Red Paper Wasp Male Vs Female: How To Differentiate?

Only female wasps have stingers. Below, we look at red paper wasp male vs female differences so that you can be wary of the right ones.

Wasps are known as one of the major species of insects with venomous stings. There are around 30,000 identified species of them around the globe, and a good fraction of them are capable of delivering painful stings to humans. 

But do you know that a male red paper wasp doesn’t have the ability to sting? Only females are capable of doing that. Fascinating right?

But how do you identify which red paper wasp is a male or female? This article will help with that. 

What Are Red Paper Wasps?

Red paper wasps are a part of the paper wasp family and can be identified by their long, red to reddish-brown colored bodies with black wings. They can grow up to 0.6-0.8 inches in size. 

These also are called Polistes Carolina or P. Carolina. These wasps can be found across all the regions of North America. 

But they are mostly seen near the Eastern and Midwestern areas. Similar to other paper wasps, P. carolina uses wood pulp mixed with saliva to build umbrella-shaped paper wasp nests. 

Similarities Between Male and Female Red Wasps

When it comes to size, both male and female wasps are similar; they can grow from 0.98-1.26 inches in length. 

The length of the wings is identical as well; they can grow from 0.59-0.98 inches. 

Despite the similarities in size, there are some physical differences between the color and appearance of the male and a female red paper wasp

Let us take a look at them in the section below. 

Red Paper Wasp Male Vs. Female: Helpful Tips

How Are Female and Male Wasps Different?

Red paper wasps exhibit sexual dimorphism. Sexual dimorphism occurs when the males and the females of the same species show notable physical differences such as shape, size, color, structure, and more. 

These differences occur due to the inheritance of specific sexual patterns. Dimorphism is quite common in nature and exists in many species, such as baboons, birds, and several insects.

Here are a few notable differences between the male and females:

Difference in Color

The females can be identified by their long and slender rust-colored bodies with black markings around their eyes. They also have some yellow markings on their lower jaw and legs. 

On the other hand, the Males also have long and slender bodies but are known to have black markings on their legs.

Red Paper Wasp Male Vs. Female: Helpful Tips

Antennae and Appearance

If you observe closely, you will find more differences in appearance. For example, the male red paper wasps have square-shaped faces. Also, they have longer hooked antennas than the females. 

The female red paper wasps are known to have a triangular face that is connected to shorter antennae. 

Can Male Red Paper Wasps Sting?

The male red paper wasps do not have the ability to sting; only females can sting. 

The chances of a female stinging a human are low, as these insects often use the sting and the venom only for hunting their prey. 

They do not exhibit aggressive behavior like yellow jacket wasps. 

But they will attack if you threaten them or their nests and their stings are usually painful. Therefore you must be careful around these wasps.

Their Role In The Colony

Red paper wasps are social insects, and they live in a wasp colony. The females are responsible for doing most of the work, while the males just mate with these females and die after that.

Like all social wasps, the nest is ruled by a reproductive queen. Smaller females do the maintenance work without working ovaries. 

These females collect wood, nectar, insects, and water to develop the nest and the larvae. These queens usually survive the winter by staying in warm places. 

Once spring comes, they start a new colony on their own.

The queens are often joined by other females capable of reproducing. 

These sisters help her to build and develop a new colony and work as worker wasps in the beginning. If the main queen dies, one of these sisters can become the queen. 

Red Paper Wasp Male Vs. Female: Helpful Tips

Frequently Asked Questions

Can male paper wasps sting?

A male paper wasp doesn’t possess a sting apparatus, which means it can’t sting. Only females have the required stingers. 
They use it for hunting their prey (caterpillars, flies, etc.) and to defend their nests. The sting can be painful. Therefore you must be careful around them. 

Is a red wasp the same as a paper wasp?

The red paper wasp is different than other paper wasps. They have a rusty-colored body with yellow and black markings on their jaws and legs. 
They also an around 0.6-0.8 inch long bodies with dark wings. However, both of these species are known to construct umbrella-like nests. 

How can you tell if a paper wasp is a queen?

A queen is usually the one who starts building the nest from scratch. Usually, queens are bigger than worker wasps, but in the case of paper wasps, the queen is of the same size
Worker wasps don’t survive throughout the winter. Mostly the surviving wasps in winter are the queens. Therefore if you spot paper wasps in winter, it is probably the queen. 

Are wasps male or female?

Wasps can be both male and female. The females are the ones who usually construct the nests. 
The most significant differentiating factor between male and female wasps is size. A female is generally bigger in size as they carry eggs. Due to this, the abdomen appears fuller and larger. 

Wrap Up

Red paper wasps are generally bigger than paper wasps, and it takes effort to differentiate between a male and a female. 

We hope this article helps you to identify these insects better so you can deal with them in a more intelligent manner. 

Thank you for taking the time to read the complete article. 


  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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1 thought on “Red Paper Wasp Male Vs Female: How To Differentiate?”

  1. When working with honeybees one can easily tell male from female because of their larger size and round abdomen. It made me wonder if males and females for wasp and hornets could be easily tell apart just by a quick look at them, while walking through the wood, for example. But from your article and others it looks like it is not that easy.


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