Paper Wasps get their common name from the paperlike material of which they construct their nests. In the urban situation, these usually non-aggressive wasps are a nuisance pest.
Various species of Paper Wasps are found throughout the United States. Adult Paper Wasps are about 3/4” long, brownish in color with yellow markings on their body and legs. Paper Wasps have long legs which can typically be seen hanging down when flying, making them visibly different from their cousin, the Yellowjacket.
Paper Wasps are semi-social, existing in smaller colonies but without a worker caste. Overwintering Paper Wasp queens begin building nests in the spring and these founding queens are often joined by other overwintered queens which assist in nest building and maintenance. Such secondary queens become functional workers and relegate egg laying to the founding queen. However, should the founding/dominant queen die, one of the secondary Paper Wasp queens will take over egg laying to make sure that the nest survives. Nests consist of a single layer of paper like combs with the cells opening downward and are never enclosed in a paper envelope. A single egg is laid in each cell and the developing larva is fed primarily protein from insect prey. Paper Wasp nests are relatively small in size, containing around 150 to 250 cells and are around 2” to 6” in diameter.
Paper Wasps will hang their comb nests from twigs and branches in trees, under eaves, soffits, decks, railings, or almost any other protected place imaginable.
Paper Wasps are beneficial insects, helping control many other pest insects, but if their nest is located near human activity, control is needed. It is important to have a trained and licensed pest control operator treat the nests as well as the surrounding nesting sites to help prevent the rebuilding of nests during the current season.