Currently viewing the category: "Paper Wasps"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Friendly wasp nesting in my balcony
Location: Prague, Czech Republic
July 19, 2015 9:00 am
Dear Bugman,
I’d like to know what kind of wasp the one pictured in the attached photos is. Unlike the “common” wasp here in Europe, who is probably the most annoying insect on this planet, these not only keep to themselves, they even look afraid of humans as they clumsily fly away when I get close.
The problem is that they’ve nested underneath my balcony table. Since they always keep their distance, I managed to convince my wife to leave them alone. I hate to harm any form of life. But she’s gonna freak out when she returns from her vacation and realizes that they are spreading and building new nests under the table.
Besides the identification, do you know if:
– These are known to bite easily? From my observations it does not seem to be the case as I’ve bumped into the table several times and passed really close to the nests causing several of them to fly out stunned and they never attacked.
– Is there a product or any other way to “convince” them to move away without harming them? They are building new nests at the moment so I guess they could do it elsewhere if only my balcony table stopped being a welcoming place for them.
Thanks in advance for the identification and any tip in helping my solve this problem without harming the wasps.
Kind regards,
Signature: Pedro

European Paper Wasp Nest

European Paper Wasp Nest

Dear Pedro,
This is the nest of the European Paper Wasp,
Polistes dominula, a common European species.  To the best of our knowledge, this is not an aggressive species, but they may sting in an effort to protect the nest.  According to Animal Diversity Web:  “European paper wasps live in temperate and terrestrial habitats including chaparral, forest and grassland biomes. They reside in urban, suburban, and agricultural locations. They tend to reside close to human civilization because they nest in human structures. They also live in forests and on plants where they can feed and nest. When nesting, they choose spaces created by farm machinery and recreational structures. During winter, impregnated queens reside in protected locations such as within house walls or in hollow trees. These females then create nests in these locations or nearby at the beginning of spring.”  According to Penn State Entomology:  “Before 1981, the European paper wasp was not recorded in North America. In its native region, P. dominula is 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.”  We cannot think of a feasible means of convincing them to move when they already have an established nest.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Insect Nest
Location: Porto Alegre
June 26, 2015 11:50 am
Hello!
I recently visited the Jardim Botanico de Porto Alegre in Brazil, and I saw this nest up in a tree there. It’s about two feet tall. I’ve looked up both insect and bird nests, and I can’t seem to find a visual match online. It has thorns on it, and there weren’t any other structures like it anywhere, so I don’t think it’s a feature of the tree itself.
Signature: Brynna

What's That Nest???

What’s That Nest???

Dear Brynna,
This nest appears to be made of mud and it appears that it is quite large.  We wish you had estimated its dimensions.  Like you, we would speculate that it was created either by a social insect or a bird.  Our initial search did not produce any results.  Perhaps our Brazilian counterpart, Cesar Crash of Insetologia will have some ideas.

Update:  July 4, 2015
Thanks to a comment from a reader, we were directed to this image of a Paper Wasp Nest on FlickR.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Mason wasp? Very cool nesting! (pics)
Location: Austin, TX
June 5, 2015 6:12 pm
Hi,
Last year on my patio popped up a large paper wasp nest and family. I let em stay because they were never aggressive and far enough away. I never bothered knocking the nest down, and then one day this spring I saw something interesting. There was a wasp returning to the nest. I looked closer and saw it was packing mud in the holes…hmm? It looked really similar to a regular Texas paper wasp, but a little different.
After it left I looked closer and saw a mud packed hole and another she was working on. Inside it looked like little gray and green tree caterpillars/worms. Very cool! During the next weeks/month it made more nests, quite efficient compared to the standard mud pods we see. Also during this time I noticed that the numerous smaller and new for the season paper wasp nests died off, except for one lone wasp now. I would find dead paper wasps 1 or 2 a day on the patio, and eventually their little nests were cut down/disappeared one day.
Today I looked at it, and most of the little mud “caps” were open, and there happened to be a wasp that just emerged hanging there. Wings are small so it can’t have been out too long. Snapped some pics!
Not much of a bug nerd, but I sound like it now! Just found this really interesting and couldn’t find anything about this on the internet at all. On your site here and google, looks like a mason wasp possibly? Ever heard of this behavior?
Signature: Phil

What Wasp is nesting in a Paper Wasp Nest???

Mason Wasp nesting in a Paper Wasp Nest

Dear Phil,
It is our understanding that Paper Wasps do not reuse nests, and we have not heard of any mud nesting wasps using abandoned Paper Wasp nests, nor has our internet research turned up anything in our initial search.  We wish you had a better image of the “recycling” Wasp.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to add some information.  We will also try to contact Eric Eaton to see if he can provide any information.

Eric Eaton Confirms Mason Wasp
Daniel:
Phil is correct.  This is a mason wasp of some kind.  Many kinds of solitary bees and wasps will use pre-existing cavities as nests, including old mud dauber nests, and, at least occasionally, abandoned paper wasp nests.
Eric

Yeah it was hard to get a good angle and keep my arms perfectly still being high up.  I did see one return to the nest yesterday, but it fly off before I could snap a pic.  Looks like another one hatched too.  Looking at more pics on google, I see some that look very similar to a kind of Mason wasp:
https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4106/4966435956_5f2c5aa9b3_b.jpg
http://www.bentler.us/eastern-washington/animals/insects/wasps/mason-wasp-euodynerus.jpg

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: slowly overcoming my wasp phobia
Location: Missouri, United States
April 16, 2015 10:19 pm
I’m quite proud of myself, this wasp fell out of my hair and onto the ground yesterday and it didn’t look like she (he?) could fly. I watched her fumble around on some weeds for a bit and then I held my hand there and she crawled on.
I was very scared, I’ve had countless bad experiences with wasps. but this went very well and I hope to have good experiences with them more often.
I believe this wasp is in the polistes genus? a paper wasp of some sort?
Signature: Stolz

Paper Wasp

Paper Wasp

Dear Stolz,
Congratulations on your new confidence.  We agree that this is a Paper Wasp in the genus
Polistes, and we thought that perhaps you were not stung because the individual was a male, so we researched how to tell the sexes apart.  According to BugGuide:  “Males have curly antennae and yellow faces, exception being P. annularis males, which have red faces just like females.”  Your individual does not match images of P. annularis posted to BugGuide, so we are presuming your individual is a female.  Your individual resembles the allegedly aggressive Red Wasp, Polistes carolina, that is the subject of many comments on our site, but BugGuide does not list the Red Wasp occurring in Missouri.  Perhaps your individual is the very similar looking Polistes rubiginosus, that according to BugGuide, is reported from Missouri.

Paper Wasp

Paper Wasp

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Red wasp identification
Location: San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico
March 7, 2015 7:57 am
This red wasp was photographed in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico in late February. It was in the grass.
Can you help identify it?
Signature: Wasp interest

Probably Paper Wasp

Probably Paper Wasp

We believe this is a Paper Wasp in the genus Polistes, and we have received numerous reports that Red Paper Wasps from Texas are aggressive and have a very painful sting.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Evil Looking Wasp

Location: Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
November 10, 2014 2:23 pm
Hi There,
We are on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica and are planning on moving into a new apartment. These wasps were seen building a nest on one of the poles, and I’m just wondering
a) what are they?
b) is their sting as painful as it looks?
c) how would we exterminate them?
Thanks so much!
Signature: Concerned in Costa Rica

Warrior Wasps build new nest

Warrior Wasps build new nest

Dear Concerned in Costa Rica,
Regarding c):  We do not provide extermination advice.  We thought your wasps looked like Paper Wasps in the genus
Polistes, and following that lead, we came to the Photo Gallery of Eusocial Paper Wasp Genera and Research page where Polistes atterimus (Monteverde, Costa Rica) is described as being “mimics of Synoeca septentrionalis,” so we followed up on that species and genus.  Of the genus, we learned on the same page, the Photo Gallery of Eusocial Paper Wasp Genera and Research, that “These wasps are infamous for their painful stings and ferocious colony defense. When mildly disturbed, they produce an ominous rushing sound, with synchronous rhythm, by rubbing against their corrugated nest paper. Watch out.”  We found an image of Synoeca cyanea on FlickR of the start of a new colony that looks remarkably like your image.  Though we typically do not quote from Wikipedia, we did learn there that members of the genus Synoeca, “Commonly known as warrior wasps or drumming wasps, these insects are known for aggressive behavior, a threat display consisting of multiple insects guarding a nest beating their wings in a synchronized fashion, and an extremely painful sting. Synoeca is one of only three insect types (the others being the bullet ant and the tarantula hawk) to receive a rating of 4 or higher on insect sting pain indices such as the Schmidt sting pain index.”  That takes care of your questions a) and b), and we found further support on the Vespa bicolor page where it states of the genus Synoeca:  “These wasps are known for their aggression, and also for their extremely painful stings (possibly most painful of any social wasps!) Upon any threat near the nest, the workers are able to produce sound by “drumming” on or rubbing against the inner surface of the nest envelope. If the disturbance continues, the wasps rush out and sometimes pursue the intruder for long distances.”

Thank you very much for the information. I have passed it along to my landlord 🙂

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination