Re: Paper wasps
Daniel Worley (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Wed, 01 Jul 1998 08:26:09 -0300
At 22:20 6/30/98 , email@example.com wrote:
>A query for the sage environmentalists out there:
>A large papery layered nest of black wasps with a thin yellow band on
>abdomen (paper wasps) has appeared in the corner of my kitchen
>let them continue building it (it is a little smaller than a soccer
>partially because I can see into it from the inside of the window and
>their activities fascinating, and partially because I am not sure
>not to remove it --and if so, then how without pesticides.
>Do paper wasps serve any beneficial purpose on the land or do they
>potential danger? Are they neutral and therefore could be left alone?
>they swarm if their numbers grow too big? (The insect books are not
>here and generally view nonpollinating bees and wasp nests as a de
>nuisance) I haven't noticed them doing much of anything other than
>their young and building, building, building.
Some general information on Paper Wasps follows:
Paper Wasp, common name for medium- to large-sized wasps that construct
nests made of a papery material. The nests consist of a single
upside-down layer of brood cells (compartments for the young). There are
22 species of paper wasps in North America and approximately 700 species
world-wide. Most are found in the tropics of the western=20
Most paper wasps measure about 2 cm (0.75 in) long and are black, brown,
or reddish in color with yellow markings. Paper wasps will defend their
nest if attacked. Adults forage for nectar, their source of energy, and
for caterpillars to feed the larvae (young). They are natural enemies of
many garden insect pests. A widespread North American species is the
golden paper wasp.
The nests of most species are suspended from a single, central stalk and
have the shape of an upside-down umbrella. Some tropical species make
nests that hang in a vertical sheet of cells. Plant and wood fibers are
collected by the wasps, mixed with saliva, and chewed into a
papier-m=E2ch=E9-like material that is formed into the thin cells of the
nest. The nests are constructed in protected places, such as under the
eaves of buildings or in dense vegetation. Normally a colony of several
to several dozen paper wasps inhabit the nest.
Scientific Classification: Paper wasps are in the genus Polistes in the
family Vespidae, which also includes potter wasps, yellow jackets, and
From this I suspect they could be dangerous if disturbed, and
especially so if you are allergic to stings. On the other hand,
they are natural enemies of many garden pests. So if you can live
with them without endangering yourself or others in the area (children
either in the house or living nearby could be at risk), then they may
serve a good purpose.
I tend to leave them alone (the ones we have here) unless they
build in a spot that creates a nuisance for me or other family
members. But I do not have any worries about neighborhood children
wandering through my yard or garden.
When I find a need to remove a nest, I use a long stick or pole to
knock it down. Or if it is very large, maybe burning them with an
oil soaked rag at the end of a pole. I have only resorted to that
method once, but it was effective. I did have to hit the nest
several times as the wasps got very upset about their home being
destroyed and I retreated before they figured out what or who was causing
their problem. Then I went back again after they had settled
The location of the nest in your case probably would not be a
candidate for that approach. <g> You appear to have a very
large colony from the description.
--Dan in Sunny Puerto Rico--
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