Paper Wasps

Polistes spp.

Wasps Fact Sheet: English, Spanish.

Wasp on nest

Paper wasp on nest (Alvesgaspar, Wikimedia Commons)

Wasp nest

Paper wasp nest (Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University,


Paper wasp (Johnny N. Dell,


  • 5/8 - 3/4 inch long
  • black with yellowish-white face; no hairs
  • long legs that hang in flight
  • abdomen at anterior end gradually slopes
  • appearing longer and more slender than yellowjackets

Nesting Habits

  • social
  • colony dies off every fall; fertilized queens overwinter
  • nest on building eaves, play equipment, benches, any hollow pipe, etc., or in plants/trees
  • nest is open, umbrella shaped, with all wasps exposed
  • queens start new every spring; colonies grow throughout the summer months


  • insects
  • nectar


  • nests pose a health risk to humans
  • not as aggressive as yellowjackets or hornets

IPM Recommendations

  • Monitor for nests from early summer - fall.
  • Purchase and use a bee veil, suit and gloves.
  • Minimize nesting habitat around property.
  • Install tight-fitting screens in windows.
  • Nest removal: wear protective bee veil, suit and gloves; early in the morning, crush nest and remove it, then clean nest area with soap and water to remove pheromones.

Additional Resources

Yellowjackets, Hornets and Paper Wasps fact sheet

IPM for Stinging Bees and Wasps: Integrated Pest Management in Sensitive Environments (University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension)