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What Are These Wasps Doing?

Twice recently I've noticed wasps in the garden, carrying little bits of leaf which looked like they'd been cut from a plant. This morning, one was sitting on my washing, carefully working its leaf round and round, as if shaping it.

Suddenly, wasps are starting to look slightly less like simple fly-and-sting misery grenades..

But what were they doing? Can anyone shed light..?


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,148
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • Thanks Dovefromabove!

    I've heard of leafcutter bees and have now had a look at a few photos. Trouble is, they look like.. well, bees. Orange and fluffy and all that. Whereas the critters I saw (and I got very close) were either wasps, or doing a jolly good impression.

    Do wasps ever collect or cut bits of vegetation for anything?

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,148

    Wasps rasp wood to make the paper to make their nests - I'm not aware of any wasps that cut leaves, and google doesn't reveal any either.

    There are several different varieties of leafcutter bees in the UK.  I'll put money on the insects you've seen being leafcutter bees image

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • Thanks. What you say does make sense.

    Just wish I'd had the nous to take a photo. I'll keep an eye out..

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,148

    In a previous house I had a studio in the garden and the roof beams were old and a little soft - I found leafcutter bees flying in and out of the studio while I was working there with the doors open - they were lining 'tunnels' in the roof beams with cut circles of rose leaf, and laying their eggs in there.  We couldn't re-roof the studio until the following year when the baby bees had hatched and moved on image

    If you watch out for the bees you may be able to follow them and see where they're taking their pieces of leaf image

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • That's lovely, Dovefromabove!


    One of the bees spent ages, while sitting on my favourite white shirt on the washing line, honing his trophy. It will probably take me some time to get the small green smear out..

  • Steve 309Steve 309 Posts: 2,753

    Apart from August/September when they have nothing else to do except annoy you on a picnic, wasps are jolly useful.  In the spring and early summer they take lots of caterpillars and other (usually herbivorous) larvae to feed their young, and in doing so, reduce the numbers of pests eating out cabbages and what have you.

    Not 'fly-and'sting misery grenades' at all, IMHO!

    But if you wave your arms around at them they will perceive you as a threat and sting you!

  • You're right, of course, Steve309. But unlike other insects, all the good stuff wasps get up to is backstage. When I encounter wasps, it's always at a picnic. I don't wave my arms, I flee.

    And no-one can convince me it's never personal. One once lay in wait for me; every time I returned to the picnic, there it was, sniggering. It only left me alone when I put a jersey on over my orange top. They seem obsessed with orange.

    But I digress.. image


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