Paper Wasps

Polistes SPP.
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What do paper wasps look like?

paper wasp building wasp nest on tucson house

Paper wasps in Arizona are reddish-brown to dark brown; they have some yellow spots. The have slender builds with long, thin legs, smoky colored wings, and are about an inch long. 

Life cycle of paper wasps

Complete metamorphosis

Workers, queens, and males act to achieve colony survival. Mated females construct aerial nests in the spring. The nest has horizontal tiers of cells in an umbrella-shaped paper-like nest. The most aggressive female lays an egg per cell leaving the remaining female to take over the role of worker.  The queen feeds the larvae when they hatch until they are ready to pupate. The cells are then covered with silk. More female workers emerge and spend the summer tending to the food collection, nest construction, and caring for the queen. Only mated females will live through the winter.

Habits of paper wasps

  • Diet: Eat small insects during summer and flower nectar during the fall.
  • Activity: Inactive during winter months.
  • Preferred Climate: Temperate climates.
  • Defense: Sting if feel threatened.
  • Cautions: Will sting multiple times. Some people have allergic reactions to these stings.
  • Home Invasion: Paper wasps will make nests under decks, eaves, near vents, rafters, shutters, playground equipment, and tree branches

Are paper wasps dangerous?

A wasp sting can cause a life-threatening allergic reaction in some people. 

Where do paper wasps build nests

Paper wasps often construct nests in sheltered areas, such as door frames, window sills, and eaves of houses. 

Helpful hints for paper wasps

Try following these paper wasp prevention tips:

  • Avoid loud noises close to nest sites.
  • Do not approach nest sites.
  • If wasp activity is found, call for pest control service.
  • Avoid wearing bright colors, perfume or aftershave

Interesting facts about the paper wasp

Paper wasps have been attributed to causing many car accidents.  If one is in your car, slowly pull off the road, and open car doors and windows.  DO NOT PANIC!

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