Paper Wasps
Paper wasps often build near homes and can be extremely aggressive.


A paper wasp infestation is easy to identify by the presence of a nest that looks like an upside-down umbrella. Additionally, property owners may be bothered by small brown or black and yellow insects that seem to dart at them every time they go outside. Paper wasps are one of the more troublesome stinging insects as the female is equipped to sting multiple times.


Paper wasps average about one inch in length, though some are as small as half an inch and some are as large as one and a half inches. Unlike bees, they do not have a fuzzy body. Their colors can vary widely, though most of them are either brown or black with yellow stripes. Orange and red-brown paper wasps also may be found. They have six long legs and a pair of antennae.


Adult paper wasps feed exclusively on nectar and pollen. However, paper wasps will also feed on sweets such as soft drinks and fruit juices, as well as certain types of fruits and foods such as honeydew.


Paper wasp nests are frequently found hanging from trees in the wild. This is mainly because the construction of the nest requires it to be suspended from something on a slender strand. Additionally, the paper wasp requires ready access to wood in order to build their nest, which involves a process of mixing wood fibers with saliva and chewing the mixture.

Similarly, this is why paper wasp nests are so often found in close proximity to human habitations. Fences, decks and buildings that featured unfinished wood are tempting to the paper wasp. Access to building material means that wasps are likely to locate a nest nearby. Nests may be found in birdhouses, overhangs, eaves and windowsills.


The territorial paper wasp is especially aggressive toward people and pets that come too close to its nest. This may prevent people from entering certain parts of their yard to avoid paper wasp encounters. It is not possible to fully use these areas again until the paper wasp nest is removed.


Paper wasps are most active in the daylight hours. They tend to retreat to their nests between dusk and dawn. Because they are among the more territorial of the stinging insects, they may react aggressively whenever a person or animal comes within a few feet of their nesting site. This can represent a major problem for areas that receive considerable foot traffic as it puts a large number of people at risk for a stinging attack.

The female paper wasp is equipped with a smooth stinger that she can use multiple times. Males do not have stingers, but they exhibit aggressive behaviors that can easily appear intimidating. Both sexes may make themselves unwelcome guests at outdoor meals, making it difficult for people to enjoy their yards.


The paper wasp delivers a nasty sting, and because the female is capable of stinging multiple times, this can represent a significant health risk. Even people who are not allergic to stinging insects may have a large local reaction that can last for several days. These reactions involve pain, itching, swelling and redness. Depending upon how many times the victim was stung and the severity of their reaction, medical attention may be necessary.

A small percentage of the population is actually allergic to the paper wasp's sting. Their reaction is typically immediate and severe. Frequently, they break out in hives, experience nausea and vomiting and run a fever. Generalized swelling also occurs, and this can affect the individual's ability to breathe. This state, known as anaphylaxis, is life threatening and must receive immediate medical attention.


Spotting a distinctive nest that appears to be made from paper and is shaped like an upside-down umbrella
Frequent, multiple sightings of small, buzzing insects with black-and-yellow or brown-and-yellow stripes
Observing insects darting and swooping toward people in a certain part of the property
Reports of multiple stings


To help ensure against a paper wasp issue take the following steps:

-• Inspect the exterior of buildings in the spring and summer to check for signs of a new nest
• Place tight lids on all outdoor garbage cans
• Do not leave pet food sitting outside for extended periods of time
• Keep serving dishes with meats and desserts indoor during a barbecue
• Place lids on sugary drinks or only enjoy them inside
• Keep screens on doors and windows
• Promptly repair torn or damaged screens
• Paint or stain all exterior wood


The paper wasp is notable for its ability to sting a victim multiple times. Additionally, in the midst of an attack by one paper wasp, others may join in, especially if they feel that their nest is threatened. The end of the summer is not necessarily the end of the paper wasp problem. That is because these insects are capable of imprinting their offspring with prior nesting sites. Accordingly, a new colony may establish itself in the same location year after year.

The only sure way to completely resolve the problem is with a professional pest control service.

SafeGuard Pest Control, LLC.
A Division Of Newtown Termite & Pest Control, Inc. 
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