Monday, December 29, 2008

Nesting

Gerry reminds us that the late Eartha Kitt, Catwoman forever, collected wasp nests. I don’t have a whole nest, alas, but here are some pieces of nests for your perusal. Note that paper wasps, Polistes fuscatus, don’t build the football-shaped nests that are usually attributed to them; their nests are a single horizontal layer of paper cells. The usually gray football-like nests are actually the work of bald-faced hornets, Dolichovespula maculata. This is the best time of year to see them, hanging like evil eggs in the bare tree limbs. They are typically gray, as in this piece, which I found in California: But, depending on the type of wood they are chewing, other colors can be found. This reddish paper was from a nest in our own Prospect Park:
Winter, by the way, is also the best time of year to collect the nests. After the first couple of hard freezes the nests are cleaned out and abandoned. Don’t go messin’ with ’em in spring and summer, though.

3 comments:

amarilla said...

I came across one of those large football shaped ones you mention in Prospect Park on the day of our most recent storm, lying on the snow in front of the East Wood Arch. It was a little too dark to see much color but I think it was kind of reddish like yours. Everything was grey and white but the bark of the Osage Orange, was curry colored just under the weathered layer.

The photographer Alice Garik took the nest home with her. Maybe she'll give me a silver gelatin print of it if I'm nice.

M.Thew said...

If you're nice? You didn't fight her for it, so she better frame the print, too.

Gerry Gomez Pearlberg said...

You have to time your nest-taking carefully. I had a gorgeous nest in the shed last summer, and patiently waited for a couple of hard frosts...but then the squirrels tore the nest to shreds, seeking (I guess) the dead protein within...


Happy 09!