Aderyn Pest Control

A single fertilized female or 'queen' begins each colony in the spring. Having mated the previous autumn she emerges from her winter hiding place and seeks a suitable site or nest. This is usually in April, depending upon the weather conditions.

 

The queen scrapes shavings of wood from fence posts, dead trees etc. and chews them to make 'wasp paper'. The wood fragments bound together with adhesive saliva form a thin but strong paper when dry. The female begins her nest with a few hexagonal cells suspended at the end of a small stalk or pedestal attached to a ceiling or surface. Over this is an umbrella-like cover.

The queen lays her eggs, one in each of these cells. They hatch in 3-5 days. When the larvae emerges she feeds them with fragments of insects she has captured. The life cycle from egg to adult takes between 3 and 4 weeks.

The next generation emerges as sterile workers who take over the work of nest building and food gathering. New cells are formed in a horizontal layer of "comb". When this has reached a certain size a similar layer is constructed, suspended from the preceding layer by short columns of stalks. Six or seven "combs" may be formed and covered by an envelope of paper.

The shape of the nests varies and each cell may be used two or three times. An average nest may produce 25,000 - 30,000 wasps during the season.

In the summer months special large cells are constructed, containing the larvae destined to become "queens". At the end of the summer the "queen" lays unfertilized eggs. Some workers also reproduce without fertilization. These unfertilized eggs all develop into males and mate with the young "queens". Fertilized young "queens" fly away to find a resting-place to hibernate. The rest of the colony dies out in autumn. The nest is never re-used the next year.

 

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British Pest Control Association member