PAPERNEST WASPS


Polistes dominulus (Christ)

[Hymenoptera: Vespidae]


papernestwasps

Article by Bruce Gow

Worldwide papernest wasps are from the sub-family Polistinae. In Australia, papernest wasps are represented from the genera Polistes and Ropalidia. Polistinae construct nests from plant material. Workers care for the brood and progressively feed larvae with masticated prey. Workers are sterile. Nest cells are used more than once. Papernest wasps are regarded as pests in some urban areas because people may be stung. These wasps may also be considered beneficial because adult wasps collect caterpillars for prey items and protect plants from caterpillar feeding damage.


Adult: Yellow paper wasps are approximately 15 mm long. The body is elongate and black with yellow markings.

Head: The head is triangular with strong mandibles at the apex. Antennae are long (longer than the head), elbowed (geniculate) and orange-brown apically (black basally). Eyes are small (less than half the size of the head).

Thorax: All legs are similar in shape but hindlegs hang conspicuously suspended when in flight. Two pairs of wings with few veins and cross-veins.

Abdomen: Strong constriction between the thorax and abdomen to give a waist-like appearance. Cerci are absent.


Reproduction & Life-cycle:Female foundress queens construct a few cells and oviposit into each cell. The queen provides nectar and prey for the developing larvae. Larvae pupate in cells and emerge a few weeks later as adult workers. Workers undertake nest construction, foraging and brood care. The queen continues to lay eggs. Nests consist of numerous cells constructed from saliva mixed with macerated plant fibre.


Distribution:Polistes dominulus is a species of social wasp adventive to Western Australia and regarded as an urban pest.

Pest Status:Nests are typically concealed, often under roof eaves or tiles or behind wall cladding. Nests are used for one year and sometimes used through warm winters in subtropical areas. Old nests may be reactivated or new nests constructed near the previous season’s nest. Yellow paper-wasp is more common in Western Australia than the common paper-wasp. The yellow paper wasp flies rather slowly when patrolling an area. Papernest wasps will sting when threatened.

“Arguably no one in the world likes wasps. They have a habit of being devilishly cruel and persistent. They can be very aggressive when you come close to their nest and can be a threat when children are involved. Over at pest control we’d love to get rid of any wasps plaguing your home or business!” – Bruce Gow

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