Wasps belong to the order Hymenoptera and the family Vespidae. They are closely related to bees and ants. They live together in groups called colonies. Well established nests may have two hundred or more wasps. Wasps use wood pulp and saliva to construct combs. Wasps are divided into two major castes, which are the reproductive and worker castes. Reproductive caste consists of a queen and drones. The queen is a fertile female and founder of the colony. Drones are fertile adult males from unfertilized eggs. On the other hand, worker caste consists of unmated females.
Caste structure of wasps’ social system is basically maintained through aggressive interactions amongst the colony members. In cases where the queen fails to maintain the colony and sustain her roles, another fertile female will take over the responsibility of laying eggs and maintaining the colony. As more eggs are laid by the queen, the colony continues to grow larger. Males develop from unfertilized eggs. The worker wasps feed the larvae, guard the nest and carry out other housekeeping chores. Wasps are known to be active all year round. New colonies are formed by swarming. In this case, a cluster of workers and a fertile queen leave the parent nest and start another new nest and colony.
Wasps are carnivores and they feed on flies, caterpillars, spiders and bugs. They store little or no food in their combs. This is because the meat they eat would spoil if stored. Wasps chew their prey and feed the paste to their larvae. In turn, nutritional syrup produced by larvae is consumed by adults. In some species of wasps, a paper envelope is constructed around the combs which serves as good insulation material and helps in maintaining good temperature condition in the nest. Wasps’ colonies have an excellent defense mechanism, which is stinging. Through stinging they can protect their nest and occupants, against possible dangers and predators.