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Mike's Blog - Day 176

Back to the wasps nest today.

I asked the folks at Biosci how the wasps make such a huge hole in the ground.

There have been studies apparently on Oriental Hornets, Vespa orientalis. These are slightly bigger, but it’s believed wasps probably use the same method. The research showed that the majority of the hornets nests began as small holes, a burrow from a badger or rodent for example.

Then, over the summer, worker/digger hornets enlarge the hole by excavating the soil with their mandibles. They then fly away from the nest carrying the soil in their mandibles and release it away from the nest. This explains why there is no pile of soil outside the nest.

Common wasps, Vespula vulgaris, and German wasps, Vespula germanica, are both very common in the UK.

Both are more likely to nest in the ground in forested areas. However, in urban areas, particularly the common wasp, will nest in roof spaces and the German wasps are more likely in walls.

The digging abilities of the badger are much greater than those of the wasps. Today’s picture is one I took many years ago when we had to pick up a badger that has been killed on South Road. I took a picture of its foot to show the children’s wildlife group we ran at the time. Quite an impressive “tool”.

Craig discovered yet another wasps nest today and got several stings on his legs. It seems there are a higher number of wasps nests around than normal, so be wary!