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
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!