Currently viewing the category: "Paper Wasps"

Subject:  Paper Wasps
Geographic location of the bug:  Chesapeake, VA
Date: 09/08/2021
Time: 10:01 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi Bugman!
Some resourceful paper wasps have taken advantage of the gap in the screen of our daughter’s bedroom window.  She was initially afraid of them but we are using the nest as a teaching tool since they’ll likely be gone once winter hits.  The nest has really grown since they moved in, and it’s so interesting to watch.  She is four and loves the “bugs that make the paper”.
It’s interesting to see their antennas reach toward the window when we open the blinds, but beyond that, they don’t seem to be phased by our presence.
How you want your letter signed:  S Reyman

Paper Wasp Nest

Dear S Reyman,
Thanks for sending in your image of a Paper Wasp nest and your plan for using its development as a teaching tool. We believe these are introduced European Paper Wasps which are pictured on BugGuide.

Paper Wasps

Subject:  2 wasps nesting on motorbike fork
Geographic location of the bug:  Taipei City, Taiwan
Date: 08/29/2021
Time: 12:38 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This afternoon I found these 2 guys nesting off the lower end of the fork of my motorbike that I had had covered and not ridden for a couple of months. Over the past 3 days I rode the bike several times, including once after I had discovered them. They seemed unfazed by the 50 kmph speeds, winds, vibration, etc., never letting go of the nest or taking flight, although they moved about on the nest.
My questions:
1. What type of wasp/hornet is it?
2. Can I just cut the rope-like thing that it hangs off and then run? Would they attack me/give chase? How long would they stay around the nest, and irritated?
I wouldn’t like to endanger their lives nor my own.
How you want your letter signed:  Tauno

Paper Wasps nesting on motorbike

Dear Tauno,
We love, love, love your letter and we are making your nesting Paper Wasps the Bug of the Month for September 2021. We have even posted a submission in 2014 of Paper Wasps in Taiwan.  Paper Wasps in the genus
Polistes are found in many parts of the world.  They are social wasps and according to the North American site BugGuide:  “Mature colonies have up to 30 adults.”  If you cut the nest, with only two Paper Wasps, one the queen, protecting the next, we doubt you will be stung, but we can assure you the Paper Wasps will abandon the nest.  The queen may attempt to build a new nest.  We can’t believe you rode the motorbike at 50kmph and they stayed with you and the nest.

Paper Wasps nesting on Motorbike

UPDATE:  September 2, 2021
Dear Bugman,
I am deeply grateful for your answer and, on behalf of the biker wasps, overwhelmed by the honor of being featured on your website.
An update:Your prediction was absolutely correct: the wasps abandoned the nest. I parked my bike, this time in a more open area and without covering it; on the first night at least one of these guys was still there, dozing off, but by the evening of the next day they were nowhere to be seen. For all the lack of privacy, I’d probably have moved, too.
I waited until the next afternoon and then mustered up the courage to pluck off the (really a beginning of a) nest with bare fingers, kind of expecting to see an empty shell (wouldn’t you finish building your home first and only then move your family in?), but to my surprise a little beady face was staring at me from almost each of the compartments (see the pic), some apparently trying to wiggle me to bring them high tea. Thinking the actual family might come back for them I took the whole bundle to the park across the alley and left it under a bush.
From your email it seems that this will probably not happen- so that was a bittersweet goodbye- but I can now say I’ve met a real queen.
Hope they’ll find a place for a more peaceful home soon.
Thank you!

Paper Wasp Nest

Thank you for the wonderful update Tauno.  Regarding moving the family in before the home is finished:  The queen constructed the beginning of the nest and she produced her first generation of workers, and by your account, there were only a few.  For that first generation, the queen also had to do all the hunting.  Once she had several workers, she began producing her second generation of workers and there were more helpers so it can be a bigger brood.

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.