Queen social wasp chewing shed for nesting material!

November 12, 2015

in A selection of my garden wildlife videos

Social wasps are predators not shed demolishers! video

All social wasps feed their young by chewing up soft bodied insects. I watched in amazement one day as such a wasp, decapitated then de-winged a horsefly and flew off with it!  Now horseflies hurt when they bite…..and mosquito bites can be painful afterwards. Wasps, predate them and caterpillars that eat your flowers or veg!

I have seen the same behaviour many times. Many years ago, as a cub (!) I was camping and decided to make a jam butty! (scouse for jam sandwich!!). Some jam fell onto the outdoor wooden table I was using. I watched as a green bottle landed next to the jam and started feeding on it. I saw the wasp fly overhead and then it landed near the jam. I immediately thought it too would feast upon the jam. It did n’t! It jumped onto the back of the green bottle, decapitated, then de-winged it, chewed through the thorax and abdomen, chewed one part of it and fly off, with that part in its jaws! It left the rest on the table. It was n’t long, as I tucked into another jam butty, that a wasp returned for the remaining half of the fly and carted that off too! Probably the same wasp.

Queen wasp chewing my shed!

Queen wasp chewing my shed!

Patrolling flowers

If you watch a wasp from spring to summer, they do patrol flower heads looking for prey items to capture for larval food. Unfortunately this does include honey bees.

Teach children when young!

I have had several wasp nests in my wildlife garden. By taking the time to show my children where the nests had been made and from a distance, watch their flight paths, then pointed out that the wasps were too busy to bother them if they they kept away from the nests and flight paths. At picnics they were taught to remain calm and not to panic, which they never did. Much to the amazement of many panicking arm waving adults! They were never stung!

Will the queen wasp demolish my shed as she chews her way through it?

No she wont! She was just scrapping the outer surface. This large wasp, probably a queen Vespula vulgaris, will use the wood pulp from my shed to make her pulp nest, which will house many other wasp predators! I have watched them chew old, dry cow parsley stems amongst other similar stems. Since the shed was painted, even though it was an environmental friendly paint, I have not seen any wasps chewing the wood anymore.

Social wasp scavenging on a dead blackbird

Social wasp scavenging on a dead blackbird

Beside being insect predators, they also scavenge on dead birds and mammals.

A great article about the benefits of some wasps!

Social wasps  by Dr. Andrew Salsibury RHS entomologist

You may find this PDF by Tom Ings of BWARS useful,  British Social Wasps

Wasps are pollinators and interesting. Help pollinators join Buzz Club

For more information about solitary wasps see BWARS

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

carol November 13, 2015 at 8:52 pm

I’ve seen wasps land on the garden table and fly off with a morsel of burger or sausage! Makes a summer barbecue very interesting…


nurturingnature November 15, 2015 at 8:05 pm

Bbq interesting but a little less burger to share 🙂 they are more interested in the burger than the people attending thx for sharing G


Kit Welchman November 15, 2015 at 9:36 am

Thanks for interesting info re wasps and graphic details. Wasps seemed to take over our nearby meadow ground for October. I watched one active nest which has only just gone dead. I saw an amazing battle between a wasp and a large yellow bodied spider. The wasp attacked the spider in the centre of her web, but didn’t seem to sting. The spider fought back with legs. This happened about fives times until at last the spider retreated to the side of the web. The prize for the wasp was a quite large insect (grasshopper?) trussed up in the top of the web, which it triumphantly gorged itself on while the spider watched.


nurturingnature November 15, 2015 at 8:04 pm

That sounds a real battle and would loved to have filmed it! Nature is so fascinating if only we spent a little time to watch and learn. Thanks for sharing. G


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