or perhaps your lovely cosey nice dry and (relatively) warm shed !.
There she will construct a delicate and beautiful paper type nest formed from shredded wood she will gather using her powerful jaws. This mixed with saliva will form the structure of the nest.
Here she will lay her first eggs that will hatch into larvae that she will tend to hunting for food which she will bring back and forth to the nest to feed these first , soon to be, workers. These will be the first of her infertile female workers that will take over the duties of foraging for food, tending to newly hatched larvae and general hive duties. She will retire from foraging for food and concentrate on laying of eggs to build a strong workforce.
The workers will feed a protein rich diet to the young which will consist of insects collected from Hedgerows and Gardens such as caterpillars, spiders, aphids etc.
The workers will subdue these with their powerful sting, chop them up into smaller pieces and shred them mixing with saliva to form a paste suitable to feed to the growing larvae. In turn the larvae will secrete a sugary substance the adult wasps will consume readily, this is believed to maintain the strong bond and unity within the colony.
Towards the end of the Summer the Queen will stop laying eggs and the abundant summer supply of prey will diminish and eventually disapear as the autumn chill sets in. The adult workers will effectively become redundant , as in out of a job ! . As there food supply has diminished., there are no longer young larvae to feed and hence no sugary reward to be harvested from the larvae. Things take a turn for the worse, for us and them !
Their behavior now changes. They will then turn from having been focused on the duties of the hive and feeding the young larvae to trying to find a substitute for this sugary substance that the larvae had secreted all summer long.
This is where the problem starts !. Now you're sweet cold drink or anything sweet on a summer's day becomes the target for the "Out of Work" and "Cranky" wasp !.
They will eventually die off with the coming of the first frosts from a combination of lack of food and the cold.