There are several species of wasps out there, each with their own set of behaviours and nesting techniques. The following lists how yellow jackets, mud daubers, paper wasps, and hornets build their nests.
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There are many wasps and Hornets, which is a colloquial saying to describe a larger more aggressive wasp, which is a common sight in the later summer and fall as they get very aggressive and go after food. Especially sweet things children like to eat making them exceptionally dangerous. The yellow jacket is often the most common and is one of the many species of wasp that function as a hive.
They tend to build nests in abandoned rodent burrows and like other wasps have queens. The yellow jacket queens are not very fond of each other and will make separate nests. This is why the second year of a wasp infestation gets much worse. More queens mean more nests. They can go inside holes in mortar like paper wasps and can build nests in the attic, the basement and anywhere else they can access. Unlike other smaller wasps, a yellow jacket nest requires a professional to remove it.
The nest life cycle is simple. One queen to one nest. Everyone else is a sterile worker. The queen lays eggs and the workers build the nest and feed the eggs and queens with royal jelly stolen from beehives. When the fall approaches the queen will stop laying workers and focus on her new queens and their male consorts. The queen keeps a small royal guard attache who feeds and cares for the new queens and sexually active males. They grow up, mate, the males die and the females leave to hibernate somewhere safe. This means one wasp nest the next year can be as many as twelve new nests.
The nests are made of a similar paper material made of wood pulp and saliva. They can make much more complex nests that can also be closed like hornet nests or open like paper wasp nests. Open nests are often inside walls, attics and other safe spaces or underground. Closed nests often hang from trees or drip edges or roof overhangs.
Mud daubers are no threat to people and while a professional can exterminate them it’s not necessary. Mud daubers are very sluggish and do not attack with their stinger seemingly ever. They will make nests out of the mud on the outer walls of houses often on brick and wood and will make a little space inside where they lay an egg and drop in a decapitated insect head. They sting insects for the heads but they will not go near you. They can be annoying and may fly around your head as a threat but you would have to hit it for it to try and sting you.
Paper wasps are very large compared to yellow jackets but are also much calmer. They build nests that are incredibly different from other wasps of just about all kinds. The nest looks almost like a gramophone horn with a thin stem connected to a surface, often a ceiling or wall and grows large at the end where it blooms out into a paper honeycomb flower. It is a strange thing to see and the paper wasps make It very big and very scary. If you leave them alone they will do the same and they are safer to move than other wasps. You can relocate the nest and not kill them because unlike mos wasps they are a much wider pollinator of flowers than most hive wasps and hornets. Yellowjackets specifically kill bees and steal their honey and heads to bring them back to the queen and her larva. The paper wasps lay their larva and hunt for food on their own for the larva. They only have a few and as they grow they will join in producing eggs and feeding larva.
The female paper wasps lay the eggs and tend to the nest, the wasps that are born from the eggs are workers. Worker paper wasps are like yellow jacket workers and cannot handle the winter but if a queen finds her way into your home, most likely the attic they can stay there in the winter and never die off. They just keep hibernate, find mates in the spring and start laying eggs. These queens often wake up in the winter looking for a midnight snack. They will show up in the living room but will be tired and sluggish and easily killed. However, do not rely on that method as there are more females in the nest. You will need to hire a professional to come and treat and remove it before it becomes a hazard in the fall. If you have wasps in your walls that are alive do not seal the entrance hole as they will be forced to burrow through the drywall. Wait until they have been fully exterminated, waiting at least two months for the nest to reform. If it does not then start sealing holes everywhere you can find them. You can use silicone caulking but hiring a professional to do it is much better.
Hornets are large very aggressive wasps that makeup much smaller nests than yellow jackets. While they are wasps they are distinctly different in both appearance and size. A yellow jacket nest can contain up to a hundred thousand workers. A hornet’s nest often contains hundred or at most a few thousand. They are very beneficial while also being aggressive they will kill most of the insects on your property. Like yellow jackets, they have one queen per nest who is much larger than the other with often a different colour hue. The queen makes workers and the workers feed the workers and raise them and feed the queen with insects. The hornet nest will often look bigger than a yellow jacket nest but has fewer insects because they are much bigger and need a lot more space. Like yellow jacket nests that are closed, they are made of wood pulp but because the hornets are larger the wood pulp pieces are larger and the nest gets a much darker and more frightening appearance with a strong grain and dark spots.