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GIANT BROWN PAPER WASP (Polistes gigas). I often get asked what these big wasps are..... This article is taken from my book, the BUGS OF HONG KONG. Only a few copies left....see the wildcreatures shop.

Unsurprisingly, giant brown paper wasps are much larger than the lesser paper wasps at up to 5 mm, with a distinctive dark brown body. Both of the paper wasps featured here get their name from the material they use to build their nests. These fearsome looking beasts prey mainly on large caterpillars but, despite their appearance, they are not aggressive— even near their nest site. However, I have read that the sting is extremely painful, with the swelling lasting up to eight hours, and the males have pronounced mandibles that can deliver a powerful bite. Our word for today is "petiole" which, in entomology, is the technical term for the narrow waist (nope sorry, the narrowing of the first abdominal segment— after its attachment to the thorax—waist is not used for insects) of some hymenopteran insects (especially ants, bees, and wasps) in the order Apocrita. This term can also refer to a constricted stalk, such as that which anchors the nest.

SEE THEM: Look for their nests in trees, bushes and on the side of buildings.

FASCINATING FACTS: Whilst the adults feed mainly on nectar, their larvae are carnivorous. The workers have to catch multiple insects every day to feed them.

This is a photo of a nest that I took in May. Paper wasps are eusocial insects with a caste system made up of workers, queens and males. Fertilised queens overwinter in protected spaces beneath tree bark, or in cracks and crevices in walls or other structures. When spring arrives, they select a nesting site, begin building a nest, and lay their eggs. In late summer, the queen stops laying eggs and the colony declines.


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