Thanks for the encouragement Vulgaris!
I am now tending three nests in my yard, "Wy," a Mischocyttarus mexicanus cubicola queen with one joiner and eight cells in her nest which are filled with eggs and young larvae. "Cate," is a Polistes Exclemans queen with four workers and eggs, larvae and pupae in her steadily growing nest. Last but not least is the currently solitary, "Liz," a somewhat shockingly large Polistes Sp. that may be Fuscatus of Metricus, her young nest has eight cells with only eggs inside for the moment.
They are all located in bushes.
I discovered Wy on February 28th while standing next to a bush, watching squirrels in a tree. I herd a tiny buz next to my ear, softer than a mosquito, when I turned to look she was hovering in front of my face seemingly, "checking me out." Seeing no acts of agression I stood still until she flew back to her nest which I followed her to. As the first wasp I'd seen this year I was pleased as punch and decided to offer her some honey which she took happily from my finger
She was solitary at this time and had only five cells with tiny pearl-like eggs inside. A few days later her "Friend," appeared who is quite a bit smaller than Wy. The joiner did not trust me for some time, flying away whenever I would come to feed Wy, who was completely non-plussed. However I am pleased to say that just a few days ago she decided to enthusiastically partake in the honey as well! Once, after the sudden explosion of Eastern Tent Caterpillars in my yard, (They are EVERYWHERE!) I took one and chopped it in half to give to Wy because she had not been taking honey lately. I figured she needed protein for egg production. She totally went to town
on the peice I gave her which I had now realized was a bit large for the tiny wasp, she literally pulled it out of my fingers and tried to hold it herself. The peice proved to be too heavy and after fluttering in the air with it she dropped the peice into my waiting hands. I had them cupped beneath her because I suspected this would happen. After that I placed the caterpillar meat atop the branch on which her nest was hanging from, it was well munched the next day. Unfourtunately I can't bear to smoosh cute fuzzy caterpillars any more as it is too "traumatic" for me...
It makes me very guilty
Now I give her a steady supply of grain weevils, which she likes and are not as dificult for me to kill as they are a pest in our parrot food! I also intend to catch some of those annoying flys that are found near garbage cans, rotted fruit etc. and try her out on those. Perhaps if she likes them she will hunt them too!
All in all, I feed her for the sole purpose of developing a peaceful and friendly relationship that I can learn from and because I like her. These efficient creatures need no human aid!
A little on Wy's behavior:
She's very calm, never so much as even threatened to sting! The only time I've ever seen her upset is one day when I was slightly stressed and she seemed to pick up on it, even then her only response was to fly away momentarily.
This is one patient wasp! barely even noticed when I had my camera lense less than an inch away from her.
She is very tolerant of having her nest gently touched, (By me) as I have accidentaly done so on several occasions while feeding her, she tends not to react at all. What she does do consistently is re-apply her pheromones to the nest by rubbing her abdomen on the place I touched, the joiner does this too.
To feed her, I gently brush the item, (honey or insect meat,) against her antenae, if she's hungry and wants it, she'll start eating, if not, she turns around. I found that she displays this comunicatory behavior very consistenly.
Before Vulgaris told me that North American Paper Wasps have a strictly insect diet, I tried to give her several different protein rich foods, these were:
Un-spiced, lightly boiled chicken
Her reaction to these was the same to each one and very expressive, she would feel/taste/smell it with her antenae very curiously, then seeing that the item did not please her she would first back away
from it and turn around. I took this to mean that she did not consider it be food.
Often when I come and carefully lift the leaf that covers her nest she turns to look at me without any threat postures, perhaps expectantly?
I have seen her display the "begging" behavior that Polistes described in his Wasp Keeping Artical, (hanging upside down on the nest with front legs outstretched.)
Hope it was a good read, if you all think so I will post my observations on the other two nests next. Prayers and Be Well!
Edited by Mamata, 19 March 2011 - 09:33 PM.