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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Annoyed polistes

This paper wasp, polistes exclamans, started building her nest just outside the front door today. It is positioned so that as I exit (or enter) the door, the top of my head is about 12 inches below the nest. I am shorter than average, so most people visiting my house will find their head closer than one foot to the nest as they enter my door; some taller folk will be at eye level. This arrangement would work well for discouraging solicitors, but doesn't seem like the best welcome for friends and relations.

The wasp seems annoyed, bordering on murderous, as I look at her and notice I can see eggs inside her three egg chambers. I grab the camera and start shooting: this heightened level of attention seems to be making her physically uncomfortable, so I stop looking at her for now because she is starting to make me physically uncomfortable as well. But I'm left wondering if she will leave us in peace as long as we don't make eye contact, or if we will have to take drastic measures to reclaim our porch as our own.


Anonymous said...

Too bad, it would be very interesting to see your excellent photos track the progress of a huge community nest but that could be too dangerous and so this might well be one time to seriously interfere with nature.
Or - use another door from now on. C

Cindy said...

I actually had to kill one of these yesterday because she was trying to start a nest too close to our front porch. For 3 days as she was choosing a nest site, I kept squirting her with water to chase her away. She was determined to stay, and by the time she had set down a foundation for her nest, even the water didn't work. I felt bad, but the alternative would have been my husband complaining about it all summer.

vanessa cardui said...

Yes, I think once the female is ready to lay she is quite single-minded. Hey, I remember feeling that way in the last couple weeks of pregnancy. We do allow many wasp nests to remain, but we humans are also a part of this tiny ecosystem and must occasonally exert our position. The wasps do a great job controlling caterpillar populations. Birds, in their turn, feed on the developing larvae in the nests.

I think the annoyed husband is likely to be worse than the annoyed wasp.