Wasps are surprisingly complex insects. They are carnivores, preying on pest insects that are harmful to agriculture. Although they feed primarily on carbohydrates such as fruits and nectar, they capture insects and carry them back to the nest as a source of protein for the larvae. They will also carry back chunks of meat or fish, when available. The workers chew and condition this food for the larvae. This can be seen happening through the opening of the nest. Although it appears that the worker is eating a grub, it is conditioning the food for the larvae. In an amazing display of partnership, the larvae secrete a sugary substance that the workers feed on. As the food supply outside the nest diminishes in late summer, there is less for the larvae to eat and they secrete less of the sugars. The workers begin to forage more for fruits and human garbage as a result. Other wasps can be seen building additional layers on the nest. These workers chew on wood fiber that is mixed with saliva to produce a paper-like substance that is used to increase the size of the nest. The queen is a much larger wasp with black and white markings instead of yellow. She can be seen moving within the nest. She will continue to lay eggs rapidly and the larvae will pupate after 18-20 days. By the end of the summer, a nest may have 3,000 to 4,000 workers and more than 15,000 larvae cells. Wasps carry a potent venom and are capable of stinging multiple times. Understandably, people fear these insects and see them as a dangerous threat. In truth, wasps are beneficial to humans, keeping the populations of other harmful insects in check.
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