Nature with Nik Mitchell: Is there a queen in your loft?

Queen wasp Photo Nik Mitchell

If you’ve been up in the loft this winter (maybe putting the Christmas decorations away) you may be lucky enough to find a queen wasp that’s hiding out.

Although wasps generally have a bad reputation, these insects are actually very beneficial to us humans. They provide us with pollination services and help control pest populations. They prey on a variety of pest species, such as greenfly, other flies, beetles and caterpillars.

In the winter there is often only one survivor of a wasp colony and that is the queen. Most colonies die out in the winter due to lack of food. Surviving queens like to find somewhere dry and warm to spend the winter in a state of dormancy called diapause where they stop feeding and remain inactive until the spring arrives.

It’s actually quite common to find them in lofts and sheds. This is also a great opportunity to take a closer look and show youngsters a wasp up close.

Many queens don’t survive so if you’re lucky enough to find one hibernating, leave her alone, enjoy a close look and come spring she’ll emerge, head out and find somewhere to build her house and start her family.


Thanet nature expert Nik Mitchell runs the Get Wild page on facebook