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Paper Wasps and Paper Wasp Control

Finding wasps coming and going, buzzing around your home and yard can cause anxiety and fear. They disrupt outdoor leisure time and activities. They are often finding their way into your home and causing panic. While paper wasps are not aggressive by nature, they can still impart a painful sting. Therefore, paper wasp control is most often necessary during the late spring and summer months.

What Are Paper Wasps?

Paper wasp is a common name for a particular group of wasps that belong to the Vespid family and a common wasp found in Oregon. What sets paper wasps apart from the other wasps in the Vespid family, which gives them their name, is the paperlike structures they build and live inside. Paper wasps are semi-social insects. They live in small groups of approximately 75 workers and a queen. There are 22 species of paper wasps living throughout North America and many more worldwide.

Paper Wasp Appearance

Paper wasps look like battle-ready flying machines for an insect that is not overly aggressive. They range in size from ⅝ inch to ¾ inches long. Most commonly, they are various shades of brown and yellow but do come in shades of red. Many paper wasps are solid in color, while others boast stripes or multiple colored patterns. Their body shape is similar to that of the yellowjacket. However, they have slimmer waists and their legs hand down when in flight. They hold their long and narrow wings up or along their backs when not in flight.

What Paper Wasps Eat

Paper wasps eat a varied diet. In the larvae stage, paper wasps feed on a diet of insects. Among the most common insects devoured by paper wasps are caterpillars and flies. Workers collect caterpillars and other insects from surrounding areas as food for developing larvae. Once fully formed adults, paper wasps primarily feed on nectar. Like other insects who eat nectar, sugary fruits and drinks attract paper wasps.

The Lifecycle Of A Paper Wasp

Paper wasps are active in the spring and summer months. Colonies begin with a queen who has overwintered, usually in an attic or eave to remain protected from the winter months. Once the queen has found a suitable location, she will begin constructing the nest. Next, she will lay her first eggs in each nest cell. The eggs hatch, and a larva emerges. These larvae feed on a diet of caterpillars and other insects. The paper wasp enters the pupa stage when the larva stage is complete. Next, adults seal cells containing pupae while the transformation to adult paper wasp occurs. The first generation raised by the queen is sterile females. Once hatched, they will take over the jobs of nest building, food collection, and tending to larvae. The queen’s remaining role is to lay eggs.

When fall approaches, new queens and male paper wasps begin. They then leave the nest and mate. The mated queens seek shelter for the winter. Males and remaining worker females die off either from old age or cold weather. The overwintered new queens emerge in the spring and begin the process again.

Paper wasp nests

Paper wasps get their names from the paper-like appearance of their nests. These delicate-looking homes are constructed by chewing bits of wood until it reaches a pulp-like state. The paper wasps use wood pulp to create open cells for eggs. As the population of the colony grows, the nest takes on an umbrella-shaped appearance. Because the nests are open, they require protection from the elements. Common locations to find paper wasp nests are doorframes, attics and rafters, eaves, the underside of decks and railing, and on the branches of trees and shrubs. Once nests have been used for a season, they are abandoned. However, empty nests do not mean the paper wasps are gone. Finding old or active nests means paper wasp control is needed.


paper wasp sitting on leaf cleaning leg

Benefits of Co-Existing with Paper Wasps

Because paper wasps are not aggressive by nature, there are times when their benefits outweigh their nuisance. In these instances, paper wasp control may include leaving nest be when built out of high traffic areas. For example, avid gardeners may welcome paper wasps. With the ability to hunt large numbers of insects that threaten and destroy gardens, paper wasps are beneficial insects in many cases. Not only will they feed on the caterpillars eating flowers and vegetables, but they will also feed on aphids and beetle larvae. Also, while not as prolific pollinators, like many bee species, paper wasps feed on nectar. Therefore, they play a part in pollinating plants and flowers they visit.

Paper Wasp Control

Paper wasp control becomes crucial when faced with paper wasps in and around your home. Although they are largely non-aggressive, they still can inflict a painful sting. The best form of paper wasp control is prevention. Eliminate potential food sources that attract paper wasps. Cover trash cans and avoid leaving exposed food. Remove fallen and decaying fruit from around trees. Sweet drinks and fruit are a sugary treat to wasps.

In the spring and early summer months, monitor potential nesting sites. Remove the start of any new nests found. This will discourage nesting in that area. Use caution when removing paper wasp nests. They will sting if they feel threatened. Removing nests is safest when done during the evening. The wasps are less active in evening hours and even more so in cooler temperatures. Colonies established beyond a few insects also increase the possible danger when handling. Contact pest control experts to address paper wasp infestations safely and quickly.

Prime Pest Solutions Paper Wasp Control Prime Pest Solutions, a locally owned company, is dedicated to providing the highest quality services to the community. In the case of paper wasp control, our licensed technicians will pinpoint potential and existing problem areas and tailor a plan to fit each homeowner’s needs. Industry-leading experience and knowledge allow for the safe removal of all existing nests and the application of preventive measures. Contact us today for a free estimate

hand holding part of paper wasp nest