Spring has finally sprung and the weather is warming up nicely but I haven’t spotted a wasp yet whichÂ begs the question – where do wasps go in winter? Are they still in their nests, keeping warm and cosy like honey bees in a hive or have they migrated south with birds in search of food, sunshine, sandy beaches and sticky, sweet cocktails? And even more importantly, when will the waspsÂ be back?
What do wasps do in Spring?
From now onwards you may spot larger than normal wasps. These areÂ queen waspsÂ emerging from theirÂ overwintering place which could be as diverse asÂ the warm folds of a curtain, aÂ cosy crevice in a shed or a loft. The queen wasps will be on the scoutÂ for a newÂ place to build a nest andÂ lay their eggs. You’ll certainly know it’s a queen if it stings you because only the female wasps have the distinctive stinger, which they can use repeatedly unlike bees.
At the end ofÂ the summerÂ season, worker wasps return to the nest andÂ die. Only the queen survives. The queen will never use the old nest (probably because it’s full of dead wasps) andÂ buildÂ a new wasp nest, creating a single cell at the end of a petiole. Six more cells are then added to create the hexagonal shape.
The queen then lays eggs which grows into small larva.Â The larvae grows to full size then it pupates into an adult worker wasps. The lifecycle from egg to fully grown insectÂ is approximatelyÂ three weeks.
What’s inside a Wasp’s Nest?
The worker wasps will continue to build and maintain the nest, forageÂ for food andÂ feed the larvae. Until June the nests will normally be golf ball sized but may be larger with warm weather. From late June the wasp nest will have grown considerably and wasps can normally be spotted on the outside carrying our repair and maintainance work. Take a look at this amazing footage by worldofwaspsÂ showing a queen hornet and workers tending toÂ the nest.
There are no hard and fast rules with nature, but help us to map out Britain’s wasp infestations by plotting your wasp sighting at http://www.ukwaspwatch.co.uk/