Escanaba woman surprised by influx of new neighbors

ESCANABA – Catherine Plank of Escanaba has new neighbors – hundreds of them in fact.

A colony of wasps has set up residence in a small wooden birdhouse decoration hanging from a lilac tree just inches from her front porch.

Although Catherine said the tiny birdhouse has been hanging for several years, this is the first time that it has been inhabited by anything.

“I noticed them in the early spring,” she said. “I was surprised because the house is just a decoration and not even intended as a birdhouse.”

Observing them, it appears that the wasps enter and exit via a small hole in the front of the birdhouse. But dozens of them can be found crawling on the sides and roof of the little structure.

Although wasps have a negative reputation as nasty stingers, Catherine said she is frequently out in her yard watering her lush garden plants, and even ventures close to the lilac tree and the birdhouse, but has never been stung. Nor has she even been bothered by any of her winged neighbors. Even the dozens of chickadees and finches that enjoy her garden – particularly the lilac bushes – don’t seem intimidated by the wasp invaders.

While most people think of wasps as pests, they actually are a benefit to mankind and the environment by helping to control the population of flies, caterpillars, bugs, spiders, and other insects.