Why Wasps Become So Annoying at the End of Summer

Wasps, which include yellowjackets and hornets, are annoying any time you disturb them or threaten their nests. But in the late summer, they are more likely to approach your picnic or backyard barbecue for no discernible reason and ruin a good time. Just a few weeks before, they left you alone. To understand why, you have to know something about a wasp’s life cycle and habits.   

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To that hard-working mid-summer wasp, your prosecco luncheons and BBQ beers were a bore, because what she was after was protein. She is a hunter, a worker. In mid-summer, her purpose is to provide her baby siblings with protein. She is a sterile cog in a big superorganismal machine, driven by evolution to pass on her genes by raising siblings. Usually, the protein she hunts is other insects (garden caterpillars or flies). She brings prey to the colony where there are thousands of baby siblings to feed.

She might chew the prey up a little (and perhaps ingest some too) before feeding it directly to a larva, but the bulk of the protein goes to the babies. In return for her hard work, the larva will give her a carbohydrate-rich sugary secretion. This is thought to be the main mode of nutrition for adult worker wasps. Each colony will produce several thousand worker wasps and they are kept very busy for much of the summer feeding these brood; with the drive of a drug addict, they are hooked on the sugary secretions from the lips of their baby siblings.

Then as time passes, those larva turn into pupa, and no longer need to be fed as they turn into adult wasps. As the number of larvae dwindle, the adults look elsewhere for their sugar fix- like your flower garden or the beer that you may be holding. Read more about the cycle of life in a wasp’s nest over the summer months at The Conversation.  -via Damn Interesting

(Image credit: Jerzy Strzelecki)

Source: neatorama

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