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A paper wasp is a large wasp with long legs and brown/yellow markings. These social wasps help pollination by feeding on nectar—and because of this are typically seen as beneficial by gardeners. Paper wasps get their name thanks to the paper-like appearance of their nests, a material made from a water-resistant mixture of saliva and fibers from dead wood or plants.
Most paper wasps have a similar body shape to yellow jackets, but are somewhat slimmer with a thin “waist,” and six long legs. They have appear almost triangular from the side, and have a pair of wings and antennae. They are all mostly brown with some yellow coloration. Each of the known paper wasp species shares similar traits of this coloring, but have different color bands and markings that distinguish them from one another. Some species may even have hints of bolder colors like red, or even brighter colored lines compared to others.
Paper wasps are a group of several species of vespid wasp. These stinging insects are semi-social creatures, as they typically live in small colonies but do not have a worker caste. There are about 22 known species in North America and hundreds in the world. Some additional species of this type of insect include the annularis, apache, dominulus, dorsalis, and golden paper wasp. Similar groups to these wasps include yellow jackets and hornets, potter and mason wasps, spider wasps, and long-waisted paper wasps.
You can find paper wasps most typically in sheltered areas. This includes the eaves of a house, tree branches, open pipes, or old clotheslines. If you have come across a nest, stay calm! Unlike more aggressive vespids such as yellow jackets and bald-faced hornets, paper wasps will generally only become aggressive or attack if they or their nests have been threatened. However, this territorial behavior can result in attacks on humans and animals and can be dangerous.
If you believe to have found evidence of paper wasps near your home, do not hesitate to give us a call!