from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

architecture of a wasps' nest

Read this literally rather than metaphorically – though no doubt there's a symbolism in it too...

Over the last few weeks I've been watching a colony of wasps building a nest (I notice there's a bee/wasp/hornet thread running through my posts! I'm not whatever the entomological equivalent of a 'twitcher' is; I suppose it's just general interest in wildlife, and a certain pleasure in learning about those creatures we usually love to hate.)

They've been constructing this low down in the earthy bank of an old Devon holloway, overhung by foliage. First they tunneled out a horizontal adit, maybe 25 or 30 cms deep. Then painstakingly over many days a number of them started to build a nest, forwards towards the entrance, with their architectural layers of slightly waxy papery secretions (the texture's that of wood ash). Finally, most recently, they started to build a kind of flap/fixed portcullis downwards across the entrance, made from mud; in effect a door with a tiny entrance and exit very low down. At this stage you wouldn't have known there was a wasps' nest behind it, sunk safely into the bank.

Next thing, a couple of days ago, the whole structure's been smashed – weeks of work gone. And I have no idea who or why. It's unlikely to be another human – the nest was very well-hidden, very low down, and hardly anyone ever walks that tiny track. (Plus you'd be braving a swarm of angry wasps.)  Anyone paying enough attention as to notice it in the first place would probably have been someone actively interested in natural history and its ways, and unlikely to have smashed it.

As far as I know, wasps don't make honey; so I don't imagine it was a predator after that. I suppose it could have been a creature after the grubs; which creature eats wasp grubs and will brave the stings (on a sensitive nose/face?) to get to them?

If anyone knows this, please send me a Comment!

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