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280 days of Urbpandemonium #41

 photo P1020545_zpswvoi0mct.jpg

At the end of the autumn, the fertile males and females are born. They leave the nest and mate. The males die. The fertilized females seek shelter--under the loose bark of a dead tree perhaps, or in the gap of the exterior of a worn and shoddy building. That's how this would-be yellow jacket queen (Vespula sp. or Dolichovespula sp.) ended up indoors. Disoriented from the long winter and working off of reserves of energy, she headed the wrong way from her hiding place, emerging into a room and heading toward a full-spectrum fluorescent light instead of the light of day.

Her resemblance to the European paper wasp ends at her black antennae (the EPW's are orange) and her stout body. Her workers, should she be successful in establishing a nest will be as small as houseflies, and more protective of their home than the average guard dog. I can knock down a EPW nest with a short stick and no more protection than sunglasses and a baseball cap. A yellow jacket nest might require a full tyvek suit and bee veil to safely tackle.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 16th, 2015 01:54 am (UTC)
Fear vs understanding
My first reaction to seeing this was almost sheer panic (in a fun way). I think if I saw one of those up close I'd lose it! Your explanation of how she lives, and how she's just lost, immediately melted my heart and made me see her as a fellow creature just trying to survive, but screwing up along the way, a story we all share.

Thank you for the insight. She is a magnificent creature and deserves to be understood rather than squished.
May. 16th, 2015 10:44 am (UTC)
Re: Fear vs understanding
Thanks for the comment, that's wonderful!
May. 16th, 2015 01:56 am (UTC)
Oh...and it wasn't lost on me that the reason she got lost is because some human invented artificial light... it seems to me that most things that go wrong with nature have some human behind it... but let's not get me started on that!
May. 16th, 2015 10:19 am (UTC)
so.. there's a little paper nest being built behind our bbq. this makes me think it's being built by a paper wasp of some sort; forgive my ignorance if that's too much of an assumption.

i've watched this process with fascination for the past couple days. problem is, i don't actually know if i need to stop it. are they a hazardous insect? (i ask because i've had two big bouts of cellulitis from yellowjacket stings, though in fact this kind of critter still fails to bother me personally, and i've resolved to just try to disinfect the hell out of similar accidents in future if possible -- last time it wasn't until too late, alas.) is it early enough that, if i knock down the nest (now a little less than an inch across) the builder will be able to build anew somewhere else?

i do have a roommate who *is* bugged (forgive, i beg, forgive) by flying-stripies, and who owns the bbq, so i do probably have to do something. (ignoring similar situations in previous years, for nests attached to the garage, has not resulted in any obvious problems; i don't like to disturb animals unnecessarily.)

any comments or advice humbly solicited.
May. 16th, 2015 10:46 am (UTC)
If the nest is open (bare hexagonal cells) then it's paper wasps. If it has an envelope (is covered with a round paper shell with an entrance hole at the bottom) it's yellow jackets. My policy is destroy all yellow jacket nests in human range, destroy any paper wasp nests that are likely to be accidentally encountered, leave paper wasp nests alone if they are out of reach.
May. 16th, 2015 01:15 pm (UTC)
and yes, if you remove the nest, the nest-builder will probably build a new one elsewhere. I have had them attempt to renest in the same spot, as well.
May. 16th, 2015 01:41 pm (UTC)
thanks! any particular advice, or should i just cut it off and chuck it? (it's open cells, so definitely wasps.)

sadly, it's right behind the bbq, so fairly likely to be encountered by someone who will be dismayed. (which is not the same thing as "accidentally" but i probably should remove it anyway.)
May. 16th, 2015 06:09 pm (UTC)
I seriously just pull them down by hand or knock 'em down with a stick. You could wait by the nest for the queen to arrive, and hit her with insecticide, to remove the chance of her renesting.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


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