Currently viewing the category: "Paper Wasps"
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Subject: pearly abdomen
Location: trinidad and tobago
August 20, 2012 11:16 am
this guy is just hanging out on the wall in my staircase…what is it?
Signature: danielle

Unknown Wasp

Hi Danielle,
We have been away from the office for three days and email requests have really piled up.  Identifying your wasp might take considerable research and we will have to return to that task.  The photo and creature are amazing looking and we want to post it as unidentified for now.  Hopefully one of our readers, who does not have several hundred emails to answer and make posts of the most interesting of them, can assist with the identification.

Karl identifies Nocturnal Paper Wasp
Hi Daniel and Danielle:
It looks like a Nocturnal Paper Wasp (Vespidae: Polistinae), probably in the genus Apoica.  As far as I can tell there are three species of Apoica in T&T (A. pallens, A. gelida and A. pallida). I am not sure which one this might be but it looks very similar to A. pallens, a species that occurs throughout much of Central and South America, and the Caribbean region.  Regards.  Karl

Thanks Karl,
As always, you are awesome and your contributions are greatly appreciated.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: HUGE Wasp??
Location: Illinois
July 17, 2012 8:31 am
this HUGE wasp-like insect has been hanging around our garage and garden. Is it harmful to humans ,as in, will it sting us? I am allergic to stings and I’m a little nervous to go into the garden! It is eating other insects as this picture shows, and this morning when I went to the garden, it flew up from the garden with another bug in it’s legs. We live in Illinois and today is July 17, 2012.
Signature: Mary G.

Hanging Thief eats Paper Wasp

Hi Mary,
The predator in your photo is living up to its common name Hanging Thief.  Hanging Thieves are a family of Robber Flies that often hand from a single leg while feeding.  The only wasp in your photo it the Paper Wasp that is being eaten by the Hanging Thief.  Hanging Thieves often prey upon wasps and bees.  We do not know of anyone being bitten by a Hanging Thief, but we imagine they are capable of biting if they are carelessly handled. 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Paper Wasp with Caterpillar
Location: Northeast Florida
June 29, 2012 8:40 pm
I was outside by my tomato plants when I noticed a Paper Wasp flying around one of the plants, landing for a minute or two and then flying around again. It was carrying a very small green caterpillar that looked like a young Hornworm. The wasp would bite and chew on the caterpillar, then fly around with it again. I looked up Paper Wasps and read that they kill caterpillars and take the remains back to their nests. I’m sending a few pictures I took.
Signature: Karen in FL

Paper Wasp Preys Upon Caterpillar

Hi Karen,
We apologize for the delay in getting back to you.  We planned to post your photo days ago but it got lost in the shuffle.  We believe your Paper Wasp might be
Polistes exclamans which is described on BugGuide as having:  “Dark antennae with orange tips” and it is also referred to as the Common Paper Wasp or Guinea Wasp.  We would not discount that it might be another species as Paper Wasps are sometimes difficult to identify to the species level.  It is important to note that Paper Wasps generally bring prey like Caterpillars back to the nest to feed larvae.

That’s okay about the delay, I understand how busy you are. I looked at Polistes exclamans on BugGuide and it definitely looks like my wasp. I was fascinated to see it carrying the little caterpillar around, and I wondered how I could have missed seeing these wasps carrying off caterpillars before!

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Possibly Ropalidia revolutionalis
Location: QLD Australia
June 24, 2012 1:24 am
This little wasp was between 4-6mm in length.. non aggressive.

Paper Wasp

We believe your identification of this Paper Wasp is correct based on this photo from Oz Animals.  The Brisbane Insect Website calls this the Small Brown Paper Wasp.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Orange wasp with blue wings
Location: Warsaw, MO
June 24, 2012 11:12 pm
I’ve searched all over and cannot match this wasp to anything I find. It has a distinguishing marking on its back.
Signature: Shane

Paper Wasp

Hi Shane,
This is a species of Paper Wasp in the genus
Polistes which BugGuide describes as:  “Semi-social wasps. Unlike social (eusocial) wasps, where workers are sterile females, in Polistes all females are potential breeders.”  We are uncertain of the exact species, but Polistes metricus has similar thoracic markings though the abdomen is darker.  See BugGuide for photos of that species.  Polistes carolina, the Red Wasp (also on BugGuide), has no markings on the thorax, but otherwise looks very similar to your wasps.  Perhaps your wasps are a hybrid, a color variation, or a different species altogether.

Paper Wasps

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Brown and yellow wasp/hornet?
Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
February 23, 2012 8:07 pm
Dear Bugman, this creature has me befuddled. I tried looking up ”brown wasp” and found nothing similar – perhaps I gave up too soon? What puzzles me most is the apparent lack of eyes! It greeted me as I was coming home from work today (2/23/2012). It was 70 degrees and humid. Thanks much, and keep up the good work!
Signature: N. Fritz

Beheaded Paper Wasp

Dear N. Fritz,
Your Paper Wasp in the genus
Polistes has no eyes because it has been decapitated and the entire head is missing.  Though we are not certain of the species, your individual does look somewhat like the images of Polistes dorsalis that are posted on BugGuide.  The more interesting mystery for us is “What beheaded this Paper Wasp?”  We cannot think of a predator that would want to eat just the head, so we suspect this beheading might be related to a territory battle between colonies.

Dear Daniel,
How interesting!  It had occurred to me that perhaps it was missing a head, so yesterday after I wrote you, I looked at this paper wasp again. Its abdomen was clearly and obviously moving up and down, so I thought it must still be alive.  Can insects live without a head for some time?

Dear N. Fritz,
Cockroaches are reported be be able to live (if it can be called living) for several weeks without a head, though we know of no statistics on Paper Wasps.  See Scientific American for information.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination