Paper Wasps: Facts, Identification and Their Sting

Paper wasps are known for their papery nests made from rotten wood. Paper wasps typically don’t want any trouble with humans. However, if you’ve encountered paper wasps near your home, then you should take note.

That’s because paper wasps can produce a terrible, venomous sting. If a paper wasp nest is near your home’s front or back door, then beware. Due to potential allergic reactions, the paper wasp stinger is possibly life-threatening for some people.

While paper wasps aren’t traditionally aggressive, if you come into frequent contact with them, you’re certainly at risk for painful and potentially dangerous paper wasp stings.

Facts, Identification, and Control

Latin Name



Paper wasps look like yellow jackets or honeybees. Like all insects, paper wasps have six legs. Paper wasps also have a pair of wings, antennae, and their bodies are usually black and yellow. The easiest way to spot a paper wasp is often their body’s bright yellow and black stripes. Look for yellow or reddish rings around the wasp’s abdomen.

Also, look for the darkish black and bright yellow contrast on a paper wasp. The paper wasp’s body may include hues of black, yellow, orange, and you may also find a red paper wasp or a brown paper wasp. Whether the paper wasp is red, or even if it’s a brown wasp, their sizes are usually the same. Their body, about one inch long, is roughly the size of a small peanut shell.

Another critical thing to look out for is the paper wasp nest, which is famously in the shape of an umbrella. You may find those who refer to a paper wasp as an “umbrella wasp.”

Facts About Paper Wasps

Where Do They Live?

Paper wasps love to build their nests in secure locations. For that reason, you may find a paper wasp nest nestled upon your roof’s eave, doorway, or even inside of your home.

Nothing quite causes stress like hearing the buzzing and swarming of wasps overhead as you enter your home, especially if you have loved ones, children, or pets with an innocent sense of curiosity.

You might find a paper wasp nest in the following locations:

  • Under roof eaves
  •  Around window edges
  •  In a tree near your home
  •  Around your gutters
  •  In abandoned buildings
  •  In attics
  •  In garages
  •  In porches


What Do They Eat?

Contrary to popular belief, wasps love to feast upon insects considered to be pests. Therefore, paper wasps, aren’t in their very nature, enemies of humans. Of course, those who have endured a red paper wasp sting will swear otherwise! (Understandably so).

Paper wasps also chew on wood from nearly any convenient source that they can find. The paper wasps, as their name suggests, use wood they find to build their amazing and renown paper wasp nests.

Paper wasps may eat the following:

  • Caterpillars (A real pest to gardeners everywhere)
  •  Nectar
  •  Flies
  •  A wide variety of insect pests

How Did I Get Paper Wasps?

Paper wasps love to find secure areas to nest. Eaves, trees, clotheslines, pipes, or windowsills around your home might make a great place. Paper wasps can nest just about anywhere, so if you have them in your yard, it’s no shame on you.

If you have a paper wasp nest in your home, then the first thing to look for is a point of entry.

Potential entry points for paper wasps to look out for:

  • Cracks in your house structure
  • Opening through any doors or windows
  • Any gaps between fixtures, eaves, porches, or slates

How Serious Are Paper Wasps Problems?

Stress and Anxiety

Having a paper wasp nest near your front door is an annoyance. The fear of meeting paper wasps on a daily or even hourly basis can be a stressful ordeal.

Painful Stings

Even though paper wasps are beneficial in some ways, they also pack a massive sting. Depending upon the impact, a wasp-sting might feel like a needle-prick or a burn at the sting site. Unless there is a severe allergic reaction, usually, the wasp stings only require cleaning of the wound and an antibiotic ointment.

Allergic Reactions

The real horror of a wasp (or bee) sting comes when you realize that you or a loved one, are allergic to the venom. WebMD states that wasp stings are usually not a life-threatening issue. However, those with severe allergic reactions should seek immediate medical care.

Paper Wasps and Pet Troubles

If you have a curious golden retriever (or any other dog) who can’t help but investigate everything it finds, then be wary when around paper wasps! A snooping dog can easily land into trouble when snooping around a paper wasp nest, so take care to protect your loveable hounds from any stings.

What Can I Do About Paper Wasps?

If you find that your yard or home contains paper wasps, then relax! They’re not the most invasive species in the world, and they mean you no harm. As you may know, however, their stings hurt very much.

One of the first rules of paper wasp removal is to act quickly. If you catch the nest while in an early developmental stage, then you’ll have a much more manageable task.

Signs of a Paper Wasps Infestation?

The only sure way to verify a paper wasp infestation is the visual confirmation of a wasp nest.

Sometimes, the wasp nest is tucked away in a location that’s tough to see. You may notice single wasps buzzing about the area. If you follow the buzzing and trail of wasps, you may find the nest nestled upon your windows, roofs, gutters or any location that the paper wasps deem secure.

Paper Wasps Prevention and Control Tips

# 1 – Stay Calm

If you swat an insect, you may indeed trigger a sting. So, if you encounter a paper wasp, stay calm! The worst thing you can do is lose your composure, panic, or try to swat at the wasps. If you contact the wasp and take it by surprise, it’s all too easy to get stung. If you stumble upon a paper nest, then panic, it’s difficult to control the outcome.

# 2 – Keep Your Home Tight and Secure

Never let a queen paper wasp find its way into your home. Take care to secure all windows, doors, cracks, and openings around your home. Assessing your home may be impossible if your home boasts many high to reach areas.

That’s why it may be a great idea to seek a professional paper wasp exterminator if they are a problem in or around your home.

# 3 – Consider Leaving the Paper Wasp Nest Alone

If the paper wasp nest isn’t near your primary residence, and if you don’t foresee people going near the nest, then it may be wise to leave it alone. Paper wasps can do a number on garden pests, so if you don’t go near them, they will, in all probability, benefit your yard and the local area.

# 4 – Remove the Paper Wasp Nest

Paper wasp removal is an anxiety-inducing affair if you don’t like insects, buzzing, or the idea of being stung. The process is even more complicated if the paper wasp nest is in a tough-to-reach area. If you decide to remove a paper wasp nest, then take care not to get stung! Try your best to wear long sleeves and any protective clothing that you can muster.

It’s always a smart move to consult with a licensed pest removal professional because different variables may call for varying removal options.

Paper Wasps Professional Pest Control

If a paper wasp nest near your home is causing undue stress, then it’s probably wise to seek the counsel of a paper wasp exterminator. If the paper wasp nest is in a difficult to reach location, if you are frightened of wasps, or if you are allergic to wasps, then it’s doubly wise to consider professional pest control.

Benefits of hiring a professional Paper Wasps exterminator:

  •  Eliminate the paper wasps without getting stung
  •  Avoid any stress or hassle that the wasps may bring your family
  •  Keep your loved ones, family, and pets safe

More Information on Paper Wasps:

Final Thoughts

Since paper wasps love a secure foundation to nest, you may very well find them near the primary entrance to your home. The first thing to remember is that paper wasps aren’t necessarily your enemy.
Paper wasps don’t want to prey upon you or your family. However, when threatened, the paper wasp will unleash a vicious sting that’s wise to avoid.

For that reason, take precautions whenever you find a paper wasp in or near your home! They mean you no harm; however, if left to thrive, the nest can cause undue stress to you and your loved ones.