W*H*Y Wednesday: Golden or Northern Paper Wasp
This week's focus is on the Paper Wasp, Polistes fuscatus. This species is sometimes referred to as a Golden Paper Wasp or a Northern Paper Wasp.
P. fuscatus wasps are a dark reddish-brown color, with yellow bands across the body. They are distinguished from yellowjackets not only by their coloration but also by their pointed heads. Males of this species have curved antennae and more yellow on the front of the head.
Paper Wasp habits: P. fuscatus wasps are active during the day and rest on the nest at night. Adults feed on sugar and nectar-like food. They also prey on caterpillars, grasshoppers, locusts and crickets, using these protein sources to feed the larvae in the nest.
P. fuscatus is one of the most common wasps in North America. Even though this wasp is sometimes called the Northern Paper Wasp, it is found throughout the Eastern half of the United States and also in Montana, as illustrated by the highlighted portion of this map:
Paper Wasp nests: The native Paper Wasp tends to nest in woodlands and savannas, and can be found around manmade structures where exposed wood is available to be used for nest materials. Queens begin forming nests from wood and live plant fibers in the spring. Nests are a single paper-like comb of open hexagonal cells. The nests are oriented downwards and can contain up to 200 cells, with 20-30 adult wasps. They are relatively small in size and typically found in sheltered areas above or near ground level, such as eaves and roofs or even under rocks.
Nature toward humans: Paper Wasps are not terribly aggressive, but due to the proximity of the wasps to humans and their habitations in houses and other buildings, they can be dangerous. The females of these wasps have a venomous sting. Humans and domestic animals are at risk of aggravating Paper Wasps and suffering from stings.
This link on the University of Michigan site has more information on the P. fuscatus Paper Wasp.
Good news for those who have the P. fuscatus Paper Wasp in their backyard: The W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets will capture these wasps!
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