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Paper Wasp

Paper Wasp, common name for medium- to large-sized wasps that construct nests made of a papery material. The Paper Wasp has a small head, with medium sized eyes and medium length antennae. The body is slender, with a very narrow waist and the length is about 0.75 inches. There are two pairs of brown-tinted wings, with the first pair larger. The abdomen is yellow or may have yellow/orange bands.

Natural History

The nests of most species are suspended from a single, central stalk and have the shaped like inverted cones. Nests are made of plant and wood fibers which are collected by the wasps, mixed with saliva, and chewed into a papier-mâché-like material that is formed into the thin cells of the nest. The nests are constructed in protected places, such as under the eaves of buildings or in dense vegetation. Normally a colony of several to several dozen paper wasps inhabit the nest.

Paper Wasps use their sting for defense only. They subdue their prey (mainly caterpillars) with their powerful mandibles.

The colony is founded in early spring, soon after the queens (mated females) emerge from hibernation. As the colony matures, males and the next year's queens are produced. These queens mate with males and are the only members of the colony to survive through winter. In late summer or fall, the founding queen, workers (unmated females), and males all die. The newly mated queens hibernate, typically in piles of wood, in vegetation, or in holes. The following spring they emerge and begin the cycle anew.

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