6 Jul 2009

One piece at a time . . .

. . . and it didn’t cost him a dime. My garden furniture being removed, that is.

I blogged a couple of months ago about opening the back door to find the early stages of a wasps nest being built against the door frame and how last summer I had watched one particular wasp come to one of my timber seats regularly to strip off the wood for one such nest.

They seemingly take timber from convenient nearby sources and basically chew it into pulp for the paper that goes to make the fascinating many layered paper dome shaped nest – rather like a large paper onion – they inhabit.

Well, there we were on Sunday, enjoying a mid-afternoon brew in the garden between tasks and another wasp landed on the back of the bench I was on and started doing his timber stripping routine. The one I’d watched last year was a little more self-conscious – he didn’t like an audience and if he became aware of me, he’d sidle off down the back of the chair to harvest his building materials unseen.

But this chap wasn’t quite so precious about his task, he quite brazenly worked a few inches from me, the rhythmical sound of his timber work alerting me to his arrival. He would fly off with his cargo and return shortly for some more. It’s fascinating that they return to exactly the spot they left, literally continuing the stripping from where he left off – the whole garden to work in and he flies back to the very fibres he had got to on his last trip, the same as I’d witnessed last summer.

I was also interested that the wasp last year and this fellow had different techniques. Last year he would meticulously roll up the 2mm wide strip he removed as he worked and once it had become quite a bulky chunk under his chin, he’d secure it and fly off. This chap on Sunday was somewhat more haphazard in his technique. He seemingly stripped fibres off loosely and when he was satisfied he had a decent quantity, he’d rear up on his back legs, sort it out with his front legs, tucking it into a loose bundle and when he was happy it was safely gathered together, he’d fly off.

I suspect that he’s young and still has learning to do – he didn’t appear quite as efficient as his predecessor.

He seemed to gather it loosely, then rear up on his hind legs in order to secure his load with his front legs, before take off. Please click the photo for a larger view.

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