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Paper Wasp Queen Identification

Paper Wasp Queen Identification
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    When spring and summer roll around, you’ll likely see a lot of insect activity around your home and property. While some insects aren’t really a nuisance or danger, you might be concerned with any bees or wasps buzzing around. While species like the paper wasp tend to be pretty calm and non-threatening for the most part, they can become quite aggressive when they feel someone is too close to their nest. 

     If you’re trying to rid your property of a paper wasp nest, it’s a good idea to know what you’re looking for. A queen paper wasp is in charge of the nest. Being able to pick her out from another species of wasp is ideal. Do you know what you’re looking for?

     Paper Wasp Queen vs. Worker

     When they are first born, there aren’t many noticeable differences between a paper wasp queen and a worker wasp. While we can’t see any differences, the wasps can often pick out a potential queen. They will have a slightly bigger structure of their body, but this is something the wasps are able to see before we are.

     As the paper wasp larvae feed and grow, the queen’s size will become much more noticeable. The queen’s role will begin to change as she accepts her role as the ruler of the nest. She will focus on reproduction, while other workers will leave the nest each day to find food. They will work to expand the structure of the nest as well.

     What Does a Queen Paper Wasp Look Like?

     The most common characteristic that sets a queen paper wasp apart from their workers is size. A queen paper wasp will be approximately .25 inches longer than the rest of her colony. Becoming queen actually starts very early on. It will be recognized that there is a wasp that is larger than others in the colony.

    That wasp will be raised in a part of the nest that is separate from all other wasps. Once she has reached adulthood, her job as queen will become more apparent. 

     Aside from how the queen wasp looks, there are internal features that makes her quite different. She often possesses a larger amount of proteins in the body that will allow her to thrive more successfully in the winter.

    Also, her reproductive ability will not be active until later in her life, whereas workers are born with their reproductive ability. They actually lose that feature as they grow older. 

     

    What is the Role of a Paper Wasp Queen?

    paper wasp egg and larvae stage

    The role of a paper wasp queen is vital. The queen is the one who begins making the nest and starting her new colony. Without her, the colony will not be able to thrive. She is responsible for reproducing and expanding the colony with the help of her workers.

    Worker paper wasps will tend to the colony, bring back food for the larvae, and expand the nest as needed. Once the queen is in full swing with reproducing, this is the main job that she will not take a break from until temperatures start to drop again.

    Because the queen paper wasp is the one that lays all of the eggs for the colony, her survival is imperative for the colony and nest to survive throughout the season. If you can distinguish who the queen is and destroy her, you’ll be able to tackle the paper wasp problem that you have going on in your yard.

     Do Paper Wasp Queens Hibernate?

     During the winter months, the queen will actually leave her nest and colony. She will find somewhere safe where she can hibernate until the temperatures start to rise again. In the meantime, the paper wasp nest will die off. The nest will break down because of the cold temperatures, precipitation, and wind present in the winter months.

    Once spring arrives, the queen paper wasp will awaken. She will go right to work, creating a new nest from the pulp that she creates using wood fibers somewhere in the area. From there, she will reproduce, build her colony, and thrive.

     If you find a hibernating paper wasp queen during the winter months, destroying her will prevent the colony from starting back up again in the spring. Because paper wasps can be beneficial to your property and garden, you may want to think twice about killing the queen.

    Leaving her where she is might actually do your yard some good. Just be sure that you watch out for her new nest. If it’s in a location of your property that sees many people passing through, you could be in danger of getting stung if the wasps feel threatened.

     

    Sources:

    https://www.clemson.edu/extension/beekeepers/fact-sheets-publications/paper-wasps.html

    https://www.livescience.com/32703-how-does-a-wasp-become-queen-.html

    https://greennature.com/paper-wasps/

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