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#1 Mamata

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 03:47 PM

Hi, I'm new,
This may sound a little odd, but rather than keeping Wasps captive, I prefer to watch and care for them in my yard. I am currently feeding honey daily to one colony of Polistes Exclemans and another small nest of Mischocyttarus mexicanus cubicola occupied by a foundress and a joiner. They like the honey, but I suspected that they would want protein for their larvae and production of eggs. Our yard is full of Eastern Tent Caterpillars right now so I gave a peice of one to the dominant Mischocyttarus foundress which she took eagerly. Now when I see her she sometimes refuses honey and does something similar to that cute behavior that Polistes talked about in his wasp keeping artical, where they hang upside down on the nest with their front feet out. Here comes the weird part, I really hate killing anything, even caterpillars. I know its silly but I felt very guilty after the first time and would like to avoid doing that again. :haha: So my question is, can I feed them mashed up chicken or fish as a supplement to what they already hunt for? I read that they need very soft food so I'll cream it if I have to. Do these meats have any ill effects on Polistes Wasps? Should it be raw or cooked? Is it a viable source of protein for them? Can anyone suggest something better?
Note: They don't like peanut butter, I got the distinct feeling that they didn't know it was food. :scratching:
Hope to hear from you and thanks for reading! :rockon:

Edited by Mamata, 15 March 2011 - 03:49 PM.


#2 GBVK

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 09:29 PM

Welcome to the VL!
I dont know if polistes will take chicken or fish though i think vespula might. I would try and see how the polistes wasps react to the foods

#3 Mamata

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 04:44 PM

Thanks for the welcome and your interest GBVK :)
I tried giving them lightly boiled chicken with no spices, which they were curious about but did not eat, then I tried smoked salmon...same reaction. However, I do not believe I got an accurate reaction because my hands were a bit shaky, (not nerves, just happens to me sometimes.) They seem to be sort of used to it as I've never recieved any warning postures or violent behavior, often they just won't eat anything if my hands are not steady, perfectly understandable as they are so small! :P I'll try again soon and if they still don't like it I'll move on to something else. One possibility is that they might be getting what they need on their own right now as there's lots of bugs out. I know the honey works well for them, every time they eat it they usually take flight afterward and appear to be hunting, like it gives them a sudden boost of energy. I saw the Exclemans queen laying an egg in a cell that I had just seen them build the day before! :clap: Sadly I didn't have my camera with me...

I'll try to get some pictures up soon!

Be Well :party1:

Edited by Mamata, 18 March 2011 - 03:36 AM.


#4 vulgaris

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 05:05 PM

Polistes wasps, on the east coast at least, do not take any kind of meat (raw or cooked) even when offered it at the nest. Their diet consists strictly of insects

I know John has some Polistes species in his area (Hong Kong) that will scavenge different kinds of meat

If you are interested in feeding your local Polistes with foods other than honey, try squashed crickets or other soft bodied bugs such as caterpillars or flies

Are you located in Florida?

Edited by vulgaris, 17 March 2011 - 05:07 PM.


#5 Mamata

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 12:33 AM

Thanks for the tip Vulgaris, guess I'll just have to buck up and deal with my pacifist side. :peace2:
After all everything must eat to live. They've just been so patient with me I would like to give them what they really want and what would help their colonies.

Shutting up now before someone dials up the "Funny Farm." :crazy:

Yes, I am located in North Florida. Should I continue to update here on my progress with them?

Thanks and Be Well.

Edited by Mamata, 18 March 2011 - 12:34 AM.


#6 vulgaris

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Posted 19 March 2011 - 12:09 PM

Yes, please continue to update us! Here in PA the wasps are just emerging from hibernation. I know they are starting nests now in FL, so it would be cool if you could tell us about it. You are our only member in FL I think

#7 Mamata

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Posted 19 March 2011 - 06:59 PM

Thanks for the encouragement Vulgaris! B)

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 :dance:
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 :blush: :haha:

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:
Peanut Butter
Un-spiced, lightly boiled chicken
Smoked Salmon
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! :wub:

Edited by Mamata, 19 March 2011 - 09:33 PM.


#8 GBVK

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Posted 19 March 2011 - 08:48 PM

What kind of wasp is Mischocyttarus mexicanus? Is it like a polistes? What kind of nest does it make?

#9 Mamata

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Posted 19 March 2011 - 09:37 PM

GBVK, Mischocyttarus mexicanus cubicola is a subtropical/tropical species native to Florida. They are very similar to Polistes with the exception of a more elongated node between the thorax and abdomen. They tend to make a paper nest that is more long and dangly like many other tropical species, (Though their shape can differ from colony to colony,) rather than the triangle of Exclemans, or the Umbrella of Fuscatus.
http://bugguide.net/node/view/352932
http://bugguide.net/node/view/121421

This is Wy refusing to look at the camera!

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Edited by Mamata, 19 March 2011 - 09:56 PM.


#10 GBVK

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 02:42 PM

Ooo the long hanging nests are so cool. I hope Wy will have a large prosperous colony.

#11 Mamata

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 04:02 PM

Thank You GBVK!!! So do I! :cheer3:

#12 009Aaa

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 05:28 PM

Nice find on the tree branch nest. I hope it does not get destroyed by a bird and gets to the first worker stage and beyond!



#13 Mamata

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 09:47 PM

009Aaa:

Thank you for your concern! :love2: As do I, but I feel pretty good about the location at it is hidden behind leaves in a Ligustrum bush, I have to gently lift some leaves up to feed/photograph her. I always make sure she's well covered again when I leave.

Here is my plan:
I am attempting to cultivate patient, human friendly wasps on our property, the idea is to feed, protect and ensure safe hibernation for the most amenable wasps and their offspring. So far Wy has been the most patient insect of any species I've ever encountered and I would like to help promote her genetic line. Her behavior is temperate and predictable, she's never stung, doesn't nip and has never even fluttered her wings at me. She is also intelligent, having chosen to build her nest where the heavy rains we have here simply slide off the surrounding leaves. When I come to feed her she either immediately turns to look at me and hangs onto my finger, or when she doesn't want food, she turns her back to me...that little display of communication really floored me! Especialy since it's been so consistent! :coolspeak: While her nest is small, it poses no attraction to birds that I can see as it is invisable under even close inspection, one must lift a particular leaf to see her at all!. Also, her ant repelant pheromones seem to work well as I have witnessed the Carpenter Ants, (Camponotus Floridanus) that use the bush as an aphid farm, (You can see some scale bugs on the branches in my picture,) approach her nest and then hastily turn back. However, if her nest takes the typical longish shape of this species as it grows, it may start to poke out of the the bush where it can be seen from casual veiw. At this point, I will either relocate her family and nest to the inner part of the bush, or I will place it in a KK with a hole just big enough for the wasps to move in and out of while hunting and place that beneath the bush. I moniter my wasps each day and try my best to know what's going on with them. When and if her nest produces reproductives at the end of the year, my plan is to build a friendly relationship with the young queens that they will hopefully remember next year, introduce them to males of another docile hive and have a good place for them to hibernate in appropriate containers in our garage. Then next spring I will let them start their nests under my care in containers, and strategically place them in areas that are safe and filled with insect pray so they can free range, namely in bushes, near flowers and especially my soon to be started vegetable garden!
Note: I intend to give Wy, her daughters and all other cultivated colonies a cushy retirement at the end of their life cycle in return for hopefully protecting my crops and being generally friendly. I thoroughly believe in, "Give to get," and symbiotic relationships.

Done Tree Hugging Now, I hope you don't think I'm just plain nutz, I just believe love and compassion can have benefits, as it is nearly impossible to keep crop damaging insects off the plants around here without pesticide. And pesticide in my oppinion is the root of many human and animal illnesses, the consequenses of which have yet to be realized!

Be Well to All! :P

Edited by Mamata, 20 March 2011 - 09:50 PM.


#14 Mamata

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Posted 22 March 2011 - 02:27 PM

I finally got a FABULOUS photo of Wy, she is so sweet and patient and gave me the privlidge of looking at the camera! She even let me use the flash!!! No problemas! In the photo you can see one of her cute little larvae, they are just starting to turn pink.

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Edited by Mamata, 22 March 2011 - 02:33 PM.


#15 Hornetboy

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Posted 22 March 2011 - 02:38 PM

All I have to say is... WOW!!! I really wish there were more people like you in this world who have such an intense love for wasps!

You live in north Florida you say? Well, you are in the range of Polistes annularis (My #1 favorite Polistes species!). It is a large red wasp. In fact, it is the LARGEST Polistes species in Florida! I have many GINORMOUS P. annularis nests in my collection (One nest I have measures a whopping 1 foot across... literally the size of a dinner plate!). Here ya go:

Posted Image
Posted Image
Posted Image

Please check out this thread which showcases my P. annularis nests:
http://www.venomlist...showtopic=27951

Anyway, have you come across this awesome species yet?

By the way, welcome to the forum!

#16 009Aaa

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Posted 22 March 2011 - 02:58 PM

I have some family in Jacksonville Florida myself. When I was down there 9 years ago I remember seeing a lot of Bombus and Polistes spp. My aunt even had some Polistes nests in a basket with other nature stuff. College football, the beach, and some nature is what they are all about.

#17 Mamata

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Posted 22 March 2011 - 03:53 PM

Hornetboy:

WOW WOOOH WEEE! :woot: That is a beautiful collection, particulary the P. Annularis one next to your head! It must have held a very prosperous colony! That room would be like wasp nirvana for me! :drool5:

What a coincidence that you would ask about P. Annularis! I saw one checking out our car just today and stopped dead in my tracks to watch her, she was BEAUTIFUL and HUGE with her bright red body and inky black wings. I followed her flight in the hopes of seeing her nest but she went out of my reach.:( I will keep watch for this individual because I would love to have the chance to help her out and interact with her if she'll let me as I have with Wy and the other wasps in my yard. She may have been a young Queen searching for a good nest-site! It would be very good to cultivate a species large enough to hunt those big crop eating caterpilars and locusts.

I will soon be posting more on Wy and the other nests I'm tending, (Cate's Hive and Liz.) more pics comming!

009Aaa:
Your family sounds really nice, I have a little jar myself with two very small Polistes nests, an empty Lepidoptera cocoon and a perfect cicada shell, I've been colecting nature things since I was little! Back then it was mostly shells and rocks, which I have tons of!

I'm so glad to have met you nice people of like minds! :love2:

Edited by Mamata, 22 March 2011 - 04:08 PM.


#18 Hornetboy

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Posted 22 March 2011 - 07:46 PM

Yep, that is the largest Polistes nest which is in my collection. I am thinking the colony had several hundred adult wasps.

Thank you very much for your kind words regarding my collection of MONSTER nests! :) I am very lucky and blessed to have these awesome wasp nests. Please check out the rest of my collection here and let me know what you think:

http://www.venomlist...showtopic=27926

P. annularis would be the PERFECT species to cultivate for keeping crop-eating insects in check because of its large body size and its large colonies.

Hornetboy:

WOW WOOOH WEEE! :woot: That is a beautiful collection, particulary the P. Annularis one next to your head! It must have held a very prosperous colony! That room would be like wasp nirvana for me! :drool5:

What a coincidence that you would ask about P. Annularis! I saw one checking out our car just today and stopped dead in my tracks to watch her, she was BEAUTIFUL and HUGE with her bright red body and inky black wings. I followed her flight in the hopes of seeing her nest but she went out of my reach.:( I will keep watch for this individual because I would love to have the chance to help her out and interact with her if she'll let me as I have with Wy and the other wasps in my yard. She may have been a young Queen searching for a good nest-site! It would be very good to cultivate a species large enough to hunt those big crop eating caterpilars and locusts.

I'm so glad to have met you nice people of like minds! :love2:



#19 Mamata

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Posted 23 March 2011 - 11:39 AM

Hornetboy:
To repeat what I said in my previous post in your nest collection topic, BEAUTIFUL, absolutely beautiful! I hope you acquire many more gorgeous examples of wasp workmanship!

Edited by Mamata, 23 March 2011 - 05:51 PM.


#20 Hornetboy

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 08:38 AM

Thank you very much! You are too kind. :) Yes, I will definitely continue to collect MONSTER wasp nests until the day I die! I will always have a burning passion for this! Here is a video tour of my collection (I need to shoot an updated video since this one was shot years ago!). Please make sure that you turn up the sound so you can hear me talk. Enjoy! Here ya go:



So, what do you think about the video???

Hornetboy:
To repeat what I said in my previous post in your nest collection topic, BEAUTIFUL, absolutely beautiful! I hope you acquire many more gorgeous examples of wasp workmanship!


Edited by Hornetboy, 24 March 2011 - 08:41 AM.





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