Call us for a free quote at 800-937-8398  or contact us

Paper wasp: identification, removal, lifecycle

Paper Wasp

Color of paper wasp

Adults are brownish with yellow markings.

Paper wasp characteristics

Paper wasps can be easily identified by the appearance of their nest, which is umbrella-shaped and held by a single comb or pedicel. Unlike yellow jackets, paper wasp nests are open and are not completely covered. Common paper wasp species are the European paper wasp and red wasps.

Where are paper wasp found?

Widespread geographically, especially in North and Central America.

Paper wasp habitat

Generally, paper wasps construct their nests on twigs and branches of trees and shrubs. They will also readily construct their nest on porch ceilings, under eaves, attic rafters, etc. Paper wasp nests are water-resistant, made of grey or brown paper mache-like material.

What do paper wasp eat?

The adults feed on nectar, sap, or similar materials, and the larvae feed on other insects and spiders. Wasps sting their prey, paralyze it to allow wasp larvae to eat and develop on the decaying insect.

Paper wasp life cycle

Paper wasps are semi-social insects that live in small colonies without a worker caste. The fertilized queen will overwinter in a protected area and start a new colony in spring. Other inseminated queens will help the founding queen in colony maintenance. Each cell will be filled with egg and larval food. Larval food is brought into the nest by female wasps.

Paper wasp damage

Paper wasp nests aren’t known for structural damage but their stings are what make them a threat to people. Paper wasps sting when they feel threatened. They can sting multiple times so be careful when you’re in the presence of a nest.

Paper wasp invasion

It can be very inconvenient, and somewhat disturbing, to encounter paper wasps at your front door, but they aren't likely to attack.

How to get rid of paper wasps

Conduct a thorough inspection to locate all nests. As a rule, paper wasps are not very aggressive. Yellowjackets are less active at night so as a rule of thumb, remove a nest and apply insecticide at dusk. For any other species of wasps, you can remove the nest at any time of the day. 

When using insecticide, make sure to read all labeled instructions. After treatment, remove the dead wasps and the nest. During treatment, do not stand directly under the nest, as wasps may swarm and sting you. Use a long pole to disturb the nest.

After removing the nest, treat the area with the same residual insecticide, which will kill the wasps returning to their nesting site. After eliminating the wasps, trim down the shrubs and hedges around the structure. Low impact treatment options include exclusion, sanitation and regular nest removal.

Next steps

Find a Western Exterminator near you

Type your zip code



Call your local branch


or fill out your details and we will call you back

Bill pay and login