wasps feeding

Wasp feeding behaviour 

Although it’s not been the greatest summer ever, you would have been aware of wasps buzzing about the garden all summer long, but so far, they’ve been ignoring you and keeping to themselves; generally they haven’t been a problem but all of a sudden that has changed and now the wasps have become a proper pest. 
Those social wasps that we consider as being pests here in Reading, have a few behavioural quirks which I find fascinating and one of the more dynamic of these is what I refer to as colony collapse. This phenomenon occurs from around midsummer onwards and their behaviour is something that drives people round the bend. 
So, when this collapse occurs, if wasps aren’t buzzing around your head, then they’re trying to get inside your drinks or landing on the side of your plate, and sometimes you’ll go outside to find wasps are crawling literally everywhere; they’re sitting on the patio furniture, all over the plants, and walking about on the car – but what is going on? 
Well, what you’re seeing with this wasp activity is actually the end of a colony, because up to now these worker wasps were controlled by the Queen wasps’ pheromones, they have been busy building their nest, tending to the larvae growing inside and catching insects to feed those grubs. This has all changed because that colony is no more and has pretty much ceased to function. 
four wasps feeding on a branch
While the Queen wasp is alive and producing eggs, these workers are really busy and under the control of the pheromone given off by her; on those occasions when we destroy a nest and take it away immediately, you can see the instant affect this has on the workers as they become confused and disorientated. It’s the same thing when that Queen dies at the end of her natural lifespan; confusion reigns. 
What’s been happening inside the colony is this, the workers have been catching and bringing back insects to feed to the larvae, who as a result, release a sugary secretion that they feed to the wasps, it’s a sort of a thank you for looking after them; the wasps feed the grubs and they feed the wasps. When the production of larvae comes to an end because the Queen is dead, there is no more food for those wasps tending the nest, they will now starve to death. 
Because the wasps won’t just give up and die, they seek easy alternatives like sweet liquids such as the sap from willow trees and lime trees; anyone who has ever parked their car under one of these trees understands how much sap gets deposited. The remaining wasps are desperate for food and so they will crawl over any surface that has a residue of sap on it. 
Another source of food are the juices from ripe or fallen fruit as these can be sucked up, and sometimes the natural alcohol found inside because of the fermentation process can make wasps drunk and aggressive. So, if you see wasps wandering around in your garden rather aimlessly, then you have a collapsed colony and there is not much that you can do about it. 
wasps on a bottle
Generally speaking, these wasps don’t have a nest to defend anymore so they are much less likely to attack you, although they will still sting if they land in your hair or get trapped inside your clothing. One possible solution is to the problem is to install lures around the garden, these attract the wasps into a chamber where they drown in the liquid lure. The only problem is that these lures will also bring more wasps and even hornets into the area so they should be used away from where you spend any time. 
two wasps eating jam
wasps feeding
wasp on a can
Tagged as: Bee's and wasps
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