The Paper Wasp of the BC coastal region
In North America there are over 22 species of paper wasps. Paper wasps belong to the genus Polistes There are over 200 species of these wasps worldwide. They can measure up to 3.4 cm in length. Their bodies are usually a dark brown in color, with black wings and yellow markings.
These insects are called paper wasps due to the construction material used in building their nests. Paper wasp nests are made from plant material mixed with saliva and it is quite similar to paper.
Their nests include numerous compartments within which wasps lay their eggs and rear their young. The nests typically do not have an outer shell with the cells of the nest visible. It resembles an umbrella and this is the reason they are sometimes called umbrella wasps. These nests are frequently found in sheltered areas, such the eaves of houses.
Paper wasps feed on nectar and pollen, although they also hunt for insects such as caterpillars with which to nourish the hives young.
Paper wasps are considered beneficial because they assist in pollination by feeding on nectar, and they control pest insect populations by feeding them to their larvae.