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Polistes Paper Wasp
(John Obermeyer, Purdue University)
Common Name: Polistes Paper Wasp

Order: Hymenoptera

Family: Vespidae

Pest Status: Paper wasps are considered pests when they nest near human structures, because they can sting if provoked.

Appearance: Paper wasps are 3/4 to 1-inch long, slender, narrow- waisted wasps with smoky black wings that are folded lengthwise when at rest. The body coloration varies widely depending upon species.

Life Cycle: Fertilized queens overwinter in protected habitats. In the spring, they select nesting sites and begin to build gray paper, open-faced nests. Eggs are laid singly in cells and hatch into larvae that develop through several instars before pupating. Cells remain open until developing larvae pupate. In late summer, the queens stop laying eggs and the colonies begins to decline. In the fall, mated female offspring of the queen seek overwintering sites.

Where to Collect: Paper wasps can be found on flowers, particularly goldenrod, in late fall or near their paper nests.