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Why Do Wasps Like My House? – Part I

By Chris Williams on June 12, 2014.
Wasp Bees Yellowjackets

Paper wasps tending to larvae. Click to see larger

At this time of year, in early summer, wasps are still pretty docile and are busy growing their nests and producing new wasps. Most of our wasp complaint calls occur either in late summer when yellowjackets and other wasps become annoying as they switch their food preferences to people food, or when wasps are building nests in or on homes.

If You Build it, They Will Come!

Wasps build their nests in trees, in shrubs, in the ground, in outside equipment, or in or on structures, including sheds, garages, and our houses. A high priority when building a nest is protection from wind, rain, and direct sun. For a wasp, the overhang of a roof, a protected area under eaves, inside a vent, or behind shutters that are protected by a porch, are all good places to begin building a nest. Yellowjackets and some other wasps (and also honey bees) sometimes build a nest inside a wall void or in the attic of a home if they can find access from outside.

For wasps, nest building begins in spring and continues throughout the summer. For social wasps, the number of wasps and the nest itself both grow in size as the queen lays more eggs, and more workers hatch out to take care of the young and the nest.

The wasps’ nests most often seen on homes are built by the paper wasps (or umbrella wasps), or by mud dauber wasps. Mud daubers are not much of a threat since they are not social wasps; a single female plasters the mud tubes to the side of your house. Once she has sealed her young inside the tubes (with paralyzed spiders for food), the female leaves the area. The paper wasp’s nest, however, can eventually be home to dozens of wasps. It consists of a single open cell comb that hangs upside down attached by a short stem. As the nest grows, more wasps are available to attach more cells around the edges of the comb. Occasionally, baldfaced hornets will build their large, papery, ball-shaped nests under the overhang of a roof.

Wasps probably like your house because they grew up in the neighborhood. Although they don’t re-use their old nests, they do tend to build new nests in the same general area. So if you had wasps’ nests on your house last year, you’re likely to have them again.

For more on the wasps mentioned above, see:

Photo credit: motleypixel / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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