Male Paper Wasp from Florida

Subject: Hornet? Wasp? Mimic? Central FL, mid-Jan.
Location: Palm Bay, FL (Brevard County)
January 29, 2016 3:42 pm
We live in east central Florida, and this beautiful insect was in our hibiscus plant recently (January, temps in upper 60’s). I have looked for hours and can’t identify it… the reddish colors and pattern don’t quite match any of the hornets, yellowjackets, wasps, or moths I’ve been able to find online. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is actually a wasp mimicking moth. It certainly wasn’t aggressive at all. Any thoughts on what this is?
Signature: Mike W.

Paper Wasp
Paper Wasp

Dear Mike,
We believe this is a Paper Wasp in the genus
Polistes, and it is most likely a light colored Polistes major like this individual from Georgia that is pictured on BugGuide.  We will check with Eric Eaton and get his opinion.

Paper Wasp
Paper Wasp

Eric Eaton Confirms ID.
Hi, Daniel:
Wow, great images!  Yes, this is a male Polistes major.  Male specimens of many Polistes appear paler in some cases than the female.  I also think these images were taken in very harsh light, which washes out the color on most insects.

Thank you! I have to agree that this seems to match my photos almost perfectly. The fact it’s an invasive species would certainly help explain why I had such a hard time figuring it out. But as long as it’s here, at least it’s attractive to look at! 🙂
Thanks again,

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