What are Paper Wasps?
They get their common name from the paper-like material out of which they make their nests. These wasps are sometimes called umbrella wasps, after the shape of their distinctive nests.
These wasps are a group of several species of vespid wasp. These stinging insects are semi-social creatures, as they typically live in small colonies but do not have a worker caste. There are about 22 known wasp species in North America, and hundreds in the world. Some additional species of this type of insect include the annularis paper wasp, apache paper wasp, dominulus paper wasp, dorsalis paper wasp and golden paper wasp. Similar groups to paper wasps include yellowjackets and hornets, potter and mason wasps, spider wasps and long waisted paper wasps.
- Color: Brownish with yellow markings; a few species with reddish markings
- Legs: 6
- Shape: Wasp-like, with long legs
- Size: 5/8 – 3/4” (16-20 mm)
- Antennae: Yes
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What Do Paper Wasps Look Like
These wasps generally have a similar body shape to yellowjackets, but somewhat slimmer with a thin “waist,” with six long legs and an almost triangular side view, as well as two wings and antennae. They are mostly brown with some yellow coloration. Each of the known paper wasp species share similar traits of brown and yellow coloring, but they also have different bands of colors and markings that separate them from one another. Some species of wasp may even have hints of bolder colors like red, or even brighter colored lines compared to others.
Signs of an Infestation
Paper wasps often build nests in residential yards, so one of the main signs of an infestation is the physical sighting of the nest itself and nearby wasps moving around the nest.
The best way to prevent a wasp infestation and the potential of getting stung is to make the home less attractive to the stinging insect. Before trimming shrubs or hedges, or picking fruit, check the plant for paper wasp nests to avoid contact with these stinging insects. Seal cracks and crevices in the home with a silicone-based caulk, repair any tears in screens, and try to keep doors closed to prevent wasps from entering the home.
Keeping food covered, especially when outdoors, will also help keep these insects at bay when they are in search of nourishment. When spending time outside, people should avoid wearing strong fragrances and opt for unscented hygienic products. Likewise, they should wear shoes that cover and protect their feet from rogue wasps.
Paper Wasp Infestation
Paper Wasp Removal
If you suspect you have a wasp infestation or find a wasp nest on your property, contact PMi to find out about wasp treatment. Do not attempt wasp nest removal on your own, as there is a high probability the paper wasps will protect their home by stinging you.
Paper Wasp Sting
Wasp stings can be very painful and can cause the same risk of allergic reaction as other insect stings. The location of the sting will become red and swollen. If you get stung by a wasp, immediately clean the area with soap and cold water. If the sting is on an extremity, consider elevating the limb. Over the counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce pain, while an antihistamine and hydrocortisone ointment can help calm the local reaction. If the pain worsens, contact your healthcare provider.
While not an aggressive species by nature, these wasps will sting if they are disturbed or their nest is threatened. It’s unusual for an impregnated wasp to sting, but it can happen.
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