by Sriraksha Bhagavan – I believe that there is nothing more fascinating than to observe these tiny little engineers in nature. These tiny little engineers have a complex yet highly efficient system that will never ‘crash’ or ‘shut-down’ due to the unavailability of any modern technology.
I found these ‘Paper Architects’ on my staircase railings, they are the common Indian paper wasps (Ropalidia marginata), and they are eusocial and build their nest by chewing wood pulp and mixing it with their saliva. Unlike honeybees they do not have castes distinguishable by common physical characteristics.
While I was observing the cells of this nest I found different stages of development, what fascinated me was the wasp had kept its young ones in a much organised manner, the eggs were placed singly in each cell and at the bottom were the youngest and new eggs and on the top were the developing pupae. One of the females was very watchful and was patrolling the nest from top to bottom.
Even though I was very close to their nest, the wasps were tolerant to my presence, and went about their business without stinging me!!