Paper Wasp

Polistes sp.

Paper wasps are social insects, who build nests of grey papery material around the home often under eaves, or in vegetation.

Paper Wasp
Color Varies with Species
Legs 6
Shape Oval with smoky black wings flat in the resting position
Size ¾" - 1" inch long
Antennae True

HABITS

Paper wasps are semi-social insects and colonies contain three castes: workers, queens and males. Fertilized queens, which appear similar to workers, overwinter in protected habitats such as cracks and crevices in structures or under tree bark. In the spring they select a nesting site and begin to build a nest. Eggs are laid singly in cells and hatch into legless grub-like larvae that develop through several stages (instars) before pupating. In late summer, queens stop laying eggs and the colony soon begins to decline. In the fall, mated female offspring of the queen seek overwintering sites. The remainder of the colony does not survive the winter.

HABITAT

Nests are built from wood fiber collected from posts and occasionally from live plant stems, causing some plant damage. This fiber is chewed and formed into a single paper-like comb of hexagonal cells. Nests are oriented downward and are suspended by a single filament. Mature nests contain up to 200 cells. Paper wasps prey on insects such as caterpillars, flies and beetle larvae which they feed to larvae. They actively forage during the day and all colony members rest on the nest at night.

THREATS

Nests commonly occur around the home underneath eaves, in or on structures and plants; wasps attack when the nest is disturbed and each can sting repeatedly; stings typically cause localized pain and swelling, but in sensitive individuals or when many stings occur whole body effects can occur including allergic reactions that may result in death.

PREVENTION

Wasps can be found on flowers, particularly in late fall. Paper wasp nests can be dislodged from eaves using sprays of high pressure water from a good distance, taking precautions not to allow wasps to attack nearby people or pets. Wasps will eventually abandon the nest.