How some insects recycle

Updated: May 14, 2020

Image by Max Muselmann
'I am an artiste'

I find wasps a bit of a nuisance right at the moment because two of them have decided to take up residence in my bike shed. They are absolutely fine there, buzzing contentedly through the joint where the door doesn't quite fit correctly, until you have the temerity to actually want to get access to your bike that is.

They don't like it. They get resentful. They could even be described as a little annoyed. And a wasp who is annoyed (i.e. nearly all of the time) is not to be trifled with.

Because the moment you open up the door they go ape (or more correctly - wasp) by making repeated sorties towards your face and any other unprotected areas of your anatomy. This generally has the effect of sending me running away squealing and seeking shelter in my home like an 80 kilogram baby, but slightly faster and with better expletives.

So I don't actually enjoy their company. Having said that, though, I one day ventured in whilst the little bundles of murderous sting were out doing waspy things in the trees, or whatever it is that wasps do, and was quite astounded at their busy efforts.

Because their nest was a brilliant combination of outlandish colours one doesn't normally associate with insect-building.

I marvelled at the intricacy of nature that had created a mini work of art
The wasp was quite handy with paintbrushes

This structure was put together in space of a few days by a creature many of us call a 'pest', yet it had done so by doing a clever bit of recycling.

I wondered how on earth it had produced these colours, and watched them return a bit later - where they led me to their palette...

The wasps had created a nest out of an old banana box
The wasps' favourite material

It turned out to be a box, previously used to transport bananas, reused by me to transport my CDs from my old home and now re-used by these little insects as a material for their own home.

I couldn't help but marvel at the intricacy of nature that had rendered a utilitarian and disposable item into a mini work of art.

Later in the year, once the nest had been abandoned and I was at last able to get back on a bike without fear of being jabbed to death, I placed their creation on the grass outside where, after the first rain it simply melted away.

Wasps may be the insect equivalent of a pub turning out for the night, but they are surely one of the greatest recyclers in nature.

©Nick MacIneskar 2020