Wasps in a nest

The lifecycle of a wasp nest in Bracknell 

As we move slowly and surely into summer (let’s forget about this Spring) the two insects that most people are afraid of will soon make their presence known; wasps and hornets, most people try to avoid these as much as possible and who can blame them? 

The start of the cycle 

The wasp year starts when the Queen emerges from her hibernation period, she will have spent the winter curled up somewhere dry with a stable temperature such as a loft or inside a garden shed and when she comes out a new cycle of life starts. 
 
The Queen was fertilisied around the end of last summer by either one or any number of male wasps, this is important to the colony and will dominate how it functions later but for now her main concern is to start a new colony of her own.  
 
She begins nest building by creating a thick cylindrical column called a petiole that the nest will be suspended under, a single cell is created at the base of the stem and she then adds another six cells around the outside of that, creating the characteristic hexagonal shape. The entire structure is encased is a paper thin ‘lantern’ that protects and stabilises the temperatures within. 
 
Wasp nests are made from wood pulp: if you look at any weathered wooden structure such as fence panels or garden furniture you will notice thin ribbons of fresh wood showing through the older weather-stained surface; this is through the action of wasps as they strip away the old surface. 
Queen wasp building her nest

Spring into summer 

Throughout the spring and even into early summer, the Queen wasp is busy building her nest, laying eggs, feeding herself and then feeding her brood, eventually the nest that she has worked so hard to construct becomes her prison as she will never leave its confines again. 
 
The individual brood cells for the worker wasps are only ever used once, the Queen builds outer rings around the initial seven cells and at certain stages, additional petioles will be added to support more layers of cells which are added on. This process goes on being repeated, and the nest will expand from the size of a ping pong ball to that of a beach ball throughout the summer months, this growth now depends on the ability of the workers to catch insects and bring in more wood pulp. 
 
Workers are all females, they are all daughters of the Queen and may or may not be half-sisters, if the Queen mated with more than one male wasp last autumn, then there is a difference in their individual DNA. Problems can arise in situations like this because the workers will lay unfertilised eggs that hatch out as males, if the workers are all true sisters and share identical DNA then there will harmony inside the colony. 
Wasp nest

War and Peace? 

Some wasp colonies have more resemblance to the Game of Thrones than you’d think, eggs and larvae will be attacked by marauding workers as they do not recognise the relationship between themselves and their newfound prey.  
 
To combat this, some workers will lay their eggs and stay inside the nest to protect ‘their’ offspring. Colony cohesion breaks down and the result is a small. under performing nest, in turn this gives rise to the ‘super wasp nest’ that occasionally makes the newspapers, there is no reason why a true, proper functioning wasp colony shouldn’t reach numbers in the high thousands when harmony flourishes inside. 
Wasp up close

Colony first! 

The outer paper sheath will be improved and gradually thicken, it will have a network of tunnels running through it and these will be used to help regulate the temperature inside the nest. If we experience a cold spell, the workers will close up the entrances and when we are in a heat wave they will stand in front of the opening using their wings to fan air around, keeping the nest cool – that’s the buzzing noise you can hear from the nest. 
 
When you see wasps flying around your garden, what you are witnessing is, a highly synchronised operation where an entire colony made up out of thousands of individuals all dedicate their own life span to one role – the good of the colony. 
The role of the workers is to see the colony produce as many future Queens as possible, hunting, building and protecting are all secondary roles to this one, these workers will all die off in the autumn with only the new Queens to continue into the coming year. 
 
More information about insect colonies and Eusociality can be found at the eLife website: click on the button below to find out more. 
Inside of a wasp nest

From summer until winter 

The present Monarch who is by now imprisoned somewhere deep inside the nest, releases pheromones to control the workers and at some point, in the late summer she will produce the last of her eggs before she dies. When this happens either the absence of her pheromone or one that was released prior to her death causes the workers to force feed the remaining larvae, this action along with the increased intake of protein, causes a change in the larvae; instead of pupating into workers they are destined to become future Queens. 
 
Some wasp species finish much earlier in the year than others, it is not unusual to find the nests of Saxon wasps in complete disorder in late August as all the new Queens have hatched out and they leave the nest to go off in search of their food. The workers have no controlling pheromones and without instruction, they do very little, apart from hang around the area where the nest was, we could be talking about several hundred into the low thousands of wasps crawling over every surface in a garden, freaky! 
 
For those species that continue on for as long as possible, and we’ve attended callouts for wasps in December, the new Queens will stay inside their nest and hibernate there, emerging in the spring. Its always advisable to have a treatment done for a wasp nest inside the house as we get a lot of calls for treatments when people encounter these Queens making their way down into the property when the finally wake up in the spring. 
 
Encountering large, dozy wasps day after day in the bathroom is not most peoples ideal way of starting the day and this is what you may get if you have left a wasp nest dormant in the loft of your house. 
Wasps on their nest

 Wasp nest removal throughout Bracknell from a local company 

If you do discover a wasp nest in Bracknell, do not be tempted to deal with it yourself and whaterver you do, definitely do not seal up the opening hoping that you’ll trap them inside and starve them out; it’s very easy for a wasp to gnaw through plasterboard, and we have seen wasps nest grow through ceilings causing chaos inside the house. Here at Bracknell Pest Control we aim to have a technician out to you within 24 hours of your call and we will remove the wasp nest as part of our treatment leaving you completely wasp free. 
Tagged as: Wasps and Hornets
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