Odds and quads

This wasps' nest was once home to a large colony of common wasps (Vespula vulgaris).

March 10, 2011

At the time it was extracted from the roof of a Cambridge house in 1981, it was believed to be the largest ever found in Britain.

The nest was supported by roof beams in the attic of the property, and will have produced as many as 26,000 adult wasps in total, with a peak of about 5,000 at any one time.

All were the offspring of one queen, which started to build the nest at about the beginning of May. The entire nest was built over one season, and - as with all wasp nests - was abandoned at the end of the year and never used again.

The nest is now on display at the University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge.

Send suggestions for this series on the treasures, oddities and curiosities owned by universities across the world to: matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com.

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