urbpan: (dandelion)
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I was called up to see a tree up in a non-public part of the zoo, which (the thought was) might have a hornet's nest in it. A hornet's nest in a tree is pretty obvious--either it's a big gray paper football, or it's hidden in a big dead cavity in the tree. This was a pretty small elm, with no big holes, no big paper nests, but plenty of wasps and hornets on and around it. However, there were other insects involved as well, such as this Calliphorid carrion fly.

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urbpan: (dandelion)
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A light fixture is no place to establish a colony. I mean, it has its virtues--it's under the eave protected from the rain, for example. But whatever benefits this location provides are vastly outweighed by being an inconvenience to the humans within the building.

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It's a shame because the architects of this young nest were bald-faced hornets Dolichovesula maculata*, who voraciously hunt other insects to feed to their young--I have read that they even catch their closest relatives, the much hated yellow jackets. Adults feed on liquid sugar, either flower nectar or the juice of discarded fruit. Workers defend the nest bravely and energetically. One memorable time I was attacking a mature nest and the workers kept bouncing off my bee veil, directly in front of my eyes. More often then not these social wasps build their nests high in the leafy canopy of trees, and we don't even know they were there until the autumn reveals the empty nest.

* "Spotted, long little wasp"
urbpan: (dandelion)
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I went over my chemical use records and ascertained that this was the 23rd wasp nest I'd destroyed using insecticide. This was another bald faced hornet nest, right next to a statue of a gorilla that kids love to climb all over.
urbpan: (dandelion)
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While trimming some of the viburnum shrubs in the zoo, one of our horticulture department staff found these two large nests. The top one is belongs to aerial yellowjackets (probably Dolichovespula arenaria) and was discovered right above a pathway through the Children's Zoo. When I took it down I noticed that they had already started producing next year's queens.

The second one belongs to bald faced hornets Dolichovespula maculata, which are also yellowjackets (notice they are in the same genus) but are black and white instead of black and yellow. They are also much larger than most species of yellowjacket. I generally leave them alone since they are not as aggressive as some other species, and are beneficial predators of other insects. Some sources say they'll even prey on other yellowjacket species. Unfortunately this nest was discovered right over a picnic/special event area, so I took it down.

Tough call

Aug. 1st, 2014 10:16 pm
urbpan: (dandelion)
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urbpan: (dandelion)
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I carry my camera around with me at work to document field work that I'll need to prioritize. First thing Monday AM I should probably deal with this bald-faced hornet nest, built on an air conditioner right by a door.

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