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Red Paper Wasp (Polistes spp.)

Detailing the identifying qualities of the Red Paper Wasp, including physical features and territorial reach.

 Updated: 1/10/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Red Paper Wasp  
Picture of Red-Paper-Wasp
Picture of Red-Paper-Wasp Picture of Red-Paper-WaspPicture of Red-Paper-WaspPicture of Red-Paper-Wasp

Red with black wings, Red Paper Wasps meander around shrubs, flowers, hose wranglers, and patio furniture looking for places to call home.

The name Red Paper Wasp is represented by a couple of species in this genus. All have orange-red bodies and jet black wings. They lazily fly at low levels, occasionally landing on people, pets and objects before flying off again, sometimes without being noticed. Red Paper Wasps are not aggressive, but they do sting if threatened.

Nests are built using saliva and vegetation. These gray papier mache homes are attached to a variety of objects including bushes, shed and home eaves, and outdoor storage containers for water hoses and patio cushions. They start out small, but grow quickly and contain chambers for eggs and pupae that are guarded by caretakers. Activity by adults in a particular area is a good sign that a nest has been established nearby.

Red Paper Wasps are great predators of caterpillars in order to feed their larvae. This makes them biological controls that help contain the chewing damage that many species of caterpillars cause on crops. Adults drink nectar from flowers and help pollinate them. Red Paper Wasps are comfortable in a variety environments from wild to urban/suburban.

Picture of the Red Paper Wasp
Picture of the Red Paper Wasp

Red Paper Wasp Information

Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Common Name: Red Paper Wasp
Scientific Name: Polistes spp.

Taxonomy Hierarchy

 Arrow graphic Kingdom: Animalia
  Arrow graphic Phylum: Arthropoda
   Arrow graphic Class: Insecta
    Arrow graphic Order: Hymenoptera
     Arrow graphic Family: Vespidae
      Arrow graphic Genus: Polistes
       Arrow graphic Species: spp.

Size, Identifying Tags and Territorial Reach

Size (Adult, Length): Size (Adult, Length): 12 mm to 25 mm (0.468 inches to 0.975 inches)
Identifying Colors: red, black
Additional Descriptors: slow, walking, red, stinging, flying

North American Territorial Reach (Though Not Limited To): Alabama; Arkansas; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Nebraska;New Hampshire; New Jersey; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Vermont; Virginia; West Virginia; Wisconsin; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Mexico

A Note About Territorial Reach: Keep in mind that 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 above. Insects are driven by environmental factors, food supplies and mating patterns and do not nescessarily work within hard-and-fast territorial lines like we humans do.

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