Dead Bodies in the Attic

Posted by Nick  | 30 Mar 2015  | 1 comment

In one of our bedrooms we noticed part of the ceiling was crumbling. When we went to clean it up, a number of dead wasps tumbled down. How curious. An attic investigation was imminent.

When we crawled up there – holy crap. Monstrous wasp nests, the biggest we’ve ever found.

Okay, so that one is about the size of a golf ball. Not so big. Kind of cute. But turn around and – whoa!

That whopper is about the size of a rock melon. Luckily, the nests up here are dead – evidenced by the hundreds of wasp corpses littering the ceiling panels. Thankfully someone before us had the sense to exterminate them. A good sign for us attic explorers:

As if the above nest wasn’t unsettling enough, down the other end of the attic we spotted the source of the crumbly ceiling and falling dead bodies…

Yikes! We were more than relieved that these colonies had already been wiped out. I shuddered at the thought of making this discovery with a swarm of angry wasps attacking me in a confined space.

When I moved closer to remove the humongous hive with a knife, I heard buzzing… I immediately scampered out of there on all fours, terrified that the nest had been repopulated by some vagrant swarm. I had no choice but to investigate, so I fashioned myself a weapon (where’s a flame thrower when you need one?).

Okay, so a knife on a stick is a pretty useless defensive weapon against an army of wasps, but my main goal here was to prod the nest from afar and watch for any angry scouts that might emerge. I poked the monstrosity a couple of times. Nothing. Then I saw the source of the buzzing. A damn lone blowfly! Of course, my paranoia had got the better of me. I closed in and cut the huge nest free from the roof.

These nests are more fragile than you might expect. They look like hardened mud, but actually consist of wood fibre arranged in delicate paper-thin layers. I carefully extracted them and brought them out into the daylight for inspection and for Char to see.

Kind of looks like a large brain. If your sense of humour is as dry as mine, you might call it a hive mind.

They’re actually quite beautiful structures, don’t you think?

This one’s patterns remind me of planet Jupiter with its swirly orange storms:

This is the smallest, whose flaky exterior had fallen away to reveal the vacant larvae cells within:

I bisected the medium-sized one to see if there were cells to be found in it, too. Sure enough, a latticework of larvae incubators took up most of the interior.

Unfortunately the larger of the three had its interior missing, which disintegrated when I was removing it. I cut it open nonetheless out of curiosity. What once looked like a brain now looks like a pair of lungs.

Again, I can’t stress how relieved I was that these nests were unoccupied. It’s a mass grave up there, so when it comes time to renovate this place I’m sure we’ll have lots of fun taking down the ceiling beneath a shower of wasp carcasses.

With nothing to fear, this was actually a pretty cool find.

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Holy crap indeed! What amazing pieces of Nature’s architecture!

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