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 Post subject: Dozy queen wasp
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2017 9:40 pm 
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I'm in Edinburgh, Scotland. have a dozy queen wasp that - due to the mild winter - became active enough today to fly up into the kitchen window. I guess she's been hibernating behind the sink or under the floorboard. (This is an old building.)

I have her in a large jar and have given her some diluted honey, after which she quickly became active. But what should I do now? Can I get her back to sleep somehow? She will surely die outside. Has this wakeful period broken her hibernation? Should I feed her again, then place her in my fridge, at 4deg C? Help!


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 Post subject: Re: Dozy queen wasp
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2017 11:54 am 
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If the weather is mild enough for her to fly then she should be able to find another hibernation spot. You could try to keep her in the fridge for another couple of months but this can be tricky. The biggest killer of inverts kept in fridges is dehydration, the air inside a fridge is very dry and it will dessicate unprotected inverts. She will need to be in a container with a very high level of humidity, I have found queen wasps hibernating in rotten stumps where the wood was so soft and wet you could squeeze water out of it by hand. I would get her torpid by putting her in a small box in the fridge, then when she is asleep put this container inside a a larger box containing very wet tissue paper or the like..


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 Post subject: Re: Dozy queen wasp
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2017 4:17 pm 
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Thank you Matt- that's very helpful!

This morning she looked dead so I placed a drop of diluted honey next to her and half an hour later she was active again. Evidently the temperature just now is right on her threshold.

I'm expecting that (as it's colder today and I don't heat my flat) she will become torpid again so that I can handle her. How does this sound:
- Put her in an open matchbox.
- Stuff the large jar with wet tissue paper.
- Put the matchbox inside that and put the lid on tightly.
- Put the jar in the fridge.
- Make a note in my diary to review the setup in March.


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 Post subject: Re: Dozy queen wasp
PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2017 2:05 pm 
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Sounds like it might work. I'd be interested to hear how you get on.


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 Post subject: Re: Dozy queen wasp
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2017 1:59 am 
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She was dormant again in the morning so very gently I put her in a small cardboard box with an opening about 20mm square. I stuffed the bottom 2/3 of the big jar with wet kitchen roll, laid the box on top of it and screwed the lid on. Because I didn't want to thermally shock her I put the whole assembly in my unheated front room, under the always-open window.

When I investigated this morning, she had (despite her stupor) managed to crawl out of the box and park herself upside down between the box and the tissues, right up against the glass.

I thought at first that I should put her back in the box but then I remembered what you said about humidity. It is possible that she instinctively moved to this location because she was searching for moisture? Either that or she seeks a tight spot that feels secure.

At any rate, she goes into the fridge tonight. Then I can be sure that if the weather warms up she won't become active and seek food that isn't there.

I will update you in March!


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 Post subject: Re: Dozy queen wasp
PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 11:22 pm 
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Matt and anyone else who's interested: I'm sorry to say she didn't make it. At least I tried.

She looked fine for several weeks but towards the end of February, on one of my weekly inspections, I noticed she had moved from her perch next to the glass and was lying on the damp tissue a couple in inches away. She had not stowed her legs or wings properly and to be honest she looked dead. Nevertheless I took her gingerly out of the jar and put her in a wasp-sized crevice in the kitchen, with a damp tea bag for a lid. Nearby I placed a small plastic cap full of diluted honey. But she never stirred and although I've seen several other queens moving about this week, I am sure she is dead.

I don't know what the problem was, or why she moved from her perch. Too wet? Too cold? Not enough oxygen? Something odious leaching out of the box? If anyone has any clues please do say.

Last weekend I managed to rescue and release a queen from a neighbour's sugar basin, and hopefully she at least will go on to nest.


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