Types of Paper Wasps With Pictures and Information


Identifying a paper wasp as a common residential visitor that provides potential benefits and harms to areas of the yard where it nests is basically all that the average homeowner need know in order to make a decision on whether the nest stays or goes.

So, for example, the video shows a group of wasps crawling around some live wasp larvae on a flat or umbrella shaped nest. Those are paper wasps. It’s also interesting to notice that the wasps are flapping their wings quickly in order to keep the nest cool during the heat of the day.

Removing the nest while it is being built, rather than waiting for nest to be completed and filled with wasps removes most of the threat to family members. Looking under the porch awnings and removing the nests with a broom during the spring should be enough to discourage the queen and drones from rebuilding.

Either way, it is necessary to remove the nest in order to remove the wasps.

Specialists watch paper wasp behavior and attempt to describe and explain their sociability. Typically people assume that a nest consists of a queen, drones and workers. One paper wasp research called Benefits of foundress associations in the paper wasp Polistes dominulus: increased productivity and survival, but no assurance of fitness returns, published in the journal Behavioral Ecology was interested in nest behavior when two queens were present. The paper concluded that sociality extends beyond that tradition concept of nest population.

Successful Polistes dominulus nests can be started by one or more nest founding queens (foundresses). Consequently, there is much interest in the specific benefits that induce cooperation among foundresses. Here, we experimentally demonstrate one major benefit of cooperation, namely that multiple foundresses increase colony productivity. This increase is close to the value predicted by subtracting the productivity of undisturbed single-foundress colonies from the productivity of undisturbed multiplefoundress colonies. However, we found no evidence that an associating foundress’ contribution to colony growth is preserved if she disappears (assured fitness returns).

The picture presentation provides some additional basic information covering representative species of North American paper wasps.

Paper Wasp Pictures

picture of a male Paper Wasp
Insect enthusiasts take the paper wasp world a step further, documenting the nineteen different native species, their ranges and behaviors.

Face color, for example, provides a gender identification clue across species. Males, like the one pictured at the top of the page, have yellow faces. Females have red faces.

picture of a European paper wasp on a pine tree, types of paper wasps
The European paper wasp (Polistes dominula) , the most wide ranging of all the types of paper wasps in the United States, was introduced by colonialists, and it has spread across the continent.

Sometimes they can be confused with yellow jackets because of the black and yellow bodies. The presence of a nest will be a good field ID clue because European paper wasps build flat, umbrella shaped nests and yellow jackets are ground nesters.

Two yellow dots on the top of the thorax are also good field identification clues in the absence of a nest.

picture of a Northern Paper Wasp
Another very wide ranging species, the Northern Paper Wasp (Polistes fuscatus), lives everywhere east of the Rocky Mountains. If researchers are on the right course, Northern Paper Wasps might all be able to recognize each other. According to a 2011 study called Specialized Face Learning Is Associated with Individual Recognition in Paper Wasps

Polistes fuscatus can differentiate among normal wasp face images more rapidly and accurately than nonface images or manipulated faces. A close relative lacking facial recognition, Polistes metricus, however, lacks specialized face learning. Similar specializations for face learning are found in primates and other mammals, although P. fuscatus represents an independent evolution of specialization.

picture of a paper wasp, polistes exclamens
The very colorful Polistes exclamans are common along the southern border and the eastern seaboard.

picture of paper wasp, polistes dorsalis

It’s fairly easy to confuse Polistes exclamans and Polistes dorsalis. They both have a series of yellow, black and red stripes on te absomen, and they share similar ranges. Odds are the wasps in the video are Polistes dorsalis.

picture of a polistes comanchus

Polistes comanchus are one of the more specialized species, having a range that covers the desert Southwest.

picture of a flower polistes major

Finally, Polistes major has the smallest range of the listed paper wasp species. They can be found in Arizona and Florida.