Paper Wasp

Actual Size: 3/4 to 1 1/2”

Characteristics: Black abdomen, mahogany body with distinct yellow ring, black wings

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: Live in umbrella-shaped, paper-like nests in residential yards. Nests often hang from twigs and branches, porch ceilings, and more.

Habits:

  • Female wasps will help each other build nests but only one queen will lay eggs
  • Known as semi-social wasps that live in small colonies without a worker caste
  • Have a thinner waist than yellowjackets

Paper Wasps in Illinois and Indiana

Paper wasps are one of the most common types of wasps in the Midwest and throughout the nation, and there are over 22 species in the nation. Most paper wasps are a brownish color with classic yellow markings, and people often confuse them. Often confused with yellowjackets, paper wasps are sometimes referred to as umbrella wasps, which refers to the shape of their unique nests. Paper wasps are unique in that they have no worker caste. Instead, other female paper wasps tend to the nest while the queen lays its eggs. Like other types of wasps, paper wasps feed on insects such as caterpillars as well as spiders.

Paper Wasp Habitat

Paper wasp nests look like upside-down umbrellas and have a papier-mȃché feel to them. Unlike yellow jackets, paper wasp nests are somewhat open and not completely covered. Nests can most often be found either on tree branches or under eaves, attic rafters, and porch ceilings. Because nests can be built directly on a home, these wasps have been known to make their way indoors through holes in attic vent screens or underneath shingles. Paper wasps are able to rebuild nests quickly if their nest is destroyed for one reason or another.

Paper Wasp Behaviors, Threats, & Dangers

Similarly to mud daubers, paper wasps are considered to be beneficial to the environment for keeping the insect population under control. They also assist in pollination by feeding on nectar. Paper wasps are considered aggressive and have been known to sting repeatedly when threatened. For this reason, it’s important to never disturb their nest. As with many types of stinging insects, their sting can be very painful.

If you notice a paper wast nest forming on your property, it’s important to contact your local pest control experts. Never attempt to take down a nest on your own.