Perhaps it is best to write this posting in some sort of chronological order, so we will start with the outset of the year.
As the spring continues and the Queen finds a suitable place, she will begin to make the nest by chewing material (particularly wood) and saliva to make a waxy substance. We have touched on this in previous articles. The nest continues to be constructed and the queen will then start to lay eggs. Once these have hatched (called larvae at this point) they are feed a protein rich diet which rapidly makes them mature. Once matured these become adult worker wasps. All off these are female. Some adult female wasps can lay eggs, but these only produce drone male wasps. The adult worker wasps then continue to build the nest and gather food, which allows the queen to focus on nest preservation and continuing to lay eggs.
As the summer progresses the nest will reach full capacity and the Queen will lay ‘special’ new Queen eggs and drone eggs. Many nests produce hundreds of these. Once these special eggs have hatched, the new Queens and drones will fly off to mate. After mating the male drone wasps die, while the new queens find a new hiding place in an attempt to hibernate and survive over the coming winter.
As early autumn approaches many of us are aware of the apparent increase in nuisance of wasp behaviour. Once all the young have been created there is no sugary substance to in turn feed the adults. This is when wasps leave the nest in search of sugary substances, and are liable to interfere with humans drinking or eating. This is also when wasps can be at their most aggressive.
As the days gets shorter, colder and food sources continue to dwindle, the old queens and all the worker wasps will die, so only the new queens remain to start the cycle again the following year. As mentioned above, wasps’ nests can survive longer on some occasions.
We know that weather patterns and climate affect the outdoors, and as these change are due to suspected global warming, it is interesting to see how differences in the usual cycle can become evident. This will be one to watch over the coming years both in relation to wasps and nature generally.
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