3/4 to 1 inch long
Body coloration varies with species: Smoky black wings, brown with yellow markings on the head, thorax and bands on the abdomen or all reddish-brown.
Nests are constructed in protected area, under eaves of structures, in hollowed out holes, or when voids can be accessed through a small entrance. Nests have been reported from exterior lighting fixtures, animal skulls, parking meters, bird boxes, gas grill, automobile and many other sites.
The nests of paper wasps are distinctive. They are formed in an upside-down umbrella fashion, and the open cells can be seen from below. Nests are constructed in protected area, under eaves of structures, in hollowed out holes, or when voids can be accessed through a small entrance. Nests have been reported from exterior lighting fixtures, animal skulls, parking meters, bird boxes, gas grills, automobiles and many other sites. Paper wasps over winter as fertilized queens which begin new colonies each year. They spend the winter in any of a variety of protected areas. Queens will occasionally use a previous year's nest to begin a new colony. The queen deposits a small elongated egg in each cell of a nest, which hatches in a few days. She will collect caterpillars and other insects which are masticated and fed to the developing larvae. After the first brood of Larvae mature, pupate, and emerge as adults of the worker caste; the queen will limit her activity to laying eggs. The workers assume all of the food collecting and nest protection duties. With summertime temperatures and a plentiful food supply, a generation can be completed in 40 days. The European paper wasp has already largely replaced the native species in much of the region. Some reasons for the competitive advantage to P. dominulus over our native paper wasps include: Earlier establishment of colonies in the spring, which allows it a competitive advantage in collection of early season prey. Early nest establishment also avoids some bird predation, and allows the production of early season workers to hunt for prey and protect developing larvae. The habit of using protected nesting sites provides protection from predation. The European paper wasp utilizes small holes and voids to make nests, which are sites the native species does not exploit to the same extent.
Paper wasps prey on insects such as caterpillars, flies and beetle larvae which they feed to larvae. They actively forage during the day and all colony members rest on the nest at night.
Paper wasp Prevention Tips
- Repair holes in walls, caulk cracks in soffits and eaves, screen vents. Eliminating early season nests will aid in controlling later season nests. Single queens are much easier to control than nests with many workers.
- Wasp and Hornet sprays in aerosol cans are a preferred method of controlling nests with workers that are easily accessed. These shoot a spray of insecticides up to 20 feet.
- Following treatment, wait a day to ensure that the colony is destroyed, then scrape or knock down the nest. This will prevent secondary problems from carpet beetles, ants and other scavenging insects.
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