Taking photos at lunchtime I was amazed at the huge numbers of wasps getting the last slurps of nectar from a shrubbery of Fatsia japonica. Dozens of wasps (either the German or the common wasps – I was unwilling to get close enough to confirm which) were speeding in, ignoring the other flies and insects feeding up large, and then heading away at high speed. German wasps have three dots on their ‘face’, common wasps do not. The dots are small, and it’s probably best if you don’t spend too much time looking at live specimen.
I’ve seen a few wasps in the Tea Garden – I think I’ll take the Victorian approach and use a wasp trap. In this case I don’t have one of the elegant glass wasp traps handy, instead I’ll make it in our century, and build one from a PET bottle. The basic approach is to cut the bottle about 2/3 up, and after removing the lid, invert the ‘funnel’ into the remaining 2/3 of the bottle. Assuming it all fits nicely, smear some jam on the outside of the funnel, and place the funnel back into the bottle. Run some waterproof tape around the edge, and half fill the bottom of the bottle with some soapy water. The wasps smell the jam, and enter down the funnel. They get confused and most find it difficult to get out. They fall in the water, and the soap breaks the surface tension and the wasps drown. Ideally the traps are positioned about a metre off the ground. Over a period of time (quite a short period if there are lots of wasps) the bottle fills and the wasps walk around on their floating nestmates. Empty and start again.