Paper Wasps

Subfamily: Polistinae

Paper wasps are a type of flying insect belonging to the family Vespidae, which includes a wide variety of wasps, hornets, and yellowjackets. They are commonly found in Central California and the California Bay Area. These social wasps are known for their distinctive nests made from chewed wood fibers mixed with saliva, giving them a papery appearance.

Identification and Behavior

Paper wasps are typically between 1 to 1.5 inches long and have slender, elongated bodies with narrow waists. They are often black or brown with yellow or red markings. There are several species of paper wasps, including the western paper wasp (Polistes dominula) and the European paper wasp (Polistes dominulus), which are prevalent in California.

Paper wasps are social insects that live in colonies consisting of a queen and workers. Unlike other wasp species, paper wasps are not aggressive and generally do not sting unless they feel threatened. However, when their nests are disturbed or they perceive a potential threat, they can become defensive and deliver painful stings.

Nesting Habits

Paper wasps build their nests in sheltered areas such as eaves, overhangs, and tree branches. The nests are formed by collecting and chewing wood fibers, which are mixed with saliva to create a papery material. Each nest consists of multiple cells where the wasps lay their eggs. As the colony grows, the nest expands, with new cells built adjacent to existing ones.

Ecological Benefits and Concerns

Paper wasps play an important role in the ecosystem as pollinators, aiding in the reproduction of various plant species. They also help control insect populations by preying on other pests such as caterpillars, aphids, and flies.

However, paper wasps can become a nuisance and pose a threat to human health, especially for individuals who are allergic to their stings. Their nests, when built in close proximity to human dwellings, can lead to encounters and potential stinging incidents. It is important to exercise caution when dealing with paper wasp nests and seek professional pest control assistance when necessary.

Prevention and Control

To prevent paper wasp infestations, it is advisable to seal any openings or cracks in buildings, as well as regularly inspect and remove potential nesting sites, such as old furniture or construction debris. If a paper wasp nest is discovered, it is best to hire a professional pest control company to handle the removal and treatment.

Do You Have Paper Wasps​?

Paper wasps are fascinating insects that contribute to the ecosystem by pollinating plants and controlling pest populations. However, their presence near human habitation can become a concern due to their defensive nature and potential for stings. Taking preventive measures and seeking professional assistance when needed can help manage paper wasp populations in Central California and the California Bay Area.

Need Help?
Call Killroy!

Scroll to Top