Along with a whole range of insects, wasps have declined over the past few years.

At one time, those black and yellow tormentors were well known in late summer for pestering us at picnics and barging in on the barbeque, but not so much nowadays.

This spring I've been fascinated watching a queen wasp building her nest below my garden shed ceiling . As I write, she has completed an inner shell, furnished it with seven cells and laid her first eggs, seen as shiny grey in the photograph.

When the first  wasps mature they will help the queen enlarge the nest which eventually could reach the size of a football.

The queen builds by scarping pieces of wood from fence posts and the like then visits my garden pond for water to make a paper paste. As the nest grows, it will be made of different types of wood clearly seen as rings of varying brown shades.

Whatever we may think of wasps, they play a key role controlling unwanted insects with which to feed their grubs but sometimes kill beneficial ones too. Once I watched a large newly hatched dragonfly drying its wings attacked by a wasp which bit off the head and wings and together with other wasps chewed off chunks of abdomen.

On another occasion, a heavily armoured stag beetle was turned upside down by a wasp and after biting off the beetle's head legs and wing cases chewed off bits of the vulnerable underside .

Voracious waspish behaviour indeed!