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Paper wasp are about 1 inch long. They have a slender body with a very narrow waist. The body is reddish brown with black and yellow bands. The wings are also reddish brown. Females build a globular hanging nest made of gray or brown papery material. They gather fibers from dead wood and plant stems and mix it with saliva to construct a water-resistant nest. They also secrete a chemical which repels ants around the base of the nest anchor to protect their eggs and brood. Paper wasp are considered social wasps. Research has discovered they have face recognition abilities similar to humans. They can recognize individual wasp in their colony. Scientist think this benefits the colony by enabling them to remember a social hierarchy that helps maintains peace in the nest. Paper wasp are territorial. They have a painful sting but are not very aggressive unless they feel threatened. Paper wasps feed on nectar and insects like caterpillars, flies, and beetle larvae. They are considered beneficial to gardeners.
Paper wasp build nest under overhangs, in pipe openings and along tree branches. There are about 22 species in North America.
These paper wasp have built their nest in a small bald cypress tree beside a pond and next to a very popular deck for viewing wildlife. I stood under the tree and extended my camera at arm's reach to within 12-14 inches of the nest without the paper wasp leaving their nest to attack. As I drew closer, more of them gathered on the side of the nest facing me and I quickly backed off.
Spotted on Aug 20, 2012
Submitted on Aug 20, 2012