Bernheim Pollinators: The Paper Wasp

By Bernheim

Photo credit: Bob Peterson,

The Paper Wasp, of the vespid subfamily Polistinae, is one of twenty-two species found in North America and approximately 300 species worldwide. Paper wasps have long, slender bodies with distinct, yellow markings on their head, thorax, and abdomen against a dark brown or black body.

Paper wasps are one of two types of social wasps. The other type is the well-known and feared yellowjacket. Paper wasps are not as aggressive as yellowjackets or hornets and will only attack if they or their nest is threatened. Wasps can be more dangerous than bees as they can sting repeatedly. Paper wasps construct their water-resistant nests with open combs from dead wood fibers and saliva.

Paper wasps are considered pollinators because they feed on nectar and are often found around flowers, particularly goldenrod, woodlands, and fields. In addition to nectar, paper wasps will feed on other insects like flies. Because paper wasps feed on nearly every pest insect, they are often considered valuable by gardeners. If you see a paper wasp around your garden, be careful not to get stung, and appreciate nature’s unique pollinator and protector against pests.

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