Currently viewing the category: "Paper Wasps"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Evil Looking Wasp

Location: Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
November 10, 2014 2:23 pm
Hi There,
We are on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica and are planning on moving into a new apartment. These wasps were seen building a nest on one of the poles, and I’m just wondering
a) what are they?
b) is their sting as painful as it looks?
c) how would we exterminate them?
Thanks so much!
Signature: Concerned in Costa Rica

Warrior Wasps build new nest

Warrior Wasps build new nest

Dear Concerned in Costa Rica,
Regarding c):  We do not provide extermination advice.  We thought your wasps looked like Paper Wasps in the genus
Polistes, and following that lead, we came to the Photo Gallery of Eusocial Paper Wasp Genera and Research page where Polistes atterimus (Monteverde, Costa Rica) is described as being “mimics of Synoeca septentrionalis,” so we followed up on that species and genus.  Of the genus, we learned on the same page, the Photo Gallery of Eusocial Paper Wasp Genera and Research, that “These wasps are infamous for their painful stings and ferocious colony defense. When mildly disturbed, they produce an ominous rushing sound, with synchronous rhythm, by rubbing against their corrugated nest paper. Watch out.”  We found an image of Synoeca cyanea on FlickR of the start of a new colony that looks remarkably like your image.  Though we typically do not quote from Wikipedia, we did learn there that members of the genus Synoeca, “Commonly known as warrior wasps or drumming wasps, these insects are known for aggressive behavior, a threat display consisting of multiple insects guarding a nest beating their wings in a synchronized fashion, and an extremely painful sting. Synoeca is one of only three insect types (the others being the bullet ant and the tarantula hawk) to receive a rating of 4 or higher on insect sting pain indices such as the Schmidt sting pain index.”  That takes care of your questions a) and b), and we found further support on the Vespa bicolor page where it states of the genus Synoeca:  “These wasps are known for their aggression, and also for their extremely painful stings (possibly most painful of any social wasps!) Upon any threat near the nest, the workers are able to produce sound by “drumming” on or rubbing against the inner surface of the nest envelope. If the disturbance continues, the wasps rush out and sometimes pursue the intruder for long distances.”

Thank you very much for the information. I have passed it along to my landlord :)

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Wasp?
Location: Brigantine, New Jersey, USA
August 20, 2014 1:30 pm
Hi,
I wonder if you can help me out with the id of this one?!
Signature: Kristian

European Hornet???

Male Northern Paper Wasp

Hi Kristian,
Though the coloration is dark, especially on the abdomen, this looks like a European Hornet to us.  We have requested a second opinion.
This individual on BugGuide looks darker than most.

Correction Courtesy of Eric Eaton
Hi, Daniel:
Very nice image of a male Northern Paper Wasp, Polistes fuscatus.  A European Hornet would be much bigger, more robust in body shape, but I’ve seen both and the difference is striking to me.  I also don’t know what context or story came with the image.
Eric

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Stinging flying insect.
Location: Mesa Arizona
August 18, 2014 1:26 pm
I was stung today by these lovely little guys, when I went to insect identification and clicked Arizona, I however was at a loss to find them! The nest is smaller than a baseball and they’re probably only 1 1/2 inches in length (not that I got close enough to measure) I was wondering if you could help my figure out just who’s living in my hedge bush!
Signature: Lynn

Paper Wasp Nest

Paper Wasp Nest

Dear Lynn,
These are Paper Wasps in the genus
Polistes, and they are social wasps that build nests.  Generally, solitary wasps are not aggressive, but social wasps will defend the nest.  With that said, Paper Wasps are not as aggressive as Yellowjackets or Hornets, but they will still defend the nest.  We believe your individuals are Polistes flavus based on images posted to BugGuide.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Yellow wasp
Location: Taitung, Taiwan
August 14, 2014 8:34 am
This wasp was very busy getting nectar from the flowers on my dads tree, so I managed to get a few shots of it. I don’t know what kind of wasp it is, whether it’s dangerous or not. Either way, I left it alone after getting the photos.
Signature: Rebecca

Paper Wasp

Paper Wasp

Dear Rebecca,
This is a Paper Wasp in the genus
Polistes, but we are not certain of the species.  We suspect that Paper Wasps in Taiwan behave much like Paper Wasps in other parts of the world.  Some species are more aggressive than others, but solitary individuals gathering nectar do not pose much of a threat to humans.  Paper Wasps are social wasps that build a nest, and they will defend a nest against a potential threat, so we would strongly urge people not to disturb the nest of a Paper Wasp.  According to BugGuide, which deals with North American species:  “Semi-social wasps. Unlike social (eusocial) wasps, where workers are sterile females, in Polistes all females are potential breeders. (See comments below for details.) Fertilized queens overwinter in crevices or under bark. In spring they build a nest and the colony builds up over the summer. At first, only workers (sterile females) are produced. Mature colonies have up to 30 adults. A young queen is the sole survivor of the colony. (I am presuming this queen disperses to find an unrelated male on flowers in the fall.)”  BugGuide also notes:  “Not as aggressive as Hornets, Yellowjackets. May be considered beneficial to gardeners because of predation on herbivorous insects.

Paper Wasp

Paper Wasp

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Looks to be a Red-footed Cannibalfly
Location: Franklin, TN (Nashville area)
August 11, 2014 1:32 pm
We’re looking for a confirmation on this being a robber fly. Your site was soo helpful in both researching what we saw out our front door and learning more about the bug in question.
This guy was about 3 cm in length and “snacking” on a wasp.
Our 3 and 5 yr old were fighting for the best position to watch this guy through a window. Question – how bad would a bite from this guy be to a small kid? And, is it okay to hang out around them as they protect our air space?
Signature: Jeff

Red Footed Cannibalfly eats Paper Wasp

Red Footed Cannibalfly eats Paper Wasp

Hi Jeff,
We agree that this is a Red Footed Cannibalfly, and it appears to be eating a Paper Wasp in the genus
Polistes (See BugGuide).  We believe a bite from a Red Footed Cannibalfly would be painful, but otherwise present no lasting effects, however we should qualify that that we believe the chances of being bitten are at about 0% unless a person decided to try to catch a Red Footed Cannibalfly by hand.  They are not aggressive towards humans, and if provoked, they would most likely just fly off.  Handling them is a totally different matter.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: red footed
Location: alabama
July 26, 2014 2:49 pm
Does this thing bite or sting humans?
Signature: freaked out

Redfooted Cannibalfly eats Paper Wasp

Red-Footed Cannibalfly eats Paper Wasp

Dear freaked out,
Though the Red-Footed Cannibalfly,
Promachus rufipes, is a very adept hunter capable of taking stinging wasps like this Paper Wasp on the wing, they are not aggressive towards humans.  With that said, if a human ever tried to capture a Red-Footed Cannibalfly or other large Robber Fly with bare hands, a bite may result.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination