Ed Golson Outdoor Education

european paper wasp

Scientific Name: Polistes dominulus

Order: Hymenoptera 

Description: These wasps are often get mistaken for yellowjackets.  It's not surprising. They are close to the same size and look very similar. They are slightly larger than yellowjackets.  

European paper wasps are not native to the U.S. They were brought here from Europe around 1980 and have been spreading ever since. They are not too big of a problem however. They are not overly aggressive and will only sting when they feel threatened. These wasps do have a bad habit of building small nests in hidden areas where unsuspecting hands may get a nasty surprise.  

Habitat: This insect was originally found in the Mediterranean countries of Europe. They found their way here around 1980 and are now found throughout much of the northeastern U.S. European paper wasps will build their nests in many different enclosed structures like attics, parking meters, bird boxes, and even animal skulls. 

Food: These wasps will eat a variety of different insects. They love to eat many insects that gardeners consider pests, but they also eat the caterpillars of many welcome butterflies. No one is exactly sure what their impact on the environment will be once they become more established.


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