Sprayable circular wallpaper made from abandoned wasp nests

Paper is often used as an environmentally friendly substitute material, but currently still requires monocultures and a high consumption of energy and chemicals. Vespapier uses an alternative source of cellulose for paper: wasps produce Vespapier in forests in a system-sensitive way or utilise waste wood. The insects build new nests every year and leave them before winter. To do this, they collect and shred the plant cellulose, which is then processed into cellulose fibres using significantly less energy and without chemicals. If they have dyed fibres available, they even produce coloured nests. Abandoned nests are collected and shredded. Using a spraying process, the moistened fibres are turned into a lively-looking wallpaper. Wasp-specific additives give the wallpaper water-repellent properties.

student:Mareike Galle

The Insect Project
– Resilience Part I

In the production of Vespaper, the wasps are provided with waste wood and paper. At the end of autumn, their abandoned nests are harvested and shredded. The concept shows three ways of cultivating wasps: First, as a wasp forest, in which a suitable number of wasp colonies live and produce a nest every year. Different species can be combined here as long as the ecosystem can tolerate it.
Second, living freely in industrial sites. Many wasp species are not aggressive. In production sites such as industrial estates that specialize in metal production, they can build their nests under the roofs. Automated production facilities help them to have even less contact with humans. Only when the nests are abandoned are they harvested. It should be noted that wasps also collect cellulose and prey several kilometres away. Farms with dried wood will have problems with wasps in the immediate vicinity.
Third, if the wasps are kept in wasp farms, the colour of their nests can be controlled. The farms consist of isolated areas, from which the insects cannot get in or out. In addition to food, they are provided with colour-sorted waste paper and wood. Each colony has access to one colour so that their nests are as uniformly coloured as possible. The native species do not need heat or controlled daily cycles.
The collected nests are dry and mechanically shredded until cellulose flakes are produced from them. This step requires significantly less energy and waste water than shredding and boiling wood. Standard machines are used for shredding, which can also be used for the production of waste paper fibres in paper recycling yards. The dry fibres are stored and transported in sacks. The wallpaper is applied with compressed air by trained but non-specialised craftsmen. The machines can be carried by one or two people. It is recycled as an addition to new Vespaper or added to the waste paper together with the non-recyclable core of the nest.

To spray using the CSO method, compressed air is connected to a container and mixed with the cellulose fibres. When sprayed out, they are moistened with water and stick to the wall. The method originates from building insulation with cellulose fibres, which are made from waste paper. In comparison, much finer nozzles are required for Vespaper. Spraying creates a lot of dust and takes about a day to dry. Whilst the wallpaper is still wet, it is pressed down with a pattern roller. It is not bleached or subsequently coloured. The intense colours, despite being produced by animals, come from sorted waste paper or wood. The mixing of the cellulose in the wasps’ mouths always gives it a slight grey tinge. It is therefore not possible to produce a pure white colour, but this is not the aim either. As no glue or other substances are added, the Vespaper can later be removed from the walls and shredded again. To do this, it must be thoroughly soaked. It is recycled as an addition to new Vespaper or added to the waste paper together with the non-recyclable core of the nest.
Vespaper should not replace all paper, because too many wasps will overwhelm any ecosystem, especially when kept in forests. There is another way of producing paper to avoid monocultures that threaten insect species in particular.