W*H*Y Wednesday: We catch another wasp!

Just when we thought we knew the 20 species caught in the W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets, we learned this week that we catch another species of Paper Wasp -- bringing the total wasp species to 7 and the entire species count to 21!

Thanks to some data gained in testing in the southern U.S., we've determined that our trap catches Polistes exclamans, also known as the Common Paper Wasp.

Exclamans_Common_Paper_Wasp This species is 5/8 inches long and displays extensive red coloration on the head, thorax and abdomen. The abdomen has bands of red, black and yellow and one large red and black band toward the top. Queens and female workers have a predominantly red thorax, while males are mostly black. Antenna will be red with a prominent black midsection.

Common Paper Wasps hunt caterpillars to feed nest larvae and feed on sugars and flower nectar.  Workers will rest on the nest at night and during periods of cooler weather.

Common Paper Wasps are not typically aggressive, but will sting if provoked or if they feel their nest is threatened.  Males also exhibit territorial behavior, which is unusual for Paper Wasp species.

Exclamans_Common_Paper_Wasp_Nest The Common Paper Wasp is found in Texas, Oklahoma and Florida; as far north as New Jersey, Indiana and Illinois; and west to Nebraska and Colorado. It is considered an introduced (non-native) species in southern California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Hawaii.

Common Paper Wasp nests resemble the upside-down umbrella shape and open-honeycomb design of other paper wasp species, and are usually found in sheltered locations near human activity-- most  commonly in roof eaves and trees.

WHYTR_200dpi Good news if you have this species in your back yard: The W*H*Y Trap from RESCUE! will catch the Common Paper Wasp!

March 4, 2009 in Entomology, Science, Wasps, WHY Trap | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Boys love bugs

Two days ago, we hosted a local Boy Scout troop at our offices. To receive their science badges, they had to visit a lab and meet a scientist. Our R&D Department was more than happy to oblige with a tour through our insect research lab.

R&D Director Dr. Qing-He Zhang talks about how we re-create scents to which the insects are attracted:

Scent sample collection 

The kids take turns looking through the microscope at an insect antenna hooked up to our Electro-Antenna Detector (EAD), which measures the antenna's response to different scents.

EAD microscope 

Research Scientist Doreen Hoover shows the boys some Spined Soldier Bugs in a petri dish:

P1000422 

The Scouts pose for a photo with their new scientist friends:

Group 

We have an appreciation for science here at Sterling, and Dr. Zhang feels there are too few scientists in the world today. I hope this visit stoked the boys' interest in biology, chemistry and entomology -- they certainly liked the bugs!

February 18, 2009 in Kid stuff, Life at Sterling, Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

W*H*Y Wednesday: The Western Yellowjacket

Today's post closes out the W*H*Y Wednesday series we started in Fall 2008 that focused on each of the 20 species caught in the W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets.

Last, but certainly not least, is Vespula pensylvanica, the Western Yellowjacket.

Pensylvanica_Western_YJ_Queen Western Yellowjackets are most easily identified by the yellow ring surrounding the upper portion of the eye, commonly called an “eye loop”.  Their abdominal markings closely resemble that of the German Yellowjacket, marked with a black diamond on the uppermost segment.  Roughly a half inch in length, like other yellowjacket species, they will have stout bodies, black antennae and yellow legs.

The Western Yellowjacket is found not only in the Western U.S., but also the Upper Midwest, as illustrated in the map below:

Western_yellowjacket 

Western Yellowjackets will scavenge for protein and sugar, becoming "picnic pests". This species is known to create severe problems for loggers, fruit growers and those engaged in outdoor activities.

Pensylvanica_Western_YJ_nest The majority of Western Yellowjacket nests are found in abandoned rodent burrows, but they've also been found in attics and building walls. Colonies range from 1000 to 5000 workers at peak size. In warmer climates, entire colonies can overwinter -- not just the queen.

Western Yellowjackets may be a hazard if agitated while scavenging. They are also a stinging hazard if the nest is disturbed. Western Yellowjackets can be very annoying to humans, since they are likely to be found near human activity.

Here's a video we shot of a Western Yellowjacket nest, located under the front steps of a house:

WHYTR_200dpi Good news if you have this species in your back yard: the W*H*Y Trap from RESCUE! will catch Western Yellowjackets!

February 11, 2009 in Entomology, Science, WHY Trap, Yellowjackets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

W*H*Y Wednesday: The Transition Yellowjacket

Today's featured species is Vespula flavopilosa, the Transition Yellowjacket.

If insects could experience human emotions, V. flavopilosa would probably have an identity crisis. This species (sometimes called a Hybrid Yellowjacket) is so named because it's thought to be a cross between the Eastern and German Yellowjacket, and possibly related to the Common and Western Yellowjacket. Like these other species, Transition Yellowjackets have yellow and black coloration and a stout body, and are roughly 1/2 inch in length.

V. flavopilosa is also occasionally called the "Downy Yellowjacket" or "Yellow-haired Yellowjacket" because of the fine yellow hairs all over its body -- as shown in the top photo on this site.

This species is found in the Northeastern U.S., as illustrated on the map below:

Transition_yellowjacket

Transition Yellowjackets will scavenge for protein, are attracted to meats and sugary foods, and may be pests around trash cans and picnics. They are less likely to be near human dwellings than other species such as the German Yellowjacket and Eastern Yellowjacket. This species is a stinging hazard if agitated while scavenging or if the nest is disturbed.

Their nests are subterranean, carton-shaped and tan-colored with 500-1,000 workers. Common nest sites are in yards, along roadsides and sometimes within structures.

WHYTR_200dpi Good news if you have this species in your back yard: The W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets will catch Transition Yellowjackets!

February 4, 2009 in Entomology, Science, WHY Trap, Yellowjackets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

W*H*Y Wednesday: the Southern Yellowjacket

Today's featured species is Vespula squamosa, known as the Southern Yellowjacket.

This yellowjacket has been a thorn (sting?) in the side of people who live in warmer climates, because its colonies can survive the winter and grow to become massive. Monster yellowjacket nests like this one in Florida and this one in Georgia (100,000 yellowjackets in the cab of a truck) are most likely built by V. squamosa.

Squamosa_Southern_YJ The Southern Yellowjacket can be distinguished from other yellowjackets in the southern U.S. by two long, yellow stripes on the thorax. Its stout body is about 5/8 inches long, which is larger than average for most yellowjackets. The Southern Yellowjacket queen is distinguished by an orange abdomen with very few black bands.

Southern Yellowjackets will scavenge for protein and are attracted to meats and sugary foods, and may be pests around trash cans and picnics. In warm climates, some Southern Yellowjacket colonies can overwinter, lasting longer than a year. This species is considered a social parasite to other yellowjackets, usually taking over Eastern Yellowjacket nests.

Southern Yellowjackets inhabit the southern and eastern U.S., as far north as PA and MI, and as far west as TX. Their "footprint" is shown in the highlighted portion of the map below:

Southern_yellowjacket 

Squamosa_Southern_YJ_nest_3 Southern Yellowjacket nests are likely to be found in urban and suburban areas, such as yards, parks and roadsides. Most nests are subterranean, but Southern Yellowjacket nests have been reported in aerial locations and house wall voids. Peak population usually ranges between 500 and 4000 workers. Entire colonies -- not just the queen -- can overwinter in warmer climates.

Colonies are typically large, so disturbing a nest can result in swarming. Since nests are usually found in urban and recreational areas, there is a greater risk of stings and surprise encounters.

 WHYTR_200dpi Good news if you have this species in your back yard: the new W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets from RESCUE! will catch Southern Yellowjackets!

January 28, 2009 in Entomology, Science, WHY Trap, Yellowjackets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

W*H*Y Wednesday: The Prairie Yellowjacket

Atropilosa_Prairie_YJ Today's featured species is Vespula atropilosa, also known as the Prairie Yellowjacket. This is one of the common species we have in our back yards here in the Pacific Northwest.

This species has been observed with two different marking patterns on the abdomen, one of which closely resembles the Forest Yellowjacket.  However, the abdominal markings most commonly seen have mostly yellow coloration, thin black bands with center points and black dots.

The Prairie Yellowjacket is found in the highlighted areas in the map below:

Pairie_yellowjacket 

Prairie Yellowjackets are predators of only live prey such as spiders, flies, caterpillars and hemipterans.  They are not known to hunt other wasp, hornet or yellowjacket species.

This species is abundant in prairie and open forest areas, but are also known to nest in lawns, pastures and golf courses.  Most nests are subterranean, but some have been found in wall cavities.  Their nests are typically smaller colonies with less than 500 workers.

Prairie Yellowjackets are not a serious stinging hazard unless the nest is disturbed.  Because they frequently nest in lawns, this species and its nests are more likely to be found near human activity.

Here is more information about the Prairie Yellowjacket.

WHYTR_200dpi Good news if you have this species in your area: The new W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets will catch Prairie Yellowjackets!

January 21, 2009 in Entomology, Science, WHY Trap, Yellowjackets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

W*H*Y Wednesday: The Northeastern Yellowjacket

This week's featured species is the Northeastern Yellowjacket (Vespula vidua), found in the highlighted portion of the map below. It's a safe bet that most members of this species are quiet right now, with the frigid temps in that part of the U.S. But as with other yellowjackets, the queens will emerge in early spring to look for new nest sites.

Northeastern_yellowjacket 

Like some Forest Yellowjackets, the Northeastern Yellowjacket is most easily recognized by the thick black band across the upper portion of its abdomen. However, the Northeastern Yellowjacket will never have the two extra spots through the black band, which are present on many Forest Yellowjackets. This species is often called a ground hornet, most likely due to its larger than average size, roughly 5/8 inches long.

Northeastern Yellowjackets commonly make subterranean nests in high traffic areas such as yards and pastures, as well as some forested areas. However, their nests can also be found in logs and manmade structures. Colonies last one year and rarely grow beyond 500 adult workers. Adults feed on sugary foods and forage for live insects to feed larvae.

Northeastern Yellowjackets are not a serious stinging hazard unless the nest is disturbed. However, due to nesting habits in areas of human traffic, the chances of human interaction are increased.

WHYTR_200dpi Good news if you have this species in your back yard: The W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets will catch Northeastern Yellowjackets!

January 14, 2009 in Entomology, Science, WHY Trap, Yellowjackets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

W*H*Y Wednesday: The German Yellowjacket

Germanica_German_YJ_2 Today's featured species is Vespula germanica: The German Yellowjacket.

Like most yellowjackets, the German Yellowjacket is roughly a half-inch long with yellow and black coloration.  It possesses an arrow shape at the top of the abdomen, much like the Eastern or Transition Yellowjacket, but this marking on the German Yellowjacket is usually narrower than that of other species.

Introduced to the U.S. from Europe, the German Yellowjacket is found primarily in the Northeast. This species is rapidly expanding and now found in limited areas in the Western states of Washington and California. The highlighted areas in the map below show the German Yellowjacket's footprint.

German_yellowjacket 

German Yellowjackets are “picnic pests”, frequently scavenging for meats and sugary foods and hovering around trash cans and barbecues. They are a hazard if agitated while scavenging. 

Their nests are primarily found in wall voids and structures, but may be subterranean as well. The photos below show a subterranean nest which our scientists excavated several years ago.

Nest_inside 

IMG_4757 

IMG_4771 

WHYTR_200dpi Good news for those who have this species in their backyard: the new  from RESCUE! will catch German Yellowjackets!


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January 7, 2009 in Entomology, Science, WHY Trap, Yellowjackets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

W*H*Y Wednesday: The Forest Yellowjacket

Today's featured species, as we close out 2008, is the Forest Yellowjacket, Vespula acadica.

Acadica_Forest_YJ This species is known to have three different marking patterns. Many will resemble the Northeastern Yellowjacket with a solid black band across the upper portion of the abdomen; though the majority will have two yellow or brown spots on this black band. Most rarely observed are the specimens without the black band and more yellow coloration on the abdomen. Their stout bodies measure roughly a half-inch in length like most other yellowjacket species.

The Forest Yellowjackets' habitat is, naturally, in heavily forested areas. The highlighted portion of the map below shows where they are found in the U.S.:

Forest_yellowjacket

Forest Yellowjacket colonies last for one year. They are predators of live prey only, such as flies, caterpillars, hemipterans and aphids.

Forest Yellowjackets typically build aerial nests, but subterranean nests in logs are not uncommon. This species usually has smaller colonies, with fewer than 500 workers.

Nature toward humans: Because this species is primarily found in more heavily forested areas, the Forest Yellowjacket has limited contact with humans. If the nest is disturbed, Forest Yellowjackets will sting aggressively and persistently.

WHYTR_200dpi Good news if you have this species in your back yard: the new W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets from RESCUE! will catch Forest Yellowjackets!

And even more good news: We shipped our first truckload of W*H*Y Traps yesterday, and more are on the way in coming weeks.

Thanks for following us, and Happy New Year, readers!

December 31, 2008 in Entomology, Science, WHY Trap, Yellowjackets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

W*H*Y Wednesday: the Eastern Yellowjacket

Maculifrons_Eastern_YJ Today's featured species is Vespula maculifrons, or the Eastern Yellowjacket. This species can be distinguished from other yellowjackets by the wide arrow shape at the top of its abdomen. Eastern Yellowjackets carry all the typical yellowjacket physical characteristics, such as a half-inch long stout body, yellow and black coloration, yellow legs and black antennae.

The Eastern Yellowjacket is found in a large section of the U.S. east of the Rockies, as shown in the highlighted portion of the map below:

Eastern_yellowjacket 

Eastern Yellowjacket colonies are often found in yards, golf courses, recreational areas and manmade structures. They will scavenge for human food, and therefore are considered "picnic pests".

Eastern Yellowjackets typically build subterranean nests in yards, along roadsides, hardwood forests and creek banks, and in urban areas such as attics and manmade structures. Nests range from 4-12 inches in diameter and are tannish-brown in color, with larger colonies consisting of 3000-5000 workers. Entire colonies -- not just the queen -- can overwinter in warmer climates.

Again, Eastern Yellowjackets are "picnic pests" and can be dangerous if agitated while they are scavenging. They are also a stinging hazard if the nest is disturbed. Since this species is more likely to be found around human activity, Eastern Yellowjackets present more of a stinging hazard than other species.

WHYTR_200dpi Good news if you have this species in your backyard: The new W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets will catch Eastern Yellowjackets!

December 23, 2008 in Entomology, Science, WHY Trap, Yellowjackets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

W*H*Y Wednesday: The Common Yellowjacket

Today's featured species is Vespula Vulgaris -- the Common Yellowjacket.

Vulgaris_Common_YJ As its name suggests, the Common Yellowjacket possesses all the most common features of yellowjackets: stout body, roughly 1/2 inch in length, yellow and black coloration, yellow legs and black antennae.

As for their habits, Common Yellowjackets will scavenge for protein and are attracted to meats and sugary foods. They are often pests around trash cans and picnics. Colonies will last for one year.

The highlighted portion of the map below shows where Common Yellowjackets are found in the U.S.:

Common_yellowjacket 

Common Yellowjacket nests are typically constructed in logs, rotting stumps, and in the soil. They are alos commonly found in between the walls of structures. Nests are very brittle and are red to tannish-brown in color.

Nature toward humans: Common Yellowjackets are "picnic pests" and quite annoying to humans. They are also a stinging hazard if agitated while they are scavenging, or if the nest is disturbed.

WHYTR_200dpi Good news if you have this species in your backyard: The new W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets from RESCUE! will catch the Common Yellowjacket!


December 17, 2008 in Entomology, Science, WHY Trap, Yellowjackets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

W*H*Y Wednesday: Aerial Yellowjackets

Today we move on from paper wasps and hornets to yellowjackets, and we start with Dolichovespula arenaria, the Aerial Yellowjacket.

022 Like most yellowjacket species, Aerial Yellowjackets have the typical stout bodies with yellow and black coloration.  They have been observed by our RESCUE!® field scientists as having even more plump abdomens than what is common to yellowjackets.  This species measures about a half inch long.

Aerial Yellowjackets are found in the West, Upper Midwest and Northeast United States, as illustrated in the highlighted portion of the map below:

Aerial_yellowjacket   

Aerial Yellowjackets are not typically "picnic pests", but they may be attracted to sugary foods such as fruit and soft drinks. They also have been known to follow humans around, though not with the intent to sting. This species will forage for only live prey such as grasshoppers, leafhoppers, tree crickets, flies and spiders.

Aerial Yellowjacket nests are usually constructed above ground. They are commonly found on structures such as houses, sheds and garages, and also in the tops of trees. Their nests look similar to the nests of Bald-faced Hornets.

We have two photos of Aerial Yellowjacket nests which we personally encountered about six years ago. The first one was built inside the wall void of a pool house and spilled out as it grew late in the season:

042

And this one was under the eave of a two-story residence:

138 

Stings are most common when Aerial Yellowjackets build nests on human structures (as above), or when hidden nests are accidentally disturbed.

WHYTR_200dpi Good news for those who have this species in their backyard: the new W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets will catch Aerial Yellowjackets!

November 26, 2008 in Entomology, Science, WHY Trap, Yellowjackets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

W*H*Y Wednesday: European Hornet

Today's featured species is Vespa crabro, known commonly as the European Hornet -- or sometimes as a Giant Hornet.

Crabro_European Hornet European Hornets are easily recognized by their large size and black, yellow and rusty red coloration.  About an inch long with a plump body shape, the European Hornet can appear rather intimidating.  Their heads are yellow and red and thorax is black with red markings.  The abdomen starts out red and continues with bands of yellow and black.

The European Hornet is found in the U.S. mainly East of the Mississippi and also in Minnesota, as illustrated in the highlighted portion of the map below.

European_hornet   

Although typically active during the daytime, European Hornet workers may fly at night in humid, windless conditions and are attracted to external lighting and windowpanes. European Hornets have an exceptionally long seasonal cycle, reproducing from late August through November. Workers prey on a variety of insects -- including grasshoppers, flies, honeybees and yellowjackets -- to feed their larvae. Hornets can also "girdle" a variety of trees for sap, including ash, lilac, horse chestnut, dogwood, dahlia, rhododendron, boxwood and birch. This often results in the death of the tree.

Crabro_European_Hornet_Nest European Hornet nests are typically built in hollow trees, but can also be found in barns, sheds, attics and wall voids in buildings. Frequently, the nests are built in the openings of protected cavities. Nests built in wall voids can emit a stench. Mature nests usually have 300-500 workers, but they sometimes can number up to 1,000. Colonies last for one year and only the queen survives the winter.

Nature toward humans: European Hornets are not typically aggressive unless handled, or the colony is threatened. Though the European Hornet prefers forested areas to urban settings, many suburban homes in the U.S. are located near these wooded habitats, which increases the likelihood of human contact.

WHYTR_200dpi Good news for those who have this species in their backyard: The new W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets will catch European Hornets!

And if you have encountered European Hornets, we want to hear from you -- either with a comment here on our blog, or by sharing your story on our web site.

November 19, 2008 in Entomology, Hornets, Science, WHY Trap | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bugs beware! Sterling has chemistry with new scientist

As of last week, we have a new scientist in our insect research lab. Here's the press release:

SPOKANE, WA, November 17, 2008 -- Sterling International, manufacturer of RESCUE!® Pest Control Products, welcomed new scientist Dr. Guiji Zhou this week to the company's Research and Development Department, strengthening its world-class insect research lab.

Dr. Zhou brings expertise in analytical and organic chemistry, having previously worked at the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. With the addition of Dr. Zhou, Sterling employs eight scientists, including three Ph.D.s, who are experts in developing advanced pest control technology.

RESCUE!® products use scented attractants to lure pest insects into traps, where they die naturally without chemical killing agents. Dr. Zhou's responsibilities will include identifying and creating these attractants, and the technology that dispenses the scents.

The scientists at Sterling are constantly searching for new ways to efficiently and safely control pests. "Research and Development is a collaborative endeavor; the more great minds the better," said Rod Schneidmiller, founder and president of Sterling International.

Sterling's most recent R&D breakthrough is the new W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets, which will be on retail shelves in 2009. The Research & Development Team is also working on a portable mosquito repellent device under a $730,000 grant from the United States Department of Defense.

According to Schneidmiller, the future of Sterling is innovation and "having a world-class Research and Development department just makes that future brighter."

END

Dr. Zhou photoHere's a photo of Dr. Zhou, flanked by President Rod Schneidmiller on the left, and Director of Research Dr. Qing-He Zhang on the right.

November 18, 2008 in Life at Sterling, Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

W*H*Y Wednesday: The Bald-faced Hornet

Today's featured insect is the big, bad, bold Bald-faced Hornet.

First off, we will note that the Bald-faced Hornet is not a true hornet, but rather is closely related to the genus Vespula (yellowjackets).

Maculata_Bald-faced_Hornet Bald-faced Hornets are named for their white face coloration. On the rest of their bodies, they are mostly black with white markings on the thorax and lower half of the abdomen. Compared to yellowjackets, they are quite large and plump, at 3/4 inch long.

For some amazing close-up photos showing the coloration more clearly, follow this link.

Bald-faced Hornets are common to both wooded and urban areas. They typically only forage for live prey but occasionally will scavenge for sugars. This species primarily preys on flies and other yellowjackets for protein... which is why we sometimes see them hanging around our RESCUE! Fly Trap or Disposable Yellowjacket Trap.

Bald-faced Hornets are found in many places throughout the U.S., as illustrated in the highlighted portion of this map:

Bald_faced_hornet     

Maculata_Bald-faced_Hornet_Nest Bald-faced Hornets build nests that are at least the size of a basketball, and sometimes larger. The nests are grayish and round or pear-shaped, typically in higher aerial locations such as in trees or on buildings. Bald-faced Hornet nests are much stronger, flexible, and resistant to water damage than the nests of other species. The thick paper of the nest conceals two to six horizontally arranged combs. Peak nest populations are 400 or more workers.

Use caution when you see one of these. Bald-faced Hornets can be extremely aggressive when the nest is disturbed, and it is reported that they will go for the facial area when they attack humans.

Here's a video we shot two years ago of a Bald-faced Hornet nest hidden in some shrubbery next to a garbage container:

WHYTR_200dpi 

Good news if you have Bald-faced Hornets in your backyard: The W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets will catch them!

November 12, 2008 in Entomology, Hornets, Science, Video, WHY Trap, Yellowjackets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

W*H*Y Wednesday: The Red Wasp, Part 2

Yes, we missed our post yesterday and it's actually Thursday, but we like alliteration here at the BugBlog.

Today's featured insect is the second of two Red Wasps caught in the W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets: Polistes perplexus.

Perplexus_Red Wasp Like the P. carolina Red Wasp, P. Perplexus is known for its overall ferruginous (rusty red) coloration, but with more black markings on the thorax. At nearly 1 inch in length, it's large in comparison to other Paper Wasps.

As for where P. perplexus is found, I can't resist linking it to the recent election. This Red Wasp is found in many of the Southeastern "Red" states that John McCain won... plus the surrounding "Blue" states of Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Illinois... okay, so it's not a perfect analogy. Here's the map with the highlighted Red Wasp states:

Red_wasp_perplexus 

Habits: Red Wasp adult workers will feed on sugary nectar and collect live prey to feed nest larvae. Caterpillars appear to be a preferred food source. Red wasps have also been known to attack cicadas.

Red Wasp nests: Red Wasps create nests from chewed-up wood and live plant fibers. Their nests are large compared to other Paper Wasps, resembling an upside-down umbrella with exposed octagonal cells. P. perplexus is more likely to nest in sheltered natural settings such as hollow trees and wooden structures. These Red Wasps are also known to build nests inside warehouses.

Nature toward humans: Like many Paper Wasp species, Red Wasps are typically docile, but will become aggressive when provoked or when the nest is disturbed. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Red Wasp stings feel more painful than stings from other Paper Wasp species.

WHYTR_200dpi Good news for people in Red Wasp country: The forthcoming W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets from RESCUE! will catch these wasps!

November 6, 2008 in Entomology, Science, Wasps, WHY Trap | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

W*H*Y Wednesday: The Red Wasp, Part 1

Carolina_red wasp Today's featured species is the Red Wasp, Polistes carolina. This is one of two red wasps caught in the new W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets.

Red Wasps are named for their overall rusty red coloration. They are rather large, at around 1 inch in length.

P. carolina Red Wasps are found primarily in the Southeastern part of the United States, as highlighted on this map illustration:

Red_wasp_carolina 

Habits: Red Wasp adult workers feed on sugary nectar and collect live prey to feed nest larvae. Caterpillars appear to be a preferred food source. Red Wasps have also been known to attack cicadas.

Red Wasp Nests: Red Wasp species are known to have some of the largest nests among Paper Wasps. Queens begin forming nests from wood and live plant fibers in the spring. Like other Paper Wasp species, Red Wasps create nests resembling an upside-down umbrella and exposed octagonal cells.

The P. carolina Red Wasp usually chooses exposed habitats for nesting, especially under roof eaves and in old tires.

Nature toward humans: Like many Paper Wasp species, Red Wasps are typically docile, but will become aggressive when provoked or when the nest is disturbed. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Red Wasp stings feel more painful than stings from other Paper Wasp species.

WHYTR_200dpi Good news for those who have this species in their backyard: the new W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets will catch Red Wasps!

October 29, 2008 in Entomology, Science, Wasps, WHY Trap | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Good news, men!

Wasp head closeup In case you were wondering... Swiss scientists have found that wasp stings do not cause male infertility.

October 23, 2008 in Bugs in the news, Entomology, Science, Wasps | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

W*H*Y Wednesday: Yet another Paper Wasp

This Wednesday's featured insect is yet another Paper Wasp species: Polistes metricus.

Metricus_paperwasp_small This wasp's appearance is a deep reddish-brown with black lines on the thorax, a darker brownish-black on the abdomen, and golden legs. Females have a reddish-brown face, while males have a golden yellow face.

Paper Wasp Habits: P. metricus workers can be seen foraging for protein -- most often caterpillars -- to feed nest larvae. In addition to protein, Paper Wasps will seek nectar and other sweet liquids for their own sustenance.

Habitat: P. metricus Paper Wasps are found in the highlighted area of the map below:

Paper_wasp_metricus_5

Paper Wasp Nests: Known to nest in both exposed and sheltered settings, P. metricus Paper Wasp nests are usually found under roof eaves and inside shrubs and trees. Like most species of Paper Wasps, P. metricus creates a nest in the shape of an upside-down umbrella with exposed octagonal brood cells.   

Nature toward humans: Unless disturbed or agitated, P. metricus Paper Wasps will not exhibit aggressive behavior toward humans. However, caution should be used around nest sites.

On a personal note, I think this is the type of wasp that flew in my ear when I was 7 -- a terrifying episode in my young life. I remember that its coloration was dark brown, and I lived in a location (Pennsylvania) where these wasps were found. The wasp never did sting me... it just hung out in my ear canal long enough that we had to go to the hospital, where they simply flushed it out with water.

October 22, 2008 in Entomology, Science, Wasps, WHY Trap | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

W*H*Y Wednesday: Golden Paper Wasp

Aurifer_golden_paper_wasp_3 As its common name suggests, the Golden Paper Wasp (Polistes aurifer) is distinguished by its golden yellow color, primarily on the head, abdomen, antennae, legs and wings. It commonly will have black markings on the head and abdomen and often rust-colored markings as well. As with other paper wasp species, the long back legs dangle down when a Golden Paper Wasp is flying.

Two links we found from different photographers in Arizona show different coloration for this wasp. The first shows an all-over golden yellow color (which could be a queen), and the second shows significant rust-colored markings for this species.

The highlighted portion of this graphic shows that this Golden Paper Wasp is found mainly in the Western half of the U.S. and Hawaii:

Golden_paper_wasp_2

Habits: Golden Paper Wasps are active during the day and rest on the nest at night. Adult Golden Paper Wasps feed on sugar and nectar-like food. Larvae eat protein that is gathered and chewed by adult wasps that prey mostly on caterpillars. Colonies last one year, with new queens overwintering to make new nests the following spring.

Aurifer_golden_paper_wasp_2_2 Golden Paper Wasp nests: Queens begin forming nests from wood and live plant fibers in the spring. As with most species of paper wasp, the nests are a single paper-like comb of open hexagonal cells. 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 higher, sheltered locations.

Nature toward humans: Golden Paper Wasps are not aggressive, so there is little threat of swarming. Wasps will sting if handled or if the nest is disturbed. It is important to note that nests can often be found in areas of human traffic, substantially increasing the chances of accidentally disturbing hidden nests.

WhytrGood news for those in the West who have this species in their backyard: the new W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets will catch Golden Paper Wasps.   

October 8, 2008 in Entomology, Science, Wasps, WHY Trap | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Video of the Week: Paper Wasps have tiny brains but big memories

Our Video of the Week dovetails off yesterday's blog post regarding paper wasps' capacity to remember social encounters. A recent study by the University of Michigan found that a paper wasp, specifically the species Polistes fuscatus, can remember an individual wasp counterpart for at least a week.

Here's a video that describes the findings of the study.

October 6, 2008 in Bugs in the news, Entomology, Science, Video, Wasps | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Paper Wasps never forget a face

Remembrance Of Tussles Past: Paper Wasps Show Surprisingly Strong Memory For Previous Encounters
Europeanpaperwasp_2ScienceDaily (2008-09-22) -- With brains less than a millionth the size of humans', paper wasps hardly seem like mental giants. But new research shows that these insects can remember individuals for at least a week, even after meeting and interacting with many other wasps in the meantime. ... > read full article

October 2, 2008 in Bugs in the news, Entomology, Science, Wasps | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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