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Red Paper Wasp (Polistes spp.)


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



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



Updated: 08/13/2020; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
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 m?ch? 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 wasps drink nectar from flowers and help pollinate them. Red Paper Wasps are comfortable in a variety environments from wild to urban/suburban, so crossing paths with one is probable.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
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Insect stinger icon




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hymenoptera
        Family: Vespidae
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          Genus: Polistes
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            Species: spp.
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Polistes spp.
Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Size (Adult; Length): 12mm to 25mm (0.47" to 0.98")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: red, black
Descriptors: slow, walking, red, stinging, flying
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Range Between 12mm and 25mm
Lo: 12mm
Md: 18.5mm
Hi: 25mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
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Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Red Paper Wasp may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects 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. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Red Paper Wasp. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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