Sunday, February 10, 2008

Northern Paper Wasp -- Part I



Northern Paper Wasp (Polistes fuscatus) -- Female


During one of the warmer days last week, I found this Northern Paper Wasp wandering around in my basement shop. Her behavior was sluggish because it's still too cold for her to become active and it's way too soon for her to begin nest building. We will have many more sub-freezing temperatures and no food for her or her developing larvae is available. I hope she was able to return to hibernation.


Typical Lifecycle: Only fertilized females survive the winter by hibernating in piles of wood, crevice in tree back and in piles of vegetation. When the weather warms enough, she will construct a paper nest and lay eggs. All the eggs laid during the early part of the summer will develop into infertile females, workers that will expand the nest and help feed the larvae that develop from eggs laid by the queen. As the colony matures, males and fertile females are produced. The females that successfully breed will hibernate over winter and become the next year's queens while the males, workers and former queen all die.


Food: Paper wasps eat nectar. They also use their stingers to kill insects, usually caterpillars. The caterpillars are chewed into mushy bits and feed to the developing grubs.


Sources and additional information:
BugGuide
Cirrus Images



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10 comments:

imac said...

Great macro and info interesting.



Checkout my Great day of Memories with lots more to come.

Lana Gramlich said...

They also use their stingers to kill me. I miss the days when I didn't have to fear bees, wasps, spiders, hornets, etc. <:(

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I will watch to see if this wasp is around here during summer. I have seen them many times of course but I don't know if they frequent my garden. We have what I call a mud dauber. It makes its home from mud. Interesting creatures.

Tom said...

Marvin, very nice shot of this creature. I'm not sure if this is the same species that hung around my porch growing up here in Ohio, but your picture matches up with my memory very well. They were always getting into our house. Very interesting how this wasp is surviving the winter by hanging out in your basement!

Tom

mon@rch said...

Amazing photo and I great info! When temps are as cold with blowing snow . . these guys get forgotten sometimes! Thanks for the memories of summer!

Mary said...

Marvin, you have a great macro lens. I enjoyed reading about wasps. I rarely think of them until they annoy the heck out of me and disturb the hummingbird feeders. Thanks for the wasp lesson!

Marcel said...

Marvin,
You have a very interesting blog. I have to admit I did not know what Treenware was and had to Google to see waht it is. As a woodworker you would think I would have known that. Thanks for visiting my daily photo blog.

oldmanlincoln said...

There was one or two days straight where we got warm -- almost in the 60s and the flies came out of hibernation in my shop as did some lady bugs.

I like this photograph. I hope she makes it. It is below zero here this morning.

Old Wom Tigley said...

Neat and informative post once again... Similar to one of our Wasps... I think I have a picture of the nest.. it is not muct bigger than a golf ball, others I've seen are as big as a Pumpkin with many chambers.

zhakee said...

Paper wasps are pretty mellow creatures in California. One winter we had an entire colony overwinter in one of the vents on our roof. During the coldest winter months, about once a week a wasp would fly down into our house. After getting bit by one, I sent my husband up onto the roof to get rid of the nest and block all the vents with netting! Usually they don't bite , but the one that got me must have been very hungry after many months of cold. It did not survive to enjoy its meal.