Two species of Polistes Paper Wasps

Hello Bugman:
I would like to say that when I first "stumbled" on your site I was a little repulsed but the next thing I knew, I found myself spending hours looking at the different bugs and reading your mail. To my amazement, I found that some of those bugs are beautiful. Your site is now in my "favorites". We have two types of wasps in our back yard. After getting over my fear and impulse to get rid of them, I realized that they are not aggressive and seem to be eating something off our hostas and peonies although I can’t see what. There are at least 20 wasps at all times. My question is this: Do they sting? Can they become aggressive?
Thanking you in advance,
Hélène Bélanger

Polistes Paper Wasp European Paper Wasp

Hi Hélène,
Both of your wasps are Paper Wasps in the genus Polistes. The brown one is a native species. For more information on the yellow and black one, we turned to Eric Eaton. He wrote this: “There is no such thing as a “solitary” paper wasp:-) They are social, just have pretty small colonies. This one is the European paper wasp, Polistes dominulus, introduced to the U.S. back in the 1990s and now one of the most common urban wasps. It may even be displacing some native Polistes in certain areas. Eric”

2 thoughts on “Two species of Polistes Paper Wasps”

  1. I am now almost 68 years old. All of my life I have know red wasps to be aggressive. There have been times when I would not even know that there was a wasp nest near until i received a sting. I grew up in Houston, Texas where I lived from my birth in Dec. 1947 until Oct. 1993. Then with my family, wife and children, moved to East Texas, just north west of Tyler, Texas in 1976. I have been stung numerous times by theses vicious creatures. Some have had nest under the eaves of my house, which ever house that might be at the time and just walking along that side of the house would be threat enough to those wasps to come after me. Therefore I keep several cans of wasp/hornet spray in my house and tool shed all the time so no matter which place I am in, or near, i will have easy access with a weapon to “return fire” and rid the threat. I am not allergic but the sting is still very painful and therefore I consider them to be an enemy and “shoot to kill. 🙂 I have always known them to be aggressive. In face, I have found them not only nesting under the roof of my front porch but even making nests under my porch swing that hangs on my front porch if I have been gone from several weeks. For that reason, when I have been gone for several weeks, before sitting on my porch swing, I bump it with a long pole and if these little monsters start flying out from under the swing, I go into action with my spray. I shoot to kill! I have grand children who, when they come to visit, like to sit on that swing. I am not about to let those wasps take over my area and put my family members at any sort of risk. I have ALWAYS found red wasps to be aggressive. Thanks for reading my comment. The reason I found YOUR article was because I was curious to find out if there was any good thing that red wasps do.


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