Wasp Wasp: The Buzz on these Fascinating Insects!

Wasp wasps, scientifically known as Polistes fuscatus, are a type of social wasp that belongs to the family Vespidae. These insects are fascinating in their behaviors, ecology, and diversity, which make them one of the most important and interesting subjects of study in entomology. This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide to wasp wasps, including their life cycle, habitat, behavior, and more.

What are Wasp Wasps?

Wasp wasps are a type of paper wasp, named for their characteristic habit of building nests made of paper-like materials made from chewed-up plant fibers mixed with saliva. They are found throughout the world, except for in the polar regions. These social wasps belong to the genus Polistes, which includes more than 200 species of wasps. Some of the most common species of Polistes in North America include P. fuscatus, P. exclamans, and P. annularis.

Life Cycle of Wasp Wasps

Like other social wasps, wasp wasps have complex life cycles that involve multiple stages, each with its own behaviors and developmental changes. The following are the four key stages of their life cycle:

  • Egg Stage: The female wasp wasp lays eggs on the cells of the nest that she has built. During this stage, the female is responsible for caring for the eggs until they hatch.
  • Larva Stage: After hatching from the egg stage, the wasp wasp larvae are responsible for feeding on other insects or spiders that are provisioned by the adult wasps. During this stage, the larvae develop rapidly and molt several times to reach maturity.
  • Pupa Stage: Once they have reached maturity, the larvae enter the pupa stage, during which they metamorphose into adult wasps. During this stage, the pupae are enclosed in cocoons and go through a series of changes to become fully formed adults.
  • Adult Stage: After emerging from their cocoons, the adult wasps are ready to mate and reproduce. During this stage, the females are responsible for building and caring for the next generation of wasp wasps.

Habitat of Wasp Wasps

Wasp wasps are commonly found in North America, Europe, and Asia, typically in urban or suburban areas. They prefer to nest in sheltered locations that provide protection from the weather and predators, such as under eaves or in tree branches.

Behavior of Wasp Wasps

Wasp wasps are social insects that live in colonies with a dominant queen and multiple subordinate workers. The following are some of the most interesting behaviors that are associated with wasp wasps:

  • Nest Building: As mentioned earlier, wasp wasps are known for their paper-like nests, which they build using a mixture of saliva and plant fibers.
  • Communication: Wasps can communicate with each other using pheromones, which they produce, and vibrations they make by beating their wings, to send messages to other members of their colonies.
  • Foraging: Wasps wereps are predators of other insects and spiders and seek out insects in order to feed themselves and their young.
  • Defense: Wasps are known for their aggressive behavior when defending their nests, and will attack anything that they perceive as a threat, including humans.

5 Amazing Facts About Wasp Wasps

Fact 1: Wasps Wasps Can Recognize Faces

Wasp wasps have the ability to recognize individual faces, which is a rare trait among insects. This means that they can remember and differentiate between other wasp wasps, which helps them to identify potential rivals, mates, and friends.

Fact 2: Wasp Wasps Can Navigate by Polarization

Like some other insects, wasp wasps can navigate using the polarization of the sky. This means that they are able to use the way that light waves travel through the atmosphere to orient themselves and find their way around their habitat.

Fact 3: Wasp Wasps Live in Complex Societies

Wasp wasps live in highly structured societies that include multiple ranks of workers, soldiers, and a single queen. The queen is responsible for reproduction, while the workers take care of the young, gather food, and defend the nest.

Fact 4: Wasp Wasps are Important Pollinators

While wasp wasps are best known for their predatory behavior, they also play an important role as pollinators, helping to transfer pollen from flower to flower as they feed.

Fact 5: Wasp Wasps Have Complex Communication Systems

Wasp wasps communicate with each other using a variety of signals, including pheromones, vibrations, and body posture. They also have the ability to recognize and remember the sounds of individual wasps, which helps them to maintain social bonding with their colony members.

Wasp Wasp Sting: What You Need to Know

Wasp wasps are known for their painful stings, which can cause swelling, redness, and itching. When a wasp wasp stings, it injects venom into the victim, which can trigger an allergic reaction in some people.

If you are stung by a wasp wasp, the following are some helpful tips for managing the pain and reducing the risk of complications:

  • Remove the stinger gently and quickly to minimize the amount of venom that is injected
  • Wash the affected area with soap and water
  • Apply a cold compress to reduce swelling and alleviate pain
  • Take over-the-counter pain relief medication if necessary
  • If you experience signs of an allergic reaction, such as difficulty breathing or swelling of the face or throat, seek medical attention immediately.

How to Prevent Wasp Wasp Infestations

If you want to avoid wasp wasps building nest in your property, the following are some helpful tips for deterring them:

  • Seal cracks and holes in your home or building so wasp wasps cannot enter and build nests.
  • Use insecticide to kill the wasp wasp and prevent them building a nest for an extended period.
  • Remove food and trash quickly which can attract wasp wasps.
  • Remove places that would provide shelter for wasp wasps.
  • Hang fake nests around your property as a decoy to discourage wasp wasps from building their own nests nearby.


Wasp wasps are fascinating insects that are important components of the ecosystems they inhabit. They play important roles as pollinators, predators, and members of complex social structures. As with any wildlife, it is ok to appreciate them from a distance. If you do have a pest problem with wasp wasps on your property, contact a professional pest control service for more information on how to get rid of them.

The Most Common Questions About Wasp Wasps

  • What do wasp wasps eat? Wasp wasps mainly feed on other insects and spiders, which they hunt and bring back to the nest to feed their young.
  • How do you identify a wasp wasp? A wasp wasp is typically identified by its triangular-shaped head, reddish-brown coloration, and distinctive black wings. It also has a long slender tail which separates it from their broader abdomen.
  • Are wasp wasps aggressive? Wasp wasps can be aggressive if they feel threatened, and will sting in order to defend their nest. However, it is important to avoid provoking wasp wasps if at all possible.
  • Can wasp wasps be helpful? Yes, wasp wasps can be helpful as pollinators and predators of other insects, including pests that can damage crops and gardens.
  • What is the lifespan of a wasp wasp? The lifespan of a wasp wasp varies based on the species and environmental factors, but typically ranges from several weeks to several months.


1. Evans JD. (2004) Wasp wasps and Kin. The Journal of Heredity. Vol 95, 6, pp 566-573.

2. Carpenter, J.M. (2004). Polistes wasps. StopPests.org. University of California.

3. Starks PT. et al. (2000) A Comparative Study of Nesting Biology in Paper wasps. Annual Review of Entomology. 45: 7.1- 67.

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