Currently viewing the category: "Paper Wasps"
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Question re wasps/bees
I wonder if you can help with this request for identification. You can reply direct to Gillian but I’d be interested in the answer too. Nice site!
Best wishes,
Hello Dr. Robertson,
My name is Gillian Little and Duncan Sinclair has recommended you to me so that I can ask your assistance in identifying the attached photos taken recently in the rain forest in Panama. My daughter and I just happened upon them while digging up ants/fungus for her research. I would be delighted if you could tell me anything about them. I certainly have never seen anything like them before. In fact, we went back a few days later to find them still in the same configuration.
Many thanks,

Hi Gillian and Mel,
What an interesting grouping of Social Wasps. What interesting coloration and what an interesting shape. The classic wasp-waist and the elongated abdomen are distinctive. We have never seen anything quite like this before. We suspect perhaps this configuration has something to do with the formation of a new colony and the protection of the queen, but maybe not. We are eager to begin our web research to see if we can uncover any information. We got instant gratification. Just typing in “wasps Panama” and doing a google search lead us to the very first site called Photo Gallery of Eusocial Paper Wasp Genera and Research run by Sean O’Donnell which identified this as “Apoica pallens. Wasps in this genus are unique in the Neotropics because they are nocturnal. In the day, the workers cluster on the nest surface, effectively forming an envelope over the brood with their bodies.” A subsequent Google search of the name Apoica pallens turned up a paper written by O’Donnell along with tree collaborators.

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Strange wasps
Hi Bugman,
We live in Central Qld Australia and can’t identify these wasps my mother found in this Casuarina tree. We have been looking on the net all morning trying to ID them. Sorry I couldn’t get any closer but they are right up the top of the tree. They are quite large being around inches long.

Hi Renee,
Your photo is not detailed enough to clearly identify your Paper Wasps, but we believe they are in the genus Polistes. Eric Eaton wrote in with this information: ” Check this out: I’m thinking that the image submitted to your site is a nest of Polistes tepidus. Maybe? Great link for Australian insects in any event. Eric”

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European Paper Wasps on their nest
I took this picture of the paper wasps while golfing. They had decided to make their home on the underside of the railing around the mid-course restroom. Grubs are clearly visible in some of the cells of the nest.

Hi Nadjia,
Thanks for sending in your photo.

Hi there, I am a paper wasp researcher, currently working on introduced populations of Polistes dominulus across the US, and I found your site while doing a web search. On your site you have a couple of photos of this species. These are also P. dominulus, not yellow jackets. The first indication is the single, open-combed nest (yellowjackets enclose their multiple combs in a paper envelope), but also notice the brown antennae and slender bodies. I hope you don’t mind my unsolicited comments! The photos on your site are a great resource, and I thank you.
Aviva Liebert

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what type of wasp/hornet?
I have looked through your (site as well as a few of your linked sites and haven’t found a match for the (hornet?) in the attached photo. I found this guy hanging out in one of my papaya trees today and he seemed very interested in staying there despite my sticking a camera in his face. He would get agitated with me and buzz by my head only to go back to the same spot in the tree. He was alone and I saw no evidence of any kind of nest. I am in central Florida. Any help in identifying him would be appreciated. I also think you have a great site here and I plan on bookmarking it for future reference.
Thank You
Wendy Hicks

Hi Wendy,
After consulting with Eric Eaton, we are 99% sure this beautiful wasp is in the genus Polistes, but we do not recognize the species. We will continue to try to get a more definite identification.

Ed. Note: This just came in: (09/25/2005) “recently posted wasp
I am almost 90% sure that this particular was is a Golden Paper Wasp Polistes fuscatus Let me know what you find out. thx,
James Woodman”

Update:  January 19, 2018
A recent comment informed us that this is Polistes major major, which is represented on BugGuide.

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Hello from Trinidad and Tobago
Just blogged your site for, and you should get some more viewers that way… 2 reasons for writing. You’re providing an invaluable service, and I’m going to thank you. Because of your site I was able to identify one spider (I forget it’s name) that’s called a tailless scorpion or something… Scared the hell out of me when I was cleaning the yard last year! 🙂 Harmless, and it’s still around. You might find some of these pictures useful: you’re free to use them. Some of them I have no idea of what they are (like the ones near the carilee), but the majority look like stinkbugs – colorful. The Jack Spaniard is very common here. Your site is reaching the size where a content management system might help you – save you and users time, etc. I don’t know how savvy you folks are, but I would suggest Drupal ( ) when the next release comes out. I think your site has grown to a level where, though obviously a labor of love, it might become limiting to you and others. Drupal’s free to use and install. It’s open source. You can do it yourself if you want – and if you run into problems, there are a lot of people who can help. It doesn’t hurt to look. And it could help you get the site to pay for itself by making information easier to find. Good luck, and please keep up the good work. I just thought you might like to consider those ideas.
Taran Rampersad
Presently in: San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago

Hi Taran,
Until our current webhost, who is managing things for us, kicks us to the curb, we are going to keep the status quo, but thanks for the advice. We love your local name for your Polistes Paper Wasp. Do you know the origin of Jack Spaniard?

Speculation: Probably something along the lines of ‘stings like a Spaniard’, especially in a former Spanish and then English colony. Trinidad and Tobago has quite a mix in names because of it’s mixed past. I believe that they call it the same in Guyana. Perhaps it’s a British colonial name for an insect that stings pretty aggressively.

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I am the operations manager at a large retreat Center and Summer Camp in Dallas Texas. We have a tall tower that the kids ride a zip line down. Every Fall these wasp swarm the tower. They are not aggressive, but needless to say, kids running and swatting at wasp 50′ in the air is not good. There are no nest, just hundreds of these wasp flying around the top of the tower. the strange thing is they are just at the top of the tower and no where else.
The attached pics are of the wasp. pic_a wasp are larger than pic_b wasp. There seems to be a equal # of both. I don’t know if they are the same species and pic_b is a juvenile. We have tried wasp spray and smoke to no avail. Any ideas???
Thanks for the Help

Hi Ronney,
Your wasps are Paper Wasp from the genus Polistes. They inhabit meadows fields and gardens where they take nectar from flowers and they are often found near buildings. They are social wasps. Several females work together to construct an uncovered paperlike, hanging nest made of wood pulp and saliva. The Audubon Guide to Insects and Spiders goes on to say that : “One female becomes dominant queen. Ist few generations in summer are all females, cared for as larvae by unmated female workers. Unfertilized eggs produce fertile males. Only mated young queens overwinter under leaf litter and in stone walls. Old queens, workers, and larvae die. Paper Wasps are much more tolerant of people and minor disturbances than are hornets and yellow jackets.” Your species is probably Polistes apachus which occurs in Texas, New Mexico, southern California, and Mexico.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination