Paper Wasp Nest

We found this beautiful wasps’ nest this morning – in someone’s garden hedge. The kids thought the caps on the cells looked like tiny tennis balls. These are paper wasps (ashinaga-bachi) and they feed their young on chewed-up (= masticated) insects, especially caterpillars, so they are useful to have in the garden. I’ve also read that the wasp grubs produce a nutrient secretion which the adults feed on. Symbiosis between generations!

More information about paper wasps here at Wikipedia.

Polistes rothneyiPolistes rothneyiPolistes rothneyiPolistes rothneyiPolistes rothneyiPolistes rothneyiPolistes rothneyiPolistes rothneyi

Hymenoptera: Vespidae
Polistes rothneyi = ki-ashinaga-bachi (yellow paper wasp)
(literal translation = yellow long-legged wasp)

Location: Yokoyama Village
Google map: here

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3 Responses to Paper Wasp Nest

  1. reuben says:

    Hello! Thanks you very much for sharing this information with all of us! This is a great website and i have several questions regarding wild life in Japan. First, what kind of poisonous insects and animals can we find here in Japan? I recently move to a small town in Nagano from Tokyo so my rural knowledge is very limited. I was wondering if in Japan the ticks carry the bacteria that causes lyme disease… Do you know something about it? What kind of insects do we have to be more careful with here in Japan?
    I also realized that here in Japan some people eat inago and hachinoko. Do you of other insects that can be eaten? Just mere curiosity… thanks! Byt, nice photos! Cheers! reuben

  2. Nigel says:

    Hi Reuben.
    I’m glad that you like the site.

    There are some venomous creatures in Japan, but the chances of being harmed are very slight. Suzumebachi (hornets) are common and their sting is said to be terrible, but I’ve got up close to them several times without being attacked. I’m pretty sure there are no really deadly insects/spiders here. As for snakes, the habu in Okinawa is dangerous, as is the mamushi in the rest of Japan. These should be avoided (unless you want to take photos of course!!).

    I just found out that the deadly Australian red-backed spider is becoming established in some parts of Japan, and this is very worrying. Here’s a link to a ten-year-old BMJ article: http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/314/7092/1484/a

    Here’s a link to a Japanese Wikipedia article on Lyme Disease: http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%A9%E3%82%A4%E3%83%A0%E7%97%85

    It says that the disease can be contracted from tick bites in mountainous areas above 800m in Nagano and Hokkaido. Something else to be careful of.

    Insects to eat… I’ve heard that there are some restaurants here that sell things like deep-fried cockroaches, but I’ve never seen them myself. I know that some macho guys eat the grubs of hornets (hachinoko). It was quite common to eat grasshoppers during/after WW2, but only out of necessity. Actually, I ate them myself many years ago (just to try) – a bit like shrimp. Here are some interesting books for you: http://www.hollowtop.com/finl_html/insect_books.htm

    Thanks for your questions.
    Best wishes,
    Nigel

  3. Chelsea says:

    Thank you for this! I know it’s not necessarily intended to be an identification guide, but it’s certainly done wonders for me! I’ve recently moved to a town in Kagoshima on the southern part of Kyushu, and found some hornets in and around my house. Try as I may to identify them, I couldn’t find anything or anyone who could help (I’m from the United States, and don’t know much about the Japanese wildlife yet). I got a very good look at my hornets, particularly the two vertical yellow stripes on the back of the thorax. Nothing else I had seen possessed these stripes until I found your picture! I just wanted to tell you your site is incredibly helpful, and your pictures are wonderful! Thank you!

    ~Chelsea

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