7 Types of Paper Wasps Explained

Types of Paper Wasps
Photo by Johnnys_pic

There are about 200 types of paper wasps, and they are all classified under the family Vespidae.

Paper wasps are vespid wasps that collect fibers from dead wood and plant stems.

Together with their saliva, these fibers are used to make nests made of a papery material that is either gray or brown in color.

Because of the unusual structure of their nests, several species of paper wasps are also frequently referred to as umbrella wasps. 

In North America, you’ll find various types of paper wasps living in places like meadows, fields, and gardens.

The larvae are fed pre-chewed insects and caterpillars, while the adults consume the nectar and juices from rotting fruits.

Common Types of Paper Wasps

1. Northern Paper Wasp

Northern Paper Wasp
by Dendroica cerulea is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The dark or northern paper wasps reside throughout much of the eastern part of North America, from the southernmost parts of Canada to the southernmost parts of the United States. It does so frequently in the vicinity of human growth.

However, These types of paper wasps have a strong preference for environments in which wood is easily accessible to make nest material; as a result, you can find them near savannas and forests.

The northern paper wasp is a species of social wasp that lives in a complex society centered on a single dominating foundress and other foundresses and a dominant hierarchy.

Although the P. fuscatus likes to build its nest in woodland regions because there are more readily available building materials, this species frequently inhabit areas that humans occupy.

The wasps make their nests out of wood obtained from their natural environment; They mix it with the saliva produced by their mouths to create a pulp-like substance.

2. European Paper Wasp

European Paper Wasp
by gbohne is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The European paper wasp is a social wasp species belonging to the genus Polistes. It is one of the most common and well-known species in this group.

Its diet is more diverse than most other Polistes species, consisting of many different genera of insects as opposed to the primary prey of other Polistes species.

This gives it an advantage over other types of paper wasps species in terms of its ability to survive when resources are scarce.

The subordinate females, also known as auxiliaries or laborers, are primarily responsible for foraging and do not lay eggs.

On the other hand, the dominant females are the primary egg layers. However, this hierarchy does not remain in place indefinitely.

When the queen leaves the nest, the second-most dominant female assumes the function of the queen that she had replaced.

In males, the variance of spots on their abdomens is a sign of who is dominant in the group. Because of its excellent survival characteristics, such as a fruitful colony cycle, a fast development time, and a higher ability to resist attacks from predators, the European paper wasp is widespread worldwide.

These types of paper wasps prefer to make their home in temperate, terrestrial environments, such as scrub, forest, and grassland biomes.

They also have the propensity to colonize surrounding human civilizations because man-made structures have the potential to serve as excellent shelters and are close to resources such as food.

3. Southwestern Texas Paper Wasp

Southwestern Texas Paper Wasp
by JB is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

The western region of North America is home to the southwestern Texas paper wasp.

It has also been referred to as the Apache wasp, most likely for the first time in 1948 in the state of California by Simmons et al.

The Southwestern Texas paper wasp can frequently reside in fig orchards, which is a pest species due to the aggressive attacks and painful stings it inflicts on agricultural laborers during the harvest season in September and October.

It is possible to find it occasionally in vineyards or other kinds of orchards; however, in California, it is more frequent to find it establishing nests in or on houses in metropolitan areas, typically in the attics or underneath the eaves of buildings.

The common name for the kind of wasp known as paper wasps comes from the fact that these insects build their nests out of papery materials. 

A common place for these types of paper wasps to nest is in fruit orchards and vineyards; however, they can also thrive in more urban locations.

It would indicate that the southwestern Texas paper wasp species originated in environments more closely related to grassland and mesquite than they did in woody regions.

4. Red Paper Wasp

Red Paper Wasp
by insectsunlocked is licensed under CC CC0 1.0

The red paper wasp is one of two types of paper wasps in the eastern United States. It belongs to the Vespidae family, the subfamily Polistinae, and the genus Polistes.

Their natural habitat range in the United States extends from Texas to Florida, up to New York, and west to Nebraska.

The popular name of the wasp comes from the color of its head and body, which is a reddish-brown tint. Nesting sites for the red paper wasp are typically in secluded and secure areas.

They will also regularly build their nests in artificial structures, such as the undersides of bridges, rooftops, chimneys, and eaves.

The most prevalent locations of these types of paper wasps are the eastern states of the United States, extending from Nebraska to Texas and all along the Atlantic coast.

Additionally, an accidental population of this species was discovered in Ontario, Canada, and They intentionally sent it to Bermuda.

It has a strong preference for secluded sites to nest in, such as hollow trees and wooded settings. On the other hand, if given a chance, it will also establish nests near humans, such as on the undersides of rooftops.

5. Polybiine Paper Wasp

The western region of North America is home to these types of paper wasps. Their nests can be discovered either in forests close to rivers or in close proximity to human life under the eaves of roofs.

Even though M. hyemalis is not dangerous to humans, M. hyemalis pose a threat to other nests of the Polybiine paper wasp nests and regularly comes close to human habitation.

Their colony cycle’s average beginning occurs before May and continues until October. After that, the queen will look for a place to hibernate over the winter. Near the hibernation places of the females are males who will become the female’s mates.

The males have staked their claim to the land by rubbing their sternal brushes along the area’s boundary, which leaves behind a chemical that discourages other individuals from visiting the site.

Birds, ants, and praying mantises are common predators of the Polybiine Paper Wasp because of their diet of arthropods, nectar, and animal carcasses.

These types of paper wasps are also preyed upon by other species of the Polybiine Paper Wasp. They erect their Nests on vertical walls or asymmetrical oval shapes, although these nests are uncommon.

There are normally fewer than 300 cells in each nest, which results in a relatively small nest for each colony. The cells have comb-like shapes that slope downward.

You can find their nests in deciduous and evergreen trees at lower elevations, whereas they prefer coniferous trees for nesting at higher elevations.

The average distance from where they construct their nests is usually fifty meters from rivers. These types of paper wasps will nest in constructed environments, specifically in enclosed and protected places such as wall voids and the underside of eves.

6. Guinea Paper Wasp

Guinea Paper Wasp
by Judy Gallagher is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Guinea paper wasp belongs to the family Vespidae, a suborder of Hymenoptera.

You can also find these types of paper wasps in Mexico, the Bahamas, Jamaica, and certain regions of Canada.

The United States and Mexico are the most common places to find them.

Exclamans has been expanding its range over the past few decades, and it now encompasses the eastern half of the United States and a portion of the northern half.

The traditional explanation for this growth is the alteration of temperatures and climates around the globe.

The guinea paper wasp has three distinct castes: males, workers, and queens.

However, the dominance structure is quite unusual because dominance depends on age.

Compared to other wasps in the colony, a wasp’s age is essential in determining its position. 

In most guinea paper wasp nests, only one queen is responsible for laying eggs for the entire colony.

P. exclaman’s nests are generally open and small and frequently get attacked by predators and parasites.

So, these paper wasps have developed defensive and recognition mechanisms that protect them from attacks by predators and parasites.

These types of paper wasps nest close to artificial structures, and they have the propensity to construct nests more readily in and around these man-made structures.

The guinea paper wasp is the only species of the six types of wasps that inhabit artificial nesting sites. 

They use wood fiber from plant stems and posts to construct their nests.

The wasps work the fiber into the shape of a comb that resembles paper and has hexagonal cells.

They build the nests so the entrance faces downward, and a single thread supports each nest.

These types of paper wasps also occupy artificial nests made by researchers. Researchers place these nests in the wild.

7. Metric Paper Wasp

Metric Paper Wasp
by cricketsblog is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The metric paper wasp is a species of wasp that is native to North America.

Its distribution in the United States extends from the southern Midwest through the South and up to New York in the northeast.

The Polistes metricus have dark coloration with golden tarsi and black tibia. It is possible to find nests of the species Polistes metricus stuck to the sides of buildings, trees, or shrubs.

It is not uncommon for its nests to become intertwined with other wasp species, and areas that are home to one of these species will typically also be home to nests belonging to the other species, often in close proximity to one another.

The metric paper wasp prefers to get its water from larger bodies of water, such as ponds, rather than from smaller sources.

During the warm summer months, they make repeated excursions to various watering holes to replenish their fluids.

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