Paper Wasps
A young mated paper wasp queen (Polistes spp.) having over wintered in leaf litter or in the soil, emerges in the spring and finds a nice spot for her nest. Then she chews up bits of wood (from winter-bare and dry twigs and branches) into a pulp and mixes it with her sticky spit. Then she spits it back out and arranges the sticky pulpy bits with her mouth parts and feet into six-sided paper cells (like ice cream cones) for eggs to be laid in and young reared. She makes a round grey nest that looks like it has been woven out of strips of newspaper. Also big sheets of paper are made and are draped around the whole growing nest to protect it from the weather.

Dissecting microscope images of paper wasp paper nest cells.

Image of Adult Wasp at nest cells.

What's for Dinner?
Fact or Infotainment?
Dinner for larvae (developing in paper cells in nest) is delivered by foraging workers who catch small insects and then chew them into a paste then regurgitate it later for the larvae. The adult workers drink nectar, fruit juices and other insects.

There is a legend that the Chinese inventor of paper was inspired to his creation by watching paper wasps at work outside his window.


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