Wasp Life Cycle
The life cycle of a wasp colony begins in early spring with a new queen wasp, and ends in winter with the death of the colony’s queen. Each wasp colony has the same caste system: one egg-laying queen wasp, sterile female worker wasps and male wasps.
Spring – start of a new colony
- Fertile queen wasps emerge from winter hibernation to find a suitable place to build a nest.
- Each wasp goes through complete metamorphosis from an egg, larvae, pupa to a full grown wasp in the cell of the nest.
Wasp nests are made up of chewed wood mixed with their own saliva, known as wood pulp. The queen builds a few cells and lays her eggs inside, which she rears to be her first worker wasps. These wasps take over the nest building process, rear the young and forage for food for the expanding colony.
- The queen becomes a full-time egg layer and produces 200-300 eggs per day. She also releases pheromones to keep the colony united.
Summer – expansion of colony
- The colony and the nest grow at a rapid rate – in spring there are approximately 5,000 wasps in the nest, while in the height of summer there can be up to 10,000 wasps!
- The nest grows from the size of a golf ball to a football as the number of insects in the colony increases (wasps are able to construct their nest to any shape to fit the space available).
Late Summer – climax of colony
- Towards the end of summer, the growth of the colony has peaked and the queen produces eggs that develop into new queens and fertile males wasps.
Autumn – decline of colony
- As the weather cools, the existing queen reaches the end of her life and the social structure within the colony begins to break down.
- The remaining wasps have no commitment to the nest and indulge in sugary foods, such as a rotten fruit and in some cases your lunch!
- The new queens leave the nest and are fertilised by male wasps, before finding a place to hibernate overwinter until the following year.
Late Autumn/Winter – end of colony
- The entire nest and colony dies.
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