Striped paper wasps are sometimes confused with yellow jackets, due to their striped yellow and black bodies. Striped paper wasps are much less aggressive and usually will not bother humans unless disturbed.
Striped paper wasps build their nests out of a paper-like substance. These nests are quite complex. They consist of a number of exposed cells, or combs, that hang in an umbrella shape. This shape is suspended on a long pedicel, which aids in the protection of the nest against predators, like ants.
Paper wasps prefer to build their nests from tree branches and overhangs, such as eaves or windowsills. The paper wasps will usually only use a nest for one season.
Striped paper wasps are non-aggressive. They are different from other wasp species because they are semi-social. They exist in smaller colonies, and often will have more than one queen who helps with nest building and egg production.
Like other wasp species, a queen who has survived the winter starts the paper wasp nest. The striped paper wasp queen creates cells in the nest in which she lays her eggs.
The queen will care for the larvae until they emerge as workers. She will then relinquish her duties of feeding and nest building, and concentrate on laying eggs. Striped paper wasp queens that are newly hatched will fly off with males in the late summer. They will mate, and the inseminated queens will hibernate over the winter. The old colony will completely die off in the fall. When spring arrives, the queens will appear to rebuild their nests and start a new colony.
Striped paper wasps are beneficial insects. They eat caterpillars and other pests. If nest building occurs too close to human activity, it can become a problem. Seek help from a pest control professional before you attempt to remove a nest.