Curiousity Hopefully Wont Get Me Stung
Mon, Mar 9, 2009 at 12:18 PM
Hello and thanks for taking time to help me out. Just this morning I realized Ive got quite a build-up of new ‘friends’ on the roof of my house. I found out about them from my crazy husband and his friend who were out having a cigarette. They came running in quickly, afraid of the evil bugs lol. Between my husband and son im the big bad bug killer because they are both highly creeped out by the creepy crawlies. Never bothered me. But back to the main event….
I went to check these, what I believe to be wasps, out and ive been searching all morning on what kind they could be. They are quite large for any wasp ive ever seen. Their bodies appear to be hard and are a darker red tent. The wings appear to be either a crimson purple or a black tent. Antennae are straight and black.
Me being the curious person I am I stood out there for awhile to watch them for a bit. I might be wrong but I think they are doing some sort of strange mating thing. One or more will wait for another to come and ‘clean’ their head by, what appears to be, bitting on it. Then once they’ve done this for a moment , both parties back off and clean and rub on themselves almost as if applying a lubricant of some sort.
Again, im no expert and these are just theories of my observations. I snapped a few pics as best I could with the lack of good zoom on my camera.
I would love to know what this species is and definately if they are something that needs to be taken care of immediately due to my small child. Thanks for everything!
Little Rock, Arkansas
Dear Curious Mind,
These look to us like Red Wasps, Polistes carolina. Wasps in the genus Polistes are known as Paper Wasps and though they are not aggressive, they can sting if their nest is disturbed. Paper Wasps chew wood pulp into a material used to build the nest. We suspect they are attracted to the exposed wood beneath the peeling paint on your roof. It is possible that the nest is in the eaves of the house since BugGuide indicates: “This species may prefer to nest in very sheltered locations, such as hollow trees–this should be investigated.” A similar species with the same range is Polistes perplexus, also pictured on BugGuide. In our opinion, these Red Wasps pose no threat to your small child, but the wasps will protect their nest.
Update: Sat, Mar 14, 2009 at 6:08 PM
Thanks very much for responding and especially finding out what they are. Im very relieved to know that these arent agressive by nature. I think it will put us all at ease. Now Im not so eager to call someone to get rid of them. They have to have a home someplace also. And there’s enough room for everyone to keep peace. I hate to kill things if there’s no need. Thanks once again and keep up the awesome work!!
Ed. Note: April 11, 2011. We have gotten so many comments of first hand accounts of aggressive Red Wasps that we feel compelled to withdraw our statement that the Red Wasps pose no threat. Something is making Red Wasps angry with the human presence. Perhaps this is a newly introduced species or subspecies that is more aggressive than the native species. For whatever reason, it seems Red Wasps may be initiating attacks that do not directly result from a threatened nest.