Paper wasps don't get as much press as yellow jackets or hornets do, but they're still a big problem for homeowners across the country. Here are four things you need to know about paper wasps.
How can you identify paper wasps?
Paper wasps are sometimes thought of as a single type of wasp, but they're actually a family of wasps with similar characteristics. There are twenty two different species of paper wasps in North America, and they all make their nests out of paper. These paper nests have an open structure that allows you to see the cells, while other types of wasps build enclosed nests. The nests are fairly small and are only home to a maximum of about 30 individuals.
The appearance of these wasps can vary; their length ranges from 0.75 to 1.5 inches, and they are usually yellow with either brown or black stripes.
Where do they live?
Paper wasps are found across the country, but they're most common in the western and southeastern states. They build their nests on tree branches, under the eaves of houses, or in other similar locations. They can also build their nests inside attics or inside other structures like sheds, mailboxes, or unused garbage cans.
Do they sting?
Paper wasps aren't aggressive, but like other types of wasps, they will sting you if they feel threatened. This can happen if you get too close to their nest, so try to keep your distance.
Paper wasps have smooth stingers, so they don't die after they sting you like honeybees do. They can sting you multiple times and can continue stinging you until you leave the area. Stings are painful, and if you're allergic to the venom, they can be life-threatening.
How can you get rid of them?
If the paper wasp nest is not located in a high-traffic area like above your porch or beside your patio, consider leaving them alone. They won't sting you if you don't get too close to the nest, and they eat caterpillars and other garden pests that can ruin your flowers.
If the nest is in a high-traffic area, however, it needs to go. Wait until evening, when the wasps are less active, and spray the nest with an insecticide that is designed to kill wasps and hornets. Try to spray all of the cells with the insecticide to ensure that all of the wasps will be killed. If you aren't successful, hire a pest control company like Cavanaugh's Professional Termite & Pest Services to finish the job.