Subject:  Inside a European Paper Wasp nest
Geographic location of the bug:  Tonasket, WA
Date: 01/22/2018
Time: 11:00 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I think I can only send one picture at a time.  There’s 3.
At the end of the hatching season, these1/2 dozen or so had a hole chewed in the top of their egg cell. None of the earlier eggs had this done to them. Don’t know if it was the baby or their mates that did it. About 2 weeks later the wasp emerged the same way as all the rest, by chewing the cap off from the inside and flipping it back like a Pez dispenser. They were next to my garden, and I had absolutely no bugs. Not good ones or bad ones. They are also very calm. I took tons of pictures and the only time they got excited was when the wind blew my hair into their nest. They didn’t chase me very far… lol. I know they eat the good as well as the bad, but that’s just nature. My moral dilemma here, is I know they are an invasive species. Any thoughts on whether or not they should be destroyed?
How you want your letter signed:  Cathy

European Paper Wasp Nest

European Paper Wasp Nest (10 days later)

This is on 8-15-17, and I’m sending it because it looks like it has moved in there. I’m really  close, 3 or 4 inches and on macro. Sorry it’s still blurred. None of the wasps cared I was there. It hatched a couple of days later.

European Paper Wasp Nest (11 days later)

Dear Cathy,
Thanks for sending in your images of the activity in a European Paper Wasp Nest.  According to BugGuide:  “First reported in North America in 1978 near Boston, MA” and “Replacing native wasps in some areas.”  According to Colorado State University Extension:  “The European paper wasp has already largely replaced the native species in much of the region. Some reasons for the competitive advantage to P. dominulus over our native paper wasps include:

  • Earlier establishment of colonies in the spring, which allows it a competitive advantage in collection of early season prey. Early nest establishment also avoids some bird predation, and allows the production of early season workers to hunt for prey and protect developing larvae.
  • The habit of using protected nesting sites provides protection from predation. The European paper wasp utilizes small holes and voids to make nests, which are sites the native species does not exploit to the same extent.
  • The native paper wasps prey on caterpillars, while the European paper wasp capture a variety of insects from several orders. The varied diet of our new invader gives it a distinct advantage over the native species.
  • European paper wasps reuse nests that have been abandoned for various reasons, while our native species do not reuse nests. European paper wasps have an advantage in being able to establish colonies more quickly than the native paper wasps.

We empathize with your dilemma.  At the end of the day, there are species that adapt to co-existing with humans and species that do not.  Species that adapt to living near humans often out compete native species.  We always lament the loss of native species after the introduction of invasive species. 

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Location: Tonasket, Washington

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