About a week ago, we noticed a wasps nest that had been made in a pile of hay. We couldn’t see the nest, just a hole into the side of the pile with a diameter of around 5cm and a steady stream of wasps entering and leaving. We know that a wasps nest is never reused a second year and that the wasps die at the end of the summer and so we were planning on excavating the nest out of the hay during winter to have a look at it.
But that’s not going to happen – we were beaten to it.
Yesterday, rather than a pile of hay, we saw this:
Which, in more of a close up, looked like this:
Overnight, a badger had dug the nest out to get at the larvae.
This is apparently something they do. They keep an eye on the nest until the night when they judge the larvae are at their juiciest and then attack the nest from the top to avoid the worst of the stings from the wasps guarding the entrance, which is to the side.
A little way away from the nest site, there were discarded combs:
In closer detail the combs looked like this:
Nearly all the larvae had gone but the internet photo below shows what the wasp larvae look like:
Although there were no wasp larvae, there were these flat things wriggling out of the combs:
These are the larvae of the hoverfly Volucella inanis. These hoverflies lay their eggs in wasps nests and their larvae live off the wasp larvae. I read that these parasitic larvae seem to be invisible to the wasps who just walk over them without noticing them and so don’t evict these intruders from their nest.
Here is an internet photo of the hoverfly Volucella inanis:
The wasps now look like they are trying to rebuild the nest and we will watch progress with interest over the next few days. The Queen is still around in the wrecked nest. Here she is:
What a size difference.
Away from the wasps, the bird ringers had a successful day today. They caught and ringed a total of 63 birds (37 Linnets plus one retrap, 6 Willow Warbler, 5 Blackcap, 3 Whitethroat, 2 Reed Warbler, 5 Blue Tit, 2 Great Tit, 1 Chaffinch and 1 Garden Warbler). A total of 48 Linnets have now been caught and ringed in the last couple of weeks. More ringing is planned for next week.
The Tawny was around last night and showed up on a couple of cameras. We always get terribly excited about owls:
Shame it had its back to us!