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Mystery Picture Answers

No. 3

Part of a wasp's nest

Part of a wasp's nest.  It was found broken-up on the ground following a raid of the nest by a hungry badger who dug it out looking for food.  Normally the Common Wasp Vespula vulgaris nests in a dark location, often under the ground.  The nest consists of around 8,000-10,000 hexagonal (six sided) cells arranged in 8-10 tiers of about 20cm in diameter.  The building material is paper-like and made of "chewed" rotting wood mixed with the wasp's saliva.  Construction is begun by a queen wasp but completed by workers (sterile females).  The queen lays an egg in each cell which develops into a larva.  The workers feed the larvae chiefly on a broken-up "mash" of insects which they have caught.  The cells can be used more than once.  As well as catching insects, adult wasps also like to feed on sweet substances, including flower juices, rotting fruit and household foods like jam and soft drinks.  The Common Wasp is found in many parts of the world including Europe, North America and Australia.  It is most often found in woods, fields and hedgerows and frequents areas near water.


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