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Sunday, 25th September  2022 1:20:am

wasp nestwasp nest - taken by the author, Bill Tschan, showing larvae and a newly developed waspDuring the wet season in Aitutaki, (November to April) a very common insect in the plantations, the bush and the Secret Garden, is the ordinary Wasp

Paper wasps have some beneficial value as predators of pest caterpillars, however they have a painful sting and will attack any person approaching or disturbing their nest.
It is therefore best to keep away from these nests since the wasps do not attack when away from their nest.

Life history

Paper wasps are a social wasp consisting of small colonies of 12-20 individuals.
Adult wasps feed on nectar and make 'paper' nests by mixing saliva and wood fibres.
Nests are a nursery where larvae are kept one to each cell.
The larvae are fed on chewed-up caterpillars caught by the adults.
The cells are then capped and the larvae pupate. Most paper wasps die in autumn or winter, while some hibernate to start new nests next season.



Polistes humilis or common paper wasps are generally slender with long thin wings.
They are 10-15 millimetres long, tan in colour with darker bands and some yellow on the face.
Other species of paper wasps are larger or smaller and differently coloured.
Paper wasps make nests of grey papery wood fibre material.
The nests are cone-shaped, becoming round as more cells are added.
Nests are a maximum diameter of 10-12 centimetres, with numerous hexagonal cells underneath, some with white caps.
Nests are exposed and suspended by a short stalk under an overhang, often on a pergola, the eaves of a roof or in a shrub or tree.

Because many of these species live in colonies, if one stings you, you may be stung by many. Although most stings cause only minor medical problems, some stings may cause serious medical problems

Because wasp larvae is high in protein and low in fat, people in many countries, especially in South East Asia, eat these larvaes. They are acceptable in taste (which is a bit like a raw, yellow egg-yolk) and quite nourishing, the wasp larvae is a very healthy food. Scientists have announced that, pound for pound, these larvae contains more protein than does beef. It is for that reason that, when I find these nests, I pull them off the tree and have a healthy snack. This also helps to reduce the chance of getting stung in the future.

Aitutaki Lagoon