Nature on our doorsteps: On the hunt for sugar . . .
Adult wasps feed only on sugar from nectar and aphid honeydew.

Nature on our doorsteps: On the hunt for sugar . . .

In autumn, wasps appear to become much more inquisitive and persistent around us, causing panic for some people.

These wasps are not looking to sting us for no reason, however. They are simply on the hunt for sugar.

Adult wasps feed only on sugars. They sip nectar from flowers and lick aphid honeydew from leaves.

They are also hunters, however, which makes them an important part of the food chain.

They hunt for flies and other small insects and spiders and bring these back to their nests where they chew them into small pieces and feed them to their carnivorous larvae.

On being fed, the larvae produce a little drop of sugar which the adult eats.

This ‘bribe’ ensures that the adult wasp keeps returning with food.

Wasps themselves are also prey for other creatures like spiders

In the growing season, it also keeps the adult focused on hunting prey, and not bothering us.

This system falls apart in late summer, however, when the old queen dies and the newly mated queens leave the nest.

There are no more larvae to be fed, and there are no more sugary bribes for the workers. The wasps are also leaderless, and no longer have a focus.

This makes them very irritable.

The adults will try flowers for nectar for a while, but as there is usually much more sugar available around us when we eat and drink outdoors, they visit us instead.

As autumn progresses, the remaining wasps eventually die from starvation and cold.