Yale Park Homeowners Association News and Information from the
Yale Park Homeowners Association
Yale Park Homeowners Association

Texas AgriLife Extension Service

Kimberly Schofield
Program Specialist-Urban IPM

Paper Wasp Nests Are Popping Up

As the temperature warms, we will begin to see paper wasps actively constructing nests. Adult paper wasps are 3/4 to 1 inches in length and have a long, slender, narrow-waist. There are two species of paper wasps, Polistes exclamans which is brown with yellow markings on the head, thorax and bands on the abdomen and Polistes carolina which is a uniform reddish-brown, both having smoky colored wings. They are most commonly noticed flying during the day in search of food.

Paper wasp nests are open and composed of wood fibers. These fibers are chewed and formed into hexagonal cells arranged in a comb-like shape. These nests can be found underneath eaves, in structures, or around plants. The nests are oriented downward and are suspended by a single filament. Adult paper wasps prey on insects such as caterpillars, flies and beetle larvae, which they feed to developing larvae. This makes them a beneficial insect.

In the spring, the fertile queens find a nesting site and begin to build a nest. They will lay a single egg inside each nest cell. The eggs hatch into larvae and then molt several times before pupating. The nest cells will remain open until pupation. The worker wasps help to construct the nest, feed the young and defend the nest from other insects. A mature nest may have between 20 to 30 adults.

In late summer, the queens stop laying eggs and the colony declines. In the fall, only the mated females will find overwintering sites, while the rest of the colony dies.

Paper wasps are usually confused with yellow jackets and bald-faced hornets, but these wasps have closed-celled nests.

Some Control Options:

Non-Chemical Options:

Since paper wasps feed on caterpillars and other insects, they are considered beneficial insects.  Other people may be highly allergic to the sting, so removal of the wasps nest from the area around structures is necessary.  Nests can be knocked down from eaves using a high pressure water spray.

Chemical Control Options:

Also pressurized sprays of insecticidal soaps and oils can be used.  Residual insecticides can be used, such as those containing the active ingredients deltamethrin or cyfluthrin.

Be sure to take precautions when treating, so the wasps will not attack nearby people or pets.  Remember only the females can sting, since they have a modified egg-laying structure (an ovipositor).

Adult paper wasp
Adult paper wasp..
Photo by Bart Drees, Texas A&M University.

Mention of commercial products is for educational purposes only and does not represent endorsement by Texas AgriLife Extension or The Texas A&M University System.  Insecticide label registrations are subject to change, and changes may have occurred since this publication was printed.  The pesticide user is always responsible for applying products in accordance with label directions.  Always read and carefully follow the instructions on the container label.

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