- Wasps that construct ne sts made of a papery material are commonly called paper wasps. The nests consist of a single upside-down layer of brood cells . There are 22 species of paper wasps in North America and about 700 species world-wide. Most are resident in the tropics of the western hemisphere. The two most common paper wasps in the American midwest are Polistes dominulus, an introduced species , and Poliste fuscatus, the native "golden paper wasp."
- Most paper wasps measure about 2 cm (0.75 in) long and are black, brown, or reddish in color with yellow markings. Paper wasps will defend their nest if attacked. Adults forage for nectar, their source of energy, and for caterpillars to feed the larvae (young). They are natural enemies of many garden insect pests.
Common Names in English:
Typically found at an altitude of 0 to 3,139 meters (0 to 10,299 feet).
The nests of most species are suspended from a single, central stalk , or pedicle , and have the shape of an upside-down umbrella . Some tropical species make nests that hang in a vertical sheet of cells . Plant and wood fibers are collected by the wasps, mixed with saliva , and chewed into a paper-like material that is formed into the thin cells of the nest. The nests are constructed in protected places, such as under the eaves of buildings or in dense vegetation. Normally a colony of several to several dozen paper wasps inhabit the nest. The colony is founded in early spring , soon after the queens emerge from hibernation. As the colony matures, males and the next year's queens are produced . These queens mate with males and are the only members of the colony to survive through winter. In late summer or fall , the founding queen, workers (sterile females), and males all die. The newly mated queens hibernate, in piles of wood, in vegetation, or in holes . The following spring they emerge and begin the cycle anew. A similar life cycle is found in bumble bees.
In most temperate species of paper wasps, colonies are founded by one female who dominates the colony and lays most of the eggs . This female constructs the nest , lays eggs, forages , and raises the first generation of offspring. She then stops foraging , becomes the queen, and rules by dominating her offspring of workers. This is a classic dominance hierarchy with the queen maintaining control through aggressive interactions . Each individual in line maintains dominance over all others below her through confrontation and aggressive interactions. If the queen dies or is otherwise lost, the most aggressive worker takes over. This worker begins laying eggs and continues to dominate all below her. Since the workers have not mated, they can only lay unfertilized eggs, which develop into males, a typical trait in wasps. Some queens that are unsuccessful at establishing their own nest may join another queen, submitting to her dominance and becoming a worker. Studies have shown that such individuals, called joiners, are most often sisters of the queen. Since this individual mated the previous fall , her eggs can develop into workers and she could become the next queen if the founding queen is lost. Occasionally a joiner dominates the founding queen and takes over the nest, a behavior known as usurpation. In such rare cases, the usurper becomes the queen and the previous queen becomes a worker.
- Whittaker & Margulis,1978
- C. Linnaeus, 1758
- (Hatschek, 1888) Cavalier-Smith, 1983
- Grobben, 1908
- A.M.A. Aguinaldo et al., 1997 ex T. Cavalier-Smith, 1998
- Latreille, 1829
- Snodgrass, 1938
- Heymons, 1901
- C. Linnaeus, 1758
- Infraclass: Pterygota ()
- Subclass: Dicondylia ()
- Class: Insecta () - C. Linnaeus, 1758 - Insects
- Epiclass: Hexapoda ()
- Superclass: Panhexapoda ()
- Infraphylum: Atelocerata () - Heymons, 1901
- Subphylum: Mandibulata () - Snodgrass, 1938
- Phylum: Arthropoda () - Latreille, 1829 - Arthropods
- Superphylum: Panarthropoda () - Cuvier
- Infrakingdom: Ecdysozoa () - A.M.A. Aguinaldo et al., 1997 ex T. Cavalier-Smith, 1998
- Branch: Protostomia () - Grobben, 1908
- Subkingdom: Bilateria () - (Hatschek, 1888) Cavalier-Smith, 1983
- Kingdom: Animalia () - C. Linnaeus, 1758 - animals
Polistes italica Herrich-Schäffer • Polistes lefebvrei Guérin • Polistes maculatus Rudow • Polistes merceti Dusmet • Polistes ornata Weyrauch • Polistes pacifica Weyrauch • Polistes pectoralis meg. H. -Sch. • Polistes pseudopacificus Giordani Soika • Polistes rufescens Buysson
Status: Accepted Name
Last scrutiny: 31-Jul-1996
Members of the genus Polistes
ZipcodeZoo has pages for 15 species and subspecies in this genus:
P. annularis (Red Wasp) · P. apachus (Paper Wasp) · P. carolina (Paper Wasp) · P. dominula (European Paper Wasp) · P. dominulus (Paper Wasp) · P. exclamans (Common Paper Wasp) · P. fuscata (Paperwasp) · P. fuscatus (Common Paper Wasp) · P. fuscatus aurifer (Golden Paper Wasp) · P. fuscatus pallipes (Paper Wasp) · P. macaensis (Macao Paper Wasp) · P. metrica (Paper Wasp) · P. undescribed-a (Polistes Undescribed Species A) · P. undescribed-b (Polistes Undescribed Species B) · P. versicolor (Yellow Paper Wasp)
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- Entomological news. [Philadelphia]American Entomological Society, 1925- url p. 159, p. 161, p. 162, p. 164, p. 165.
- Journal of Hymenoptera research. Washington, D.C.: International Society of Hymenopterists, [1992- url p. 138, p. 231.
- The Entomologist's record and journal of variation. s.l., s.n. url , , , p. 177.
- Brands, S.J. (comp.) 1989-present. The Taxonomicon. Universal Taxonomic Services, Zwaag, The Netherlands. Accessed January 9, 2012.
Accessed through GBIF Data Portal December 08, 2007:
- Biologiezentrum der Oberoesterreichischen Landesmuseen, Biologiezentrum Linz
- Ohio State University Insect Collection, Insects
- UK National Biodiversity Network, Bees, Wasp and Ants Recording Society - Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society - Trial Dataset
- Biodiversity Heritage Library NamebankID: 5433025
- Catalogue of Life Accepted Name Code: Ves-010013
- Global Biodiversity Information Facility Taxonkey: 4490920
- Zipcode Zoo Species Identifier: 643634