#66 Dark Paper Wasp

Dark Paper Wasp (Polistes fuscatus)

4 May

Common throughout southern Canada, the United States, and Central America. It often nests around human development. However, it prefers areas in which wood is readily available for use as nest material, therefore they are also found near and in woodlands and savannas. P. fuscatus is a social wasp that is part of a complex society based around a single dominant queen along with other cofoundresses and a dominance hierarchy.

Colony founding can be either independent or swarm founding. Independent founding consists of the founding of small, simple nests that are constructed without a paper envelope by a single or few queens with one or several inseminated egg-layers and no workers. Swarm founding includes the construction of large swarms and are founded by multiple queens with many workers. Nests are produced using wood provided from their habitat, masticated with fluid produced by its mouth to create a pulp-like substance.

In early spring, the new queen emerging from hibernation starts a new colony, building an umbrella-shaped nest made of a papery material and suspended from a single stalk. The queen lays eggs into individual cells. The first generation is composed of infertile female workers. In the next generation, multiple queens are hatched with communal nests, but the other fertile females accept the dominance of a single female and raise offspring cooperatively. Later in summer, the next year’s queens are produced, and they mate with males. The newly mated queens hibernate in winter, while old founding queens, workers (sterile females), and males die.

Eats arthropod prey, caterpillars, flies, ants, termites, spiders, bees, and other wasps. Carbohydrates may include nectar, sap, and fruits.

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