WATCH THE WASPS Paper wasps are another common insect pest. Learn more about them.

WATCH THE WASPS

Paper wasp are one of the more common wasps found on or around residential structures. There are other members of the wasp family, such as yellow jackets and hornets, which also construct “paper” nests but the paper wasp nest has a distinctive umbrella shape. While these wasps are not typically aggressive, their propensity to construct nests in protected areas of structures brings them in proximity to human activity. When humans approach these undetected nests, encounters can lead to vicious stings.

These wasps are about 3/4 inch (18 to 20 mm) in length. Coloration varies according to the region: in the East, they are typically dusky brown marked with orange or black and yellow; in the West, they are more brightly colored, with orange or yellow predominating.

The nests of paper wasps are usually small, occupied by no more than 100 to 250 workers. The nest is constructed of a paper-like material, shaped into a single layer of cells called a comb. The comb is not enclosed in a paper envelope and faces downward. The open construction of the nest makes it more susceptible to the weather and, as a result, these wasps tend to build their nests in protected sites such as under eaves and in attics.

When dealing with paper wasps, protective equipment, including a bee hat, long-sleeved coveralls, eye wear and gloves, should be worn. Unlike bees, these wasps aggressively defend their nests and can inflict multiple stings. Often it is best to let a professional handle an active nest. Simply removing the nest often does not resolve the problem because surviving wasps quickly reconstruct a new one.

The best strategy involves treating the nest at night when all the workers and the queen are present. This tactic maximizes the effect of the pesticide application by killing most, if not all, of the wasps. A wide variety of products are labeled for wasp control including dusts, aerosols, and liquid formulations.