Corby, England — A UK homeowner has discovered a wasps’ nest described as “colossal” by a representative from a pest control company.
Exterminator Gary Wilkinson of Pest Professionals of Peterborough, England, says of the enormous nest,
“It’s the biggest I’ve ever seen by quite a margin,”
Wilkinson was originally summoned to the property to exterminate woodworm, the worm or larva of a wood-boring beetle that can infest any wooden structure. As Wilkinson was dealing with the woodworm, the homeowner — who has requested anonymity — called him to look at the nest in the attic.
“It’s an impressive wasp nest,” recalls Wilkinson, “much bigger than a barrel.”
The nest was more than three feet wide.
In addition to building this nest, the wasps had constructed a tunnel into the attic from outside of the home. It’s rare for wasps to create such a tunnel, which in this case was nearly five feet long.
Both the nest and tunnel were fabricated using a paper-like material made of tree bark and wood from fences near the property. In a process somewhat similar to making papier mache, wasps produce “paper” by harvesting wood fibers, using water and their own saliva to break down the fibers, chewing the fibers until they become a pulp, and finally sculpting a structure using more of their saliva.
Wilkinson says the nest might at one time have housed as many as 10,000 wasps. The average large nest, he reports, is “the size of a large football” and contains fewer than 4,000 insects.
From the exterminator’s point of view, the insects created a work of art. “Although you wouldn’t want it in your own loft, you have to say it’s impressive and in its own way a very beautiful thing,” Wilkinson acknowledged.
CNN contacted the famed British Natural History Museum in London for information about this enormous wasp structure. “Sometimes wasps just build on surfaces around the nest like this,” responded a museum spokesperson.
“The ‘tunnel’ won’t be used for rearing young,” the spokesperson continued, adding, “I doubt it will be used as an entrance/exit either but it might conceivably be an extension of the original entrance hole.”
Fortunately for both the property owner and the exterminator, the wasps had abandoned their home, probably about a year earlier. Hundreds of dead insects were found near the nest, but no living wasps were discovered. As Wilkinson puts it, the nest had “gone to its full life-cycle” before being abandoned. The property, which was being renovated at the time of the nest’s discovery, had been empty for several years and so was not inhabited when the wasps were present and active.
The website for Pest Professionals points out that colonies of wasps,
“can cause serious alarm when present in larger numbers or when colonies are close to humans” and “wasps react aggressively to being disturbed and can attack in swarms.”
Wilkinson admits that had the nest still been active,
“We’d certainly not be that close to something that size — even in a bee suit — if we thought it was still being used.”