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We have a very strange looking nest in our loft. It almost looks like plastic. What can it be?

Sent in by Monica Munro

Quite a few creatures will use of roof space as a home, which in some cases can be great for them and us. Swifts, starlings and house sparrow are all great urban birds to have around and all find their way into roof space through gaps in the fittings or between tiles. The swift does not really build a nest other than laying a few feathers down which it grabs from mid air. Starlings and sparrows build messy nests from twigs and grass, usually in a recess or cavity. I think you can rule a bird out of the list of suspects!

If this plastic like nest were hanging from the beams then I would think it is the handy work of a wasp. The common wasp (vespa vulgaris) frequently builds its nest in roof cavities as well as underground burrows and tree cavities. The material the nest is made of is actually wood which has been chewed up by the wasp into a paper like material. The nest is usually cone shaped and can reach the size of a football. These structures are incredibly ornate and are truly amazing constructions for such a small creature to make.

Wasps do not have a great reputation, when they sting it can really hurt! However, before deciding to get rid of wasps and their nests, consider their role in the garden habitat. Wasps are active predators that feed their fast growing young on insects, many of which are garden pests that eat favourite flowers and produce. The wasps are therefore a brilliant form of biological control so should be left to their own devices if it is possible to do so.

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