Paper wasps are a social species that build paper like celled beats from wood pulp and saliva. These are attached to a sheltered overhang by a tough stalk of fibre coated in ant repellent. A fertilised female or queen begins the construction and is then joined by other females who form a small colony. The females add more concentric circles of cells to the nest and lay eggs at the bottom of each cells. They defend the nest aggressively and instead of the parasitised food provisioned in other wasps species, the larvae are fed directly on a diet of chewed up caterpillars. A division of labour occurs between the older and the younger females whereby the older wasps lay eggs while the younger are tasked with hunting. Once the larvae are ready to pupate a paper like lid is placed over their individual cells. Newly emerged females remain with the colony and integrate into their caste roles, while the males do not do any work but are fed by the females until required for mating after which they perish.
By PG Coetzee
Image: Google images