Author Topic: Polistes exclamans - Paper Wasp  (Read 1151 times)

Offline Michael

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Polistes exclamans - Paper Wasp
« on: June 25, 2014, 04:03 PM »
While sitting in my backyard, I noticed this large green worm fall from the tree into the grass.  It turns out that this 3" worm was being eaten by one of the many paper wasps that I "encourage" around my house. 
So, by simply not removing wasps from my home, I've got a built in army of worm hunters that keep my trees in balance from the barrage of springtime worms that love to eat tree leaves.  If the wasps get too close to my entry or somewhere undesirable, I just use a water hose to spray them off without hurting the adults.  If you are really "into wasps", you can relocate their nests by first spraying them all off their nest with a water hose (or “bee vacuum” them off and give them their nest back).  Then gently remove the nest, and then re-glue it to a removable board with some cyanoacrylate (super) glue.  Place the nest back in the same spot, and the wasps will return in a short time.  If the board you make also includes magnets for holding on a screened box, you place the screen box over them at night, and you then have a movable paper wasp nest for easy relocation.
One of the most amazing insect observations that I have ever seen involved the Paper Wasp, Polistes exclamans.  I was looking at a fish tank on my back porch that sorties of wasps would constantly come and get water from.  One wasp fell into the water and was flailing in distress nearly upside down in the water.  A second wasp on the edge immediately flew down, grabbed the flailing wasp, picked it up, and returned it to the side of the fish tank, while also righting it!  So I had just witnessed something I felt was truly amazing for an insect.  At that very moment, I knew that I was doing the right thing by encouraging these creatures, and I felt a sense of pride for taking the time to observe and encourage an organism that many others choose to exterminate as a matter of their first interaction other than a sting.  Seek not to destroy something that one does not first seek to thoroughly understand.
So, then I got to thinking, "How can I build or encourage others to build wasps habitat?"  Well, wasps love the eves of our houses and structures, so we've already built their habitat, it's just a matter of getting the word out that "Wasp and Hornet Killer" is bad for the balance of things, and that wasps deserve more care and attention than that.  After all, they are pollinators and worm predators, both of which benefit your trees, corn, and tomato crops, among others...  So, if wasps annoy you, realize that you can use water hose spray to remove them without any pesticide at all. (have someone else do it if you are allergic) 
An idea would be to build "wasps nests" sites where wasps could live close to the garden and be encouraged to nest, while still being well away from human interaction.  Once setup, queen paper wasps will often return to nearly the same spot each year.

Offline CharlotteBeeOrganic

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Re: Polistes exclamans - Paper Wasp
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2014, 01:06 PM »
What a great posting! Thorough, clear and eye-opening. Ta, ++cj