Paper Wasp: Polistes rubiginosus

Subject: Orange wasp with blue wings
Location: Warsaw, MO
June 24, 2012 11:12 pm
I’ve searched all over and cannot match this wasp to anything I find. It has a distinguishing marking on its back.
Signature: Shane

Paper Wasp

Hi Shane,
This is a species of Paper Wasp in the genus
Polistes which BugGuide describes as:  “Semi-social wasps. Unlike social (eusocial) wasps, where workers are sterile females, in Polistes all females are potential breeders.”  We are uncertain of the exact species, but Polistes metricus has similar thoracic markings though the abdomen is darker.  See BugGuide for photos of that species.  Polistes carolina, the Red Wasp (also on BugGuide), has no markings on the thorax, but otherwise looks very similar to your wasps.  Perhaps your wasps are a hybrid, a color variation, or a different species altogether.

Paper Wasps

4 thoughts on “Paper Wasp: Polistes rubiginosus”

  1. Hybrid of south Texas solid abdomen/ tail yellow jacket and red wasp. These yellows are near uvnalde and are much larger than reds. Very aggressive wasps that can survive coldest winters for both the solid yellow tail and hybrid.

  2. These things are very aggressive. They tend to build their nests within interior spaces rather than outside of homes. In Kentucky they become most problematic in the fall when the colony begins to collapse. They can be seen pouring out of their hive entrances, often within the walls of peoples homes, in balls. They will attack without provocation in the fall. Their stings are much stronger than a typical paper wasp. The pain is similar to the sting of a Bald Faced Hornet. Eradicating them is difficult. If only a single wasps survives, it will become a new breeding queen. Aggression seems to be inherited from one generation to the next. Fight the nest and leave an angry survivor, and you’ll be rewarded with even more aggressive wasps next time around. Nasty things.


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