Polistes dominula

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WaspNest.jpg

Polistes dominula–European paper wasp, Boulder, Colorado.

14 Comments

Take a look at http://www.geocities.com/quelea/waspmontage.html to see the variety of face patterns on these wasps.

I got stung by 3 of these little bastards, or their cousins, last week. Who knew they’d build a nest under the arm of the patio chair?!??

A friend found an abandoned nest and gave it to me as a gift; I still have it hanging from a light fixture. Fascinating critters, at a safe distance.

Great photo.

This seems to be what arrived in force here in Western Washington about 5 or six years ago. Nesting in greenhouse, tractor, eaves, dumpster, etc etc. Fortunately not too aggressive, but what a bother. They have diminished somewhat in the last few years.

It is a shame they are so aggressive unlike the bumblebees in my backyard I can almost pet. I hate to spray/kill anything just trying to make a living, but these guys will chase you right off your own deck. And they build anywhere including my mailbox, my gate, the side view mirror of my SUV and underneath my Weber BBQ.

Great picture though… They are industrious little dudes. I heard that they eat mosquitoes. Is that true? If so, I have at least one reason to not give them a wrath of gawd moment.

Randy said:

It is a shame they are so aggressive unlike the bumblebees in my backyard I can almost pet. I hate to spray/kill anything just trying to make a living, but these guys will chase you right off your own deck. And they build anywhere including my mailbox, my gate, the side view mirror of my SUV and underneath my Weber BBQ.

They’re always trying to found colonies inside of the pipes we run our laundry lines on, or under the eaves of the roof over my room. I’d be more proactive about eradicating them, but, I’m allergic to insect stings.

Great picture though… They are industrious little dudes. I heard that they eat mosquitoes. Is that true? If so, I have at least one reason to not give them a wrath of gawd moment.

Paper wasps prey on a wide variety of insects, including flies, bees and mosquitoes, as well as caterpillars, all of which are fed primarily to the larvae. The adults, themselves, feed primarily on sugary food, like fruit, or leftover human foods.

Wow…these are hard to tell apart from the Western Yellowjackets, which I’m pretty sure we also have here in Boulder.

If your short on spray, toss some gasoline on them. You don’t have to ignite it, but for whatever reason it kills them really fast.

I discovered this as a child with a lot of time on my hands in the middle of a battle against a big nest in my back yard.

I got stung a lot as a child…

Wow…these are hard to tell apart from the Western Yellowjackets, which I’m pretty sure we also have here in Boulder.

I know from nothing: these were identified for me by Whitney Cranshaw of the Colorado State University Extension Service. The link to the picture includes comparison photographs of the European paper wasp and the western yellowjacket; up close, they look only vaguely similar.

The article further says that they are not considered to be especially aggressive; the yellowjacket is evidently much more so. This nest was under the eaves of a very small (1.2 m high) greenhouse in my yard. I have also found the wasps under the lid of a compost bin. They never bothered me very much, and they didn’t seem to mind having their picture taken.

Further comment, we have two native “yellow jackets”, the cavity and ground nesting one, and the aerial football nest builder. The former is more aggressive than the later. There is another Pacific NW wasp, the bald faced hornet which builds aerial nests, but close to the ground. Kind of aggressive. And about 20 years ago a German (?) yellow jacket moved in, it is characterized in that it can over winter. For the amateur (such as myself) it is easiest to identify them by their nesting habits.

I’ve got those around my house. They build small nests with open cells in pipes and under the eves.

They aren’t very aggressive. I just leave them alone unless they try to build a nest near the door.

Unlike the hornets which are aggrssive. I leave those alone too but for the opposite reason.

Bald faced hornets have a reputation for being aggressive but I’ve never seen it. They are bigger than most of these types. And they pack a wallop. I blundered into a nest once and got stung. Ouch.

Polistes dominula is the European paper wasp, introduced to North America and spreading rapidly, possibly because they are resistant to certain mites that infest native paper wasps.

I recommend reading a little on the subject 1, 2, 3.

I got stung by two of these at work so far this year, once on the foot.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on August 3, 2009 12:00 PM.

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