Thursday, August 12, 2010
You've got male
Each spring the young female paper wasp will begin nest building in anticipation of laying eggs. She would have been bred the previous fall by males of her own kind. As the eggs hatch, and the larvae grow, then pupate, they will become the adults that take over the care of the nest. They will seek food in the form of miscellaneous insects that they masticate and feed to the young larvae. The nest will grow as more offspring are created. Some nests may house 20 or more individuals.
Sometime in mid to late summer the queen wasp will lay eggs that are destined to become male paper wasps. It is these males that have shown up in my back yard. I've kept my eye on one particular nest under the top lid of our propane tank. Last night the males were venturing out and testing their wings, taking short flights around the propane tank and back. It was kind of funny to watch, you could almost sense the excitement in the air as they flew and dived and landed (sometimes none too gracefully) back at the entrance to the lid of the propane tank. This nest is quite large with at least 20 wasps all clinging to it. Soon the males will seek fertile females to mate with.
When the first hard frost hits the wasps will begin dying, and by the middle of October or first of November they will be gone...the only ones that will remain behind are the bred females. They will hide themselves away in leaf litter, under the bark of trees or some other secure spot to wait out winters fury. They will return with the first warm days of spring to begin the cycle all over again. The presence of these males only indicates to me that winter is not far off, which is so hard to imagine with temperatures topping out at 99 degrees today. Winter almost....ALMOST sounds good right now.