The thing I love best about this job (it’s not really a job–it’s an act of love) is never knowing what I’m going to find when I head out each day. Admittedly, sometimes buried deep within is an unspoken fear that I might not find anything. But were that the case, the fault would be mine not nature’s, because nature is so filled with wonders. On “slow” days I am forced to open my eyes a little wider, and look a little harder to discover what would otherwise be missed. So it was with this yellow jacket wasp nest–at knee level, in the brush, just off the path. I almost missed it, and would never have thought to look for it there.
Here are a few interesting facts about yellow jackets from Wikipedia. Colonies are annual with only inseminated queens overwintering. Queens emerge during the warm days of late spring or early summer, select a nest site, and build a small paper nest in which they lay eggs. The queen feeds the young larvae for about 18 to 20 days. After that, the workers in the colony will take over caring for the larvae, feeding them with chewed up food, meat or fruit. Adults feed primarily on items rich in sugars and carbohydrates, such as fruits, flower nectar, and tree sap, and larvae feed on proteins, such as insects, meats, and fish. Adult workers chew and condition the meat fed to the larvae. Larvae in return secrete a sugar material relished by the adults. Truly amazing.