An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter of September 29, 2008
issued from the Yucatán, México


Almost at head level on the lowest branches of the very dense, dark-green Guaya, Talisia olivaeformis, tree in my backyard there's a paper-wasp nest about the size of a human adult's head, shown below:

.PAPER-WASP NEST in Yucatan, Mexico

One neat feature of this nest is that you can see how as it was constructed it simply incorporated twigs and leaves occupying the space of the future nest. At the nest's top, look at how twigs enter the nest; they exit on the opposite side. At the nest's bottom you can see how the growing nest is in the process of engulfing a leaf.

PAPER-WASP NEST entrance, Yucatan, Mexico

Above you can see into the entrance. When this image first appeared on my screen the entrance showed us as nothing but a black hole, but with PhotoShop I overexposed the hole until the hexagonal cells inside showed up -- the honeycomb. Toward the picture's bottom wasps agitated by my presence are swarming out so fast that they're only blurs. Only one stung me, and it wasn't very painful, about like a "sweat-bee's" sting in the North. These little beings are not at all eager to sting.

My neighbors tell me that in the old days people would tear open the nests not only for the honey but also for the cells filled with grubs developing into adult workers. The grubs were considered good eating.


The other day I came upon one with its exterior partly torn away and I thought you might be interested in seeing the layers of hexagonal cells inside it. The picture is below:

paper wasp nest inside

When I showed the picture to a friend here I got the usual report on how tasty the wasp grubs are sautéed with a little salt and chili sauce.