Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
October 8, 2020 ·  2 min read

When Wasps Are Given Colored Paper, They Build Rainbow Nests

Wasps are known for being aggressive, but did you know they are also quite artistic? A student in Italy did an experiment with wasps and colored paper, which resulted in the insects building rainbow nests. This is how they do it.

Wasps Build Rainbow Nests

Italian biological science student Mattia Menchetti performed an experiment with non-aggressive paper wasps while studying at the University of Florence. The experiment involved slowly introducing different sheets of colored paper to the wasps to see what they would build with it. (1)

He first gave them sheets of yellow paper, and then slowly began giving them different shades, one-by-one. The result is gorgeous rainbow nests that serve as brightly colored homes for their larvae. (2)


Read: A Comprehensive Guide to Yellow Stripey Things

How They Do It

Paper wasps build their nests by secreting chewing on wood or paper products. The chewing plus secretions from their bodies soften the pulp so that they can use it to construct their nests. (1) The wasps have a special protein in their saliva that not only makes their nest sturdy but also completely waterproof. (2)

Paper wasps’ nests are so sturdy and so waterproof, in fact, that their saliva protein was used to waterproof an eco-drone designed by students from Stanford and Brown Universities in collaboration with scientists from the NASA Ames Research Center. (4)

The photos, of course, are absolutely stunning.

Other Interesting Insects

Some beekeepers in France also had an unexpectedly colorful surprise when their bees started producing blue and green honey. As it turns out, the bees were collecting sugar from M&M shells at a nearby waste-processing plant. (3)

Understandably so, the beekeepers were unable to sell that honey and filed an angry complaint against the company. (1)

What do you think? Would you let a paper wasp build a brightly colored home on your front porch?