Scrapes on Cedar

I was tempted to make this a quiz, but anyone who bothered to look at the image filenames could pretty much see the answer, so I’ll go ahead and forgo that approach in this case.

I think it was in 2012 that I watched a yellow-jacket doing something on a wooden (probably cedar) lamp post that was untreated and unpainted. At first I was not sure what it was doing, but it returned more than once. Upon inspection, I saw little scrape marks in the wood and realized the insect was gathering building material for its nest. I have of course seen the paper nests that wasps make, and I knew in theory they were made out of wood (I think I have learned they mix with the wasp equivalent of saliva – but that might be an over simplification), but it had never occurred to me to think about where/how these insects actually got the wood. It seems that at least in some cases they utilize wood provided by humans. It doesn’t have any bark to deal with, and I imagine that’s a plus.

In any case, although I’ve not directly observed them doing so (my kids have) and can’t say what species has been around, clearly whatever species it is has made a fair use the exposed cedar I’ve provided in the form of support posts for a deck. Most of the posts have some evidence of scraping, though the one pictured has seen more visits than the others as far as I can tell.

I’ll leave you with this question to ponder – assuming there was no other source for decay or degradation of the wood, how long would it take for a post to be used up by these nest building wasps? (Perhaps someone can come up with a What if? style response and post it in the comments.)


About matt goff

I am an aspiring naturalist who seeks to learn all that I can about the more-than-human aspects of this place that is my home.
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2 Responses to Scrapes on Cedar

  1. Pingback: Yellow Jacket Nest | Sitka Nature

  2. Pingback: Yellow Jacket Gathering Wood Fiber | Sitka Nature

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