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Northern Paper Wasp (Polistes fuscatus)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Northern Paper Wasp.


 Updated: 9/5/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org



  Northern Paper Wasp  
Picture of Northern-Paper-Wasp


The very social Northern Paper Wasp can make a nest in unusual and unexpected places, requiring only a bit of wood of get started.





Northern Paper Wasps are most commonly found in the Midwest states. They are likely to build nests near humans as that is where a lot of wood can be found (homes, barns, sheds, fences, firewood, landscaping, etc.). The wasps use wood to help create their nest.

The primary queen is first to aggressively defend her nest and her oldest workers will join her in that effort. People and animals that disturb nests may be stung multiple times as wasps do not die after one sting (like honeybees do). Aside from possibly suffering from painful stings, Northern Paper Wasps actually do a great job of removing plant-devouring caterpillars from gardens. The adults eat them and will also use them to feed to their larvae when they hatch. They are so effective at this pest control that they are welcome sights in organic gardens since their presence negates the need for chemical pesticides.

This particular species of paper wasp contains multiple fertile females for a short time, though one queen dominates all of them. She hatches just before winter and quickly mates with males before hibernating. In the spring, she establishes her nest by laying her eggs. Most of these are workers that are sterile. Fertile females and males are usually born in late summer and mate before they overwinter and establish their own nests the next spring. Once these fertile females hatch, though, they quickly come to understand their position in the social ranking. The primary queen eats any eggs that are not her own. She tells them apart by using a chemical to 'tag' her own eggs and she avoids them. This way, she quashes any attempts to usurp her authority while she's still living. She, her workers and any males do not survive past autumn.

A study was done to see what role facial recognition plays in the socialization of this species. Northern Paper Wasps can tell the difference between their own species and other wasps in the same genus (cousins). They become physically aggressive toward them and attack them to protect their nest. It was a novel discovery for an insect species.
Basic Information
Common Name: Northern Paper Wasp
Scientific Name: Polistes fuscatus
Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar


General Identification
Size (Adult; Length): 15mm to 21mm (0.59in to 0.82in)
Colorwheel Graphic
Identifying Colors: yellow, red, black
Additional Descriptors: flying, stinging, striped, spotted, banded, aggressive, social,




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Vespidae
Genus: Polistes
Species: fuscatus


Ant, Bee and Wasp Anatomy
Graphic showing basic anatomy of both a bee and an ant insect
1
Antennae: Ants and Bees both have a pair of antennae on the head that senses their surroundings.
2
Head: The head contains the insect's compound eyes, antennae, and mandibles.
3
Thorax: Contains various vital parts such as the aorta and nervous system.
4
Abdomen: Contains various organs including the heart, gut, venom glands, and anus.
5
Legs: Ants and Bees have three pairs of legs attached to the thorax (center-body section).
NOTE: Ants, Bees and Wasps are part of the Hymenoptera order because they share many similarities.


Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed below as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections below indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
Canadian National Flag Graphic
Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
Mexican National Flag Graphic
Mexico


Territorial Area Map (Visual Reference Guide)
The map below showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Northern Paper Wasp may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data can be useful in seeing concentrations of a particular species over the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some species are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America.
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
State of Alabama graphic
State of Arizona graphic
State of Arkansas graphic
State of California graphic
State of Colorado graphic
State of Delware graphic
State of Florida graphic
State of Georgia graphic
State of Idaho graphic
State of Illinois graphic
State of Indiana graphic
State of Iowa graphic
State of Kansas graphic
State of Kentucky graphic
State of Louisiana graphic
State of Maine graphic
State of Maryland graphic
State of Michigan graphic
State of Minnesota graphic
State of Mississippi graphic
State of Missouri graphic
State of Montana graphic
State of Nebraska graphic
State of Nevada graphic
State of New England graphic
State of New Jersey graphic
State of New Mexico graphic
State of New York graphic
State of North Carolina graphic
State of North Dakota graphic
State of Ohio graphic
State of Oklahoma graphic
State of Oregon graphic
State of Pennsylvania graphic
State of South Carolina graphic
State of South Dakota graphic
State of Tennessee graphic
State of Texas graphic
State of Utah graphic
State of Virginia graphic
State of Washington graphic
State of West Virginia graphic
State of Wisconsin graphic
State of Wyoming graphic
Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
Canadian territory of British Columbia graphic
Canadian territory of Manitoba graphic
Canadian territory of New Brunswick graphic
Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
Canadian territory of Ontario graphic
Canadian territory of Quebec graphic
Canadian territory of Saskatchewan graphic
Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic


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