Have European Paper Wasps taken over this year? I have not seen a single paper wasp nest with the species Northern Paper Wasp (Polistes fuscatus) but I have see lots of European Paper Wasps (Polistes dominula). I am very curious to see if you are experiencing the same thing. I have included pictures of the two species along with a picture of a yellowjacket for your reference.
Pest Status- The European paper wasp is a newly established insect now abundant in Wisconsin. It was first introduced into the United States 30 years ago and has increased most of the contiguous 48 states. According to the Wisconsin DNR it was first reported in 2004. These wasps hunt caterpillars that they feed to their young. Homeowners continue to confuse this species with yellowjackets. The reason it’s important to identify the difference between the yellowjackets and the European paper wasp is because they nest in very different sites. Yellowjackets construct concealed nests in a paper mache envelope. Paper wasps construct umbrella-shaped nests with the developmental cells exposed usually beneath eaves, gutters, awnings, light fixtures, cedar shakes, open ended pipes, mailboxes, etc.
Life Cycle- Paper wasps are semi-social insects and colonies contain three castes: workers, queens and males. Fertilized queens, which appear similar to workers, overwinter in protected habitats such as cracks and crevices in structures or under tree bark. In the spring they select a nesting site and begin to build a nest. Eggs are laid singly in cells and hatch into legless grub-like larvae that develop through several stages (instars) before pupating. Cells remain open until developing larvae pupate. Sterile worker wasps assist in building the nest, feeding young and defending the nest. A mature paper wasp nest may have 20 to 30 adults. In late summer, queens stop laying eggs and the colony soon begins to decline. In the fall, mated female offspring of the queen seek overwintering sites. The remainder of the colony does not survive the winter.
Control- Most pesticides that are effective against bees will also give good control of wasps. Although insecticidal dusts are effective, applying them to paper wasp nests can be cumbersome without the proper equipment and safety apparel and because of the nest location. Dusts can also irritate the adults. If the dust has been successfully applied, kill can be expected within 24 hours. Aerosol sprays are also available. These devices are capable of reaching nests 20 feet away. When all adults have been killed, the nest should be knocked down and disposed of to prevent its reuse by other wasps, since insecticidal dusts may remain effective for only a few weeks. If you need help treating stinging insects at your home or place of business, contact a local pest management company.
IMPORTANT- Any insecticide or formulation should be applied in the early morning or evening when adult wasps are gathered on the nest and are less active. Cover yourself with thick clothing from head to toe. Plus, control should be focused on the nest and NOT at the foraging adults. In my early years I’ve been sprayed on by a co-worker trying to spray an individual wasp.
Traps- A number of types of lures and traps are available or can be made to reduce numbers. These traps can be filled with soft drinks or juices. A 50% apple juice in water is quite effective in attracting yellowjackets.
Question: What types of stinging insects have you seen this summer? Can you tell the difference between species?
About Shane McCoy:
Shane McCoy is an Associate Certified Entomologist with 17 years of experience in Pest Management and is the Technical Training Director for Wil-Kil Pest Control servicing Wisconsin and Illinois. You can find more information about Wil-Kil a www.wil-kil.com or contact your local office at 800-236-8735. You can also follow Wil-Kil on Facebook and Twitter (@WilKilPest).