Where Do Wasps Get the Paper They Use to Build Their Nests?
Paper wasps, build small, umbrella-shaped nests under eaves and overhangs. They actually make their own building materials by turning raw wood into paper pulp.
A wasp queen begins the building process by selecting a suitable site for a nest. She then searches for sources of wood fiber, such as trees, logs, fences, and even cardboard. Using her strong jaws, the queen scrapes off bits of wood fiber to use.
With a mouthful of wood fibers, the queen uses the saliva in her mouth to break down the wood fibers until they form a soft paper pulp. She then flies her mouthful of paper pulp to her chosen building site to begin construction of the nest.
Worker wasps help to form the soft paper pulp into multiple hexagonal cells. As the pulp dries, it forms a sturdy paper nest where young wasps will be born and develop. Some wasps may also use mud to strengthen their nest structure. As a wasp colony continues to grow, the queen and her workers continue to add hexagonal cells to the nest to accommodate new wasps.
Although made out of paper, wasp nests are sturdier than you might expect. Nevertheless, they will decompose naturally over the course of the winter, due to weather and other factors. That means that each spring a queen wasp must choose a new nesting site and start the nest-building process all over again.