Paper Wasp Species
Of the 200 identified paper wasp species, 22 are found in North America. Most paper wasp species live in the subtropics, and are named for the paperlike appearance of their nests.
Paper wasps can be identified by their slender bodies and long legs, which hang beneath them during flight. Most paper wasps have black or dark-brown bodies with yellow markings, although there can be some variations in color.
While they appear extremely similar to yellow jackets, paper wasps are slightly larger and differ in behavior. Yellow jackets often build their nests in burrows in the ground or large sac-like, above-ground nests. Yellow jackets are aggressive and can oftentimes be found swarming trash cans and spills of human food. Paper wasps build nests that typically are smaller, under protected overhangs like door frames, and umbrellalike with the nest cells exposed.
Paper wasps consume primarily nectar and feed insects like caterpillars to their larvae. They do not attack unless provoked. Most paper wasp species are also considered beneficial, as they control other pest populations and assist in pollination.
However, paper wasps can deliver painful stings when threatened, and some people experience severe allergic reactions to the venom. In the event of a severe reaction, a medical professional should be contacted. Contact a pest control professional for infestations of yellow jackets or paper wasps.