Order and Family:
Vespidae, Vespid Wasps
5/8-7/8″ (15-21 mm). Slender, hornlike. Short 1-segmented “waist” (pedicel) between thorax and abdomen. Upper portion of head pointed, never notched, as in hornets and yellow jackets. Head and body dark reddish brown and yellow; first abdominal segment banded yellow. Male’s face pale, with antennae tips hooked; female has brown face. Wings amber to reddish brown.
Adult drinks nectar and juices from crushed and rotting fruits. Larva feeds on insects pre-chewed by adults.
In spring several females work together to construct uncovered paperlike, hanging nest of wood pulp and saliva. One female becomes dominant queen. 1st few generations in summer are all females, cared for as larvae by unmated female workers. Unfertilized eggs produce fertile males. Only mated young queens overwinter under leaf litter and in stone walls. Old queens, workers, and larvae die.
Meadows, fields, and gardens on flowers, and near buildings.
Common from British Columbia to the Canadian Maritime Provinces, south to West Virginia.
Paper Wasps are much more tolerant of people and minor disturbances than are hornets and yellow jackets.
WARNING: These wasps will sting if provoked or if their nest is disturbed, but they are usually not aggressive.