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Paper Wasp Queens Emerging From Hibernation

4-8-14 paper wasp2  152Paper wasps have annual colonies – only the young, fertilized queens overwinter, with the old queen, female workers and the males all perishing in the fall. The queens seek shelter behind tree bark, or in rotting logs or stumps, and emerge in the spring when temperatures rise and day length is increasing. Last year’s nest is not re-used – the queen mixes wood and plant fiber with her saliva, creating several waterproof paper cells into each of which she lays an egg — the start of her future labor force. Due to the lack of wildflowers (and therefore nectar) this early in the spring, queens rely on the sap from broken tree branches, as well as the sap found in drilled Yellow-bellied Sapsucker wells, for sustenance.

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5 responses

  1. Sonya Wulff

    So interesting! Does the queen make the whole nest…or just start it? Thanks! ~ Sonya

    April 8, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    • The queen just starts the nest, building a few cells — as soon as her eggs mature, the workers take over!

      April 8, 2014 at 2:46 pm

  2. Amazing life cycle. It’s incredible to think the species survival rests on a solitary few from which the population is renewed annually, exponentially. True of most insects, but your post birthed the realization in my mind.

    April 8, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    • Yes, that’s exactly how I feel, Eliza. And this queen was barely moving on the surface of the snow — so vulnerable. Incredible, indeed!

      April 8, 2014 at 3:09 pm

  3. Leslie Goldman

    I have recently found a lot of wasps in my house. Are the queens? what should i do with them?

    April 18, 2014 at 7:07 pm

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