Nests of paper wasps are made of paper‑like material, created from wood and hardening saliva.

Paper wasp building nest

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Nest of the paper wasp (polistes biglumis).

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Paper wasp (Polistes biglumis) on nest

“Three animals, for instance, have independently invented the making of paper. Paper wasps use small particles of wood gnawed off from trees and wood posts as their raw material, and they mix these fibres with their hardening saliva.” (Pallasmaa 1995:20)


“Three animals, for instance, have independently invented the making of paperSome termites also make paper from wood particles, but they use their saliva or excreta as a cement to make a substance that resembles carton.” (Pallasmaa 1995:20)

“Nest architecture of the arboreal Neotropical termites Nasutitermes acajutlae (Holmgren) and N. nigriceps (Haldeman) is described, with special reference to carton inclusions or nodules found within the normal gallery matrix of some nests. Nutrient analyses of these nodules show that they have high and low cutin concentrations in comparison to normal nest carton. These data support the hypothesis that the nodule inclusions serve as a form of facultative food storage in some nests of these termite species. These cases appear to represent a rare situation in which food is not stockpiled or cultured by termites, but rather some partially processed, masticated food is incorporated into the nest matrix for future consumption…Unlike most termites, many species of Nasutitermes build arboreal carton nests composed of wood and salivary and fecal fluids (Light 1933), and occasionally other materials such as sand (Thorne & Haverty, pers. obs.). Most other nest-building termites build mounds on the ground (e.g., Emerson 1938), but nesting in trees has enabled species of Nasutitermes and several other genera to colonize and exploit a new habitat.” (Thorne et al. 1996:27-28)

Last Updated May 1, 2020