Friday, 31 July 2009

Insect Vandals

Do you get damage to your wooden posts and fence panels? Do you see lighter coloured stripes on darker wood like these?

Wood Damage

On a quiet, still Summers day you may hear a distinct scraping sound. More than likely it will be one of these helping itself to some of your wood.

Wasp Collecting Wood Fibres

I have often heard and seen wasps stripping the top layer of wood fibres to turn into a pulp which they use to build their nests. They seem to use the same few favoured spots and in the past I could see where my old oak fence had been thinned over the thirty years it had been in place.

Recently I have seen bumble bees apparently resting on fence panels in the Sun and assumed they were resting and warming up but this morning as I watched one buff tailed bumblebee I got the impression it was also gathering wood fibres.

Bee Collecting Wood Fibers

I though I could hear it scraping at the surface but that may have been my imagination as there was a lot of background noise at the time and the wood is too new to see any evidence.


  1. Yes! I know exactly the noise you describe. I was trying to track down this strange noise for months last year, eventually found a wasp gnawing away at the wooden beads on my fly curtain! The noise carries like a grasshopper or cicada!

  2. Hi John
    Thanks for your recent visit and alerting me to your brilliant blog in the process
    Fantastic image of the bee, I am envious of the sharpness of the image
    The wasps around here strip wood from my trellis and shed and I often see the tell tale signs and hear the rasping sounds
    I have wasp nests in the hedges and solitary wasp nests hanging inside the shed, adding insult to injury.
    As Arnie said"I'll be back"

  3. Hi Matron. A few years ago when I first investigated the was rasping I was amazed it could be heard right across the garden. They have no respect for other peoples property.

  4. Hi Prof. A.B.Y. Many thanks for visiting. I saw your comment on another blog re taking multiple shots which is what I did with the bee and the wasp, The sunlight was so bright there was no problem with 'shutter' speed but depth of field was very limited. Probably 75pc were at least partly out of focus but luckily a few were sharp.
    I occasionally get a nest in the front hedge. It can be quite a hazard walking through their regular flight path as they don't easily give way.

  5. Hi John
    Know what you mean
    Until last year I had a wigwam willow right outside my door, which I was reluctantly forced to cut down.
    It attracted all sorts of insects which Wasps would prey upon. I would watch in fascination. Then the Hornets would come and prey upon the Wasps.
    I need specs to read, but often don't have them to hand, when I need them, especially when I need the camera. I generally take up to 200 photos before I get a handful of gems.
    That is the beauty of digital photography. It costs nothing to snap away merrily and you can edit immediately before losing the opportunity for a re-take.
    I have never been afraid of Wasps or Bees etc but last year I stood on a Hornet in my shoe left in the porch and the pain was quite exquisite.
    I had the biggest and bluest and most painful toe in Christendom for a fortnight. I don't know what I would have done without antihistamines.

  6. Hey John excellent shots of these wee lovely little creatures. Yes I have trails all over my wood at home...and when I'm outside reading I can definatly here the scraping of the wood....expecially if there is more than one wasp doing it. Great post as always

  7. Thank you Crista. It takes a few years but the little devils can do some damage to fencing panels, especially the modern ones woven with thin slats of wood.

  8. This is fascinating. I've never noticed anything like this in my garden so later today I shall be carrying out inspections along the fences and the wood of the summerhouse!

    That's a dramatic moth (Magpie Moth) in your previous post John and good capture too. Sounds as though Honey is really getting used to you; as Keith says, you could have her eating out of your hand ere too long :)

    (Just catching up on my fav blogs!)

  9. Hi Tricia. I first noticed the wasp activity some years ago when the village was a much quieter place. The sound was quite loud in the stillness.

    In spite of myself it is a beauty of a moth - as long as it stays outside where it belongs :)

    I do get a bit worried though that Honey is getting too used to handouts, she has got to learn to fend for herself to some extent.

    Catching up does become a problem some times with so many interesting blogs to read.

  10. Excellent post John, more people will be on the look out for evidence now too. I’ve never heard them myself but I too have seen evidence a few years ago when we had newer wood. I saw wood bees near but never noticed wasps. Brilliant photos :-D

    Now… may I set you a video challenge (no deadline) to capture the sound of the bee or wasp at work ;-)

  11. Hi Shirl. Thank you. Funny you should mention a challenge as only this morning I wished I had taken the camcorder out yesterday when the wasps were busy. Too windy today for sound and few wasps.

  12. Well that was fascinating and I'm ashamed to say not something I was aware of before, if it ever stops raining I shall investigate the fence!

  13. Hi Jan. No need to be ashamed. I used to think the paler patches were natural until I saw the wasps in action. I presume it is easier work for them on nice rows of fencing rather than dead and broken branches.

    Hope Sunday is as sunny as they forecast. It is looking better at the moment after yesterdays deluge. I wonder if Noah has sold all his tickets yet :)


Thank you for visiting. Hope you enjoyed the pictures. Any comment, or correction to any information or identification I get wrong, is most welcome. John

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