With the trees bare, it’s easy to spot nests like these around the Garden. There’s one good specimen on a small flowering cherry tree, just downhill from Lily Pool Terrace near the big pagoda trees. This nest was built by bald-faced hornets using a substance similar to paper pulp, made by scraping and chewing wood. Look closely and you can see subtle variations in color from the different types of wood used. The nest is safe to look at up close because these wasps do not survive winter. The queen hornet is the only survivor from the hive. She hibernates elsewhere, nestled inside a tree or log. However, there may be squatters who have chosen this well-constructed shelter as their winter home. Other insects and spiders will often spend the winter cozied up deep inside abandoned wasp nests.
Kids can get outside to explore more incredible plant and animal strategies on our Winter Survival Nature Walks for 8- to 12-year-olds, February 9.