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.

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Location: Louisiana

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