Thursday, September 17, 2015

All you need to know about my 'waspy' new neighbors

Paper wasp nest hidden away in magnolia in our yard.
The lovely Miss Wendy was getting the mail earlier this week when she glanced up at a nearby tree and spotted something a bit odd and a little unsettling.

What she saw looked like a wrinkled basketball, aged and whitish and attached to a limb about 15 feet off the ground.

On closer inspection, it appeared that the object was either some sort of exotic fruit that was withering on the vine or, more likely, a mini-condo for an entire generation of winged critters!

When a couple of flitting thingies poked their noggins out of the complex it became pretty clear that Wendy and I were now neighbors with a fully-developed nest filled with fully-developed wasps.

At first glance the insects seemed to be 'paper wasps', members of the vespid subfamily polistinae that also includes hornets and yellowjackets. Here's the good news.

Paper wasps are the least aggressive of this group of pests. The bit of research I've managed since spotting their home suggests the insects have a live-and-let-live attitude; don't bother us and we won't bother you.

Apparently, that seems to be the case. Nests are usually created in early spring, a starter home of sorts that expands as the waspy population grows. By early summer what started off as just a queen and a few eggs can easily grow into a bustling hive of several thousand.

The flying hordes, however, have yet to cause any problems. If they've been partying this summer, they've kept the music turned down Low. And here's some more good news.

Summer is already burning itself out and with the first chill of fall our waspy neighbors will begin dying off. By Halloween there's a chance the nest will be haunted and even a better chance it will be empty. Only the queen will survive Mother Nature turning down the thermostat and Google tells me she'll be looking for greener pastures next spring to call home.

So if you spot me tip-toeing down my driveway on the way to get the mail for the next month or so, I'm just trying to be a good neighbor. I'm also thinking that should take the sting out of having to share my property with a bunch of wasps!

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