Do Paper Wasps Sting? Understanding Paper Wasp Behavior

Posted by Matthew Rathbone on February 20, 2023 · 3 mins read

If you’re a homeowner who spends time outside in your backyard, you’ve probably encountered paper wasps. These inch-long insects are common throughout North America and are known for their distinctive papery nests. But do paper wasps sting? And if so, what should you do if you encounter them?

DIY Wasp removal recommendations

For non aggressive wasps I've had great luck spraying the nests with this Spectracide wasp remover in the evening. For more aggressive wasps I also use this rediculous looking upper torso Beekeeping suit. It seems silly, but trust me, it's amazing.

What are Paper Wasps?

Paper wasps are a type of social wasp that live in colonies. They are called paper wasps because they build their nests out of a papery material made from chewed-up wood fibers mixed with saliva. The nests are usually shaped like an upside-down umbrella and have open cells where the wasps lay their eggs.

Paper wasps are typically yellow and black, although some species may have reddish-brown markings. They are slender and have long, skinny legs that dangle when they fly. Unlike other stinging insects like bees, paper wasps have a thin waist connecting their thorax and abdomen.

Do Paper Wasps Sting?

Yes, paper wasps can sting. In fact, they are one of the more aggressive types of wasps and will defend their nests if they feel threatened. Paper wasp stings are painful and can cause redness, swelling, and itching. In rare cases, people can have an allergic reaction to paper wasp venom that causes difficulty breathing, hives, and swelling of the face and throat.

However, paper wasps are not as likely to sting as other types of wasps like yellow jackets. They are more solitary and less likely to swarm or attack in large numbers. Additionally, paper wasps are beneficial insects that help control other backyard pests like caterpillars and grubs.

How to Safely Coexist with Paper Wasps

If you see paper wasps in your backyard, there are several things you can do to safely coexist with them:

  • Avoid disturbing their nests. Paper wasps are unlikely to sting unless they feel threatened. If you leave their nests alone, they will usually leave you alone.

  • Keep food and drinks covered. Paper wasps are attracted to sweet smells, so keep food and drinks covered when you’re outside. This will reduce the likelihood that they will be attracted to your picnic or barbeque.

  • Wear protective clothing. If you need to work near a paper wasp nest, wear long sleeves, pants, and closed-toe shoes to protect yourself from stings. You can also wear a hat and veil to protect your face.

  • Consider professional removal. If paper wasps are building their nest in a high-traffic area like your front porch or back deck, you may want to consider having it removed by a pest control professional.

By following these tips, you can safely coexist with paper wasps and enjoy your backyard without worrying about getting stung. Remember, paper wasps are important members of the backyard ecosystem and play an important role in controlling pests.