9 May 2014

Wasp patrol!

There are lots of signs of spring around at the moment such as swallows returning to the skies above the volunteer centre and great swathes of bluebells in the woods. Unfortunately there's also the return of wasps looking for a place to build a nest, which gives us an unpleasant dilema.

Wasps build amazingly intricate structures for their nests, which they make from a paper like substance they produce by chewing wood and mixing it with saliva. If you ever see a wasp on fence or shed around this time of year and aren't too nervous, get a little closer and you may be able to hear it scaping wood off.

Not just on wood either - this nest was appearing in our metal tool store!

Initially, it's just the queen building a small nest to lay a few eggs in. When these hatch, they are sterile females that quickly build a larger nest around the queen as their numbers increase.

It's this point that we need to avoid. Here at High Wray volunteer centre we have a number of tempting buildings that wasps really like to build nests on. The thing is, they're all buildings that we and anyone else staying here need to access (boot store, tool store, drying room etc) so we can't really have a giant wasp nest in there as well.

Hence the wasp patrol. This time of year we take regular patrols round our outbuildings and knock off the nascent nests before they get a chance to get established. A few goes at this and the queen gets discouraged and goes somewhere else, meaning we've hopefully not caused too much harm to these much maligned creatures. It's not a nice thing to have to do, but hopefully the queen will find herself a nice quiet spot to make her home and Basecamp volunteers can get on with their day in peace!

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