Currently viewing the category: "Paper Wasps"

Not sure what this is
We took the attached picture in Panama last month. The ball shaped objest (nest?) was covered with the insects. The whole ball was about 5-6 inches across. We saw it nestled in the exposed roots of a tree.
Abe Ross

Hi Abe,
We believe your wasps are in the genus Polybia. That identification is based on images from this fascinating website.

Wow, I am impressed with the speed of your response. I neglected to mention altitude in my original inquiry but we took the picture on the side of Volcan Baru, above the town of Guadaloupe which is at 2130 meters. This fits with the web page description as a “high-elevation species.” Thanks for the answer and for the great web-site.
Abe Ross

dramatic yellowjacket photos
Hello, I found your site while trying to find a definitive identification for the species of yellowjacket in these photos. Western, German, Californian or ?? Anyway, I thought you might appreciate these photos (taken in Sunnyvale, CA)

Hi Jay,
While we agree your photos are very dramatic, we do not agree that they are of Yellow Jackets. We believe these are Polistes Paper Wasps. We found a matching image on BugGuide, and it seems to look the most like the European Paper Wasp, Polistes dominulus, but would like to get Eric Eaton to confirm our identification.

Update (05/19/2006)
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 — one with the title “Dramatic Polistes Paper Wasp Photos”, taken 3/23/06. I’m not sure if you’ve already sought confirmation on this, but I wanted to let you know that these are indeed Polistes dominulus females, and they appear to be doing an aggressive behavior called “grappling”, which sometimes escalates to the point where it becomes a “falling fight” as the grappling wasps fall to the ground in a writhing ball. The females do this mostly in early spring when initiating new colonies, which they can do either solitarily or in groups. A group of nesting females eventually forms a linear dominance hierarchy, and this type of aggression may help determine who gets the top spot. I hope you don’t mind my unsolicitied comments! The photos on your site are a great resource, and I thank you.
Aviva Liebert

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.

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”

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

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.