European Paper Wasp Nest

Paper Wasp Nestlings
Location:  Chicago Ridge, IL
July 24, 2010 1:29 pm
Hi! There’s a sweet nest of paper wasps outside my back door. I’ve been taking pics and video of their nest building and activities, and I’m quite sure they’ve laid eggs, by their behavior, but I’m not sure what the specific deets are.
I see glistening drops inside the nest, tiny, seed-like, yellow-rice grain bits (eggs?), and amber-colored, shiny ooze.
Whatever could these things be? I’m guessing eggs, food/nectar, pupae/larvae, but I don’t know which is which, or who is who.
Can you help me out?
Krissy K.

European Paper Wasp Nest

Hi Krissy,
Your Paper Wasps are European Paper Wasps,
Polistes dominula.  According to BugGuide, it is An introduced species from Eurasia, often mistaken for a yellow jacket. First reported in North America by G.C. Eickwort in 1978 near Boston, Massachusetts.  There are reports of it replacing native species of wasps in some areas (Bob Hammon, Colorado State U.)”  BugGuide also indicates:  “occurs throughout Eurasia; continues to expand North American range which is currently (2006) known to include northeastern US, Florida, Ontario, British Columbia, Washington to California and east to Colorado. The largest of the Paper Wasps in your photos is the queen and the others are the female workers.  The cells of the Paper Wasp nest are used solely for the purpose of raising young, not to store food.  The “yellow ricelike bits” you see are probably hatchling larvae and the fluids are food for the larvae.  BugGuide indicates:  “Larvae are fed chewed-up pieces of caterpillars and other insects caught by adults. The adults, like other paper wasps, feed on nectar from flowers and other sugary liquids.”  We also found a Cirrus Image page on the European Paper Wasp that contains some interesting information and opinions.

Yes, thanks!  I was wondering about the eggs, and droplets of goo in the nest.  Which bits are the eggs?  What is that goo?  Nectar to feed larvae?  Larvae?  The eggs themselves?
If you can be of any help, I’d totally appreciate it!  I haven’t been able to find pictures with descriptions of what is what inside the nest.

We repeat, The “yellow ricelike bits” you see are probably hatchling larvae and the fluids are food for the larvae.  The food would be chewed up insects.  The eggs might be too small to see easily, though the workers would not supply food to unhatched eggs, so any cells with small particles but no “goo” would be eggs.


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