Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

A nest begins

  1. The queen wasp awakes from hibernation in the  spring. After a short period of feeding and exploring, she begins to build a  nest in a dark and dry place. She usually chooses a warm spot, often in a bank  with a sunny aspect, but also in attics, house roofs, eaves, or walls, and can  fly up to 70 km in search of the perfect nest site.
  2. She builds a honeycomb-like cell structure out of  wood fibre. The wood fibre is chewed and glued together with wasp saliva to  form a sort of paper mâché material.
  3. In each cell of the new nest, the queen then lays a  single egg, which hatches into a larva in 5‒8 days. The queen gathers sugary  substances and catches other insects (for protein) to feed the larvae. After  five moults over about 15 days each larva spins a silken cap over the cell and  pupates. Pupation takes 8-18 days before an adult worker wasp emerges. In total  it takes approximately 28-48 days from egg to adult, although the length of  time spent in each stage is determined by environmental conditions.

Sometimes another queen tries to steal the nest  instead of working to make her own. There are many prolonged fights between  queens for the ownership of nests. This is one of the reasons why a large  proportion of founding nests (where the queen is still working alone) fail to  become established. Also, cold, wet springs reduce the number of nest which  establish. Once the queen has five to seven worker wasps to help her, she stays  in the nest and lays eggs for the rest of her life. The nest then grows  rapidly, and the nest is likely to survive for several months.