Currently viewing the category: "Paper Wasps"

Subject:  Wasp lands on me WITH caterpillar meal
Geographic location of the bug:  Missouri, United States
Date: 06/29/2019
Time: 12:25 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  so today one of the most cool, weird, and gross things happened to me. I was sitting outside with my bearded dragon and we were under a nice tree. I feel a plop on my arm and I look down to see what it is and my hand is already poised to gently brush off whatever bug has wandered onto me, but I see the black and yellow and my brain registers: THAT is a wasp.
I pulled out my camera as fast as I could because… this is absolutely wild, I’ve never had this happen. and I sit there as I watch this wasp crunch her caterpillar prey WHILE SITTING ON MY ARM… when I moved my arm she got spooked and flew away, leaving her dead caterpillar laying on me… which I brushed off onto the sidewalk.
I have included the caterpillar itself as well, which I’m curious to know the name of, if possible.
How you want your letter signed:  Michael

European Paper Wasp with Caterpillar prey alights on tattooed arm.

Dear Michael,
We applaud your quick reflex “inaction” to the aposomatic or warning coloration on this European Paper Wasp,
Polistes dominula, which we identified thanks to this BugGuide image.  According to the Penn State Department of Entomology: “Before 1981, the European paper wasp was not recorded in North America. In its native region, P. dominulais the most abundant paper wasp in those countries around the Mediterranean. It is also found in southern Europe, northern Africa, the Middle East, and eastward into China.  A highly successful colonizer, this wasp has rapidly increased its distribution in the United States during the past 20 years. Before the introduction of this new species, the northern paper wasp, Polistes fuscatus, was the most frequently encountered species in and around structures in Pennsylvania.”  That site also observes:  “Whenever new species are introduced into an environment (either intentionally or accidentally), there are unpredictable consequences. The increased risk for stings is an obvious concern. Even more troubling, it appears that this new introduction has had an adverse impact on the native species of Polistes. The apparent reduction of indigenous Polistes will undoubtedly result in a change in the faunal balance. It is unclear what the consequences will be. Some entomologists worry that the large numbers of P. dominula will adversely affect the species of desirable insects (i.e., butterflies).”  For that reason, we are tagging your submission as Invasive Exotics as well as Food Chain.  This is also the most frequently encountered Paper Wasp in our our Mount Washington, Los Angeles garden.  We believe this caterpillar is a member of the Owlet Moth family Noctuidae, which includes Cutworms.

Probably Owlet Moth Caterpillar

Subject:  Carpenter bug?
Geographic location of the bug:  Bluff Durban South Africa
Date: 02/20/2019
Time: 06:08 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Is this a carpenter bug? 2nd time submitting first  gave me an error just incase you get twice
How you want your letter signed:  Charlene Boock

Carpenter Bee Robber Fly eats Wasp

Dear Charlene,
Your Food Chain image is magnificent.  Thanks for taking the time to ensure it was properly submitted.  It does appear to be a Carpenter Bee Robber Fly and the prey appears to be a Paper Wasp.

Subject:  Mud Wasps?
Geographic location of the bu:  Sadleir NSW
Date: 01/21/2019
Time: 09:27 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi the wasps in the pic are living on my clothes line can u please tell me if they are mud wasps n what kind? Also if they are aggressive how can i remove them in a manner safe for me and them?
How you want your letter signed:  Yours Sincerely Lori Jenkins

Paper Wasp Nest

Dear Lori,
This appears to be a Paper Wasp nest, probably from the genus
Polistes.  According to the Brisbane Insect site:  “There are different species of Paper Wasps. Those wasps in genus Polistes build inverted mushroom-shaped. They build rather small paper combs nest suspended from a peduncle and not surrounded by an envelope. … They are dark brown in colour with yellow bends on dark brown abdomen. The thorax is black in colour with yellow ‘V’ markings. Their faces are yellow with large compound eyes.” Your image is rather dark and lacking detail, so we would not rule out the genus Ropalidia which is also pictured on the Brisbane Insect site.  Paper Wasps are social wasps that will defend the nest against attack by stinging, and some species might be more aggressive than others, but when they do not feel the nest is threatened, they are quite docile.

Subject:  Flying insect – Wasp?
Geographic location of the bug:  Richmond VA
Date: 11/01/2018
Time: 02:39 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi, I keep finding these flying insects in my house.  I am concerned if they are dangerous as my cats like to chase them around the house.  I am not sure where they are coming from but would like to know more about them.
How you want your letter signed:  Martin

Northern Paper Wasp

Dear Martin,
This is a Northern Paper Wasp,
Polistes fuscatus, and it is an especially dark individual, much like this BugGuide image.  According to BugGuide:  “Hypervariable in color and pattern” and “Nests in woodlands and savannas. It is fairly common around human habitations, especially where exposed wood is present and can be used for nest material.”  BugGuide also indicates:  “Lifespan is approximately one year, or the time it takes a queen to develop and to mate. Larvae from eggs that are laid during the summer are well fed because of abundant food, and are capable of becoming queens. These eggs hatch before fall and the resulting offspring hibernate during fall and winter. The new queens emerge in the spring to begin nests and lay eggs.”  That causes us to speculate that perhaps the individuals you are finding are queens that are seeking shelter indoors to hibernate due to the approaching cold weather.

Subject:  Flying insect
Geographic location of the bug:  Coastal North Carolina
Date: 07/31/2018
Time: 08:12 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  A large wasp landed on my window screen and out of nowhere this thing landed and grabbed it!  Never seen anything like it before.  It’s huge! What is it?
How you want your letter signed:  DD

Red Footed Cannibalfly Fly eats Paper Wasp

Dear DD,
The predator in your images is a Giant Robber Fly in the genus
Promachus, probably a Red Footed Cannibalfly.  They often prey upon large stinging insects.  The prey appears to be a Paper Wasp.

Paper Wasp is prey to Red Footed Cannibalfly

Subject:  Polistes flavus
Geographic location of the bug:  Tucson, Arizona
Date: 06/30/2018
Time: 4:27 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: P.S.
You might be interested in the attached photo of Polistes flavus “walking on water.”
Kathy is always rescuing waterlogged honeybees, but she photographed these wasps landing on the surface of the pool, taking a drink, then flying off over the house. ID has been confirmed by the folks on the Southwestern Arthropods Facebook page.
How you want your letter signed:  Julian P. Donahue

Paper Wasp: Polistes flavus

Thanks Julian, for sending your gorgeous image of a Paper Wasp.  BugGuide has no species specific information on it except to indicate its southwest range.