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For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
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Species Polistes carolina - Red Wasp

Polistes Carolina or Polistes Metricus? - Polistes carolina - female Wasp - Polistes carolina Orange Wasp - Polistes carolina Polistes carolina - male - female Polistes, but...  Perplexed in S Carolina - Polistes carolina - male Red Wasp - Polistes carolina - male Wasp - Polistes carolina - male Red Wasp - Polistes carolina - female
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Hymenoptera (Ants, Bees, Wasps and Sawflies)
No Taxon (Aculeata - Ants, Bees and Stinging Wasps)
Superfamily Vespoidea (Yellowjackets and Hornets, Paper Wasps; Potter, Mason and Pollen Wasps and allies)
Family Vespidae (Yellowjackets and Hornets, Paper Wasps; Potter, Mason and Pollen Wasps)
Subfamily Polistinae (Paper Wasps)
Genus Polistes
Species carolina (Red Wasp)
Other Common Names
Red Paper Wasp
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Polistes carolinus--spelling/gender
32 mm
Large Polistes, red all over with dark wings. P. annularis may be very similar but typically has abdomen with prominent yellow rings. (This character is of unknown reliability--just based on perusal of some images on the Internet.)
Southeastern and south-central United States.
As for other Polistes, presumably.
Life Cycle
Perhaps somewhat different from other Polistes? Brimley, (1) says that P. canadensis annularis, which perhaps! included the similar P. carolina at that time, overwintered as males and females. Salsbury shows P. carolina emerging from a hollow log, perhaps in spring. P. Coin has observed what is apparently a colony of P. carolina emerging from a hollow tree in March in the Sandhills of North Carolina. This bears further investigation.

This species may prefer to nest in very sheltered locations, such as hollow trees--this should be investigated.
See Also
Very similar Polistes perplexus--see notes on that guide page.
Distinguishing between the two requires a close look at the "cheek" (character works only on females). P. carolina is shown below; for a side-by-side comparison of the two species see here (images from Polistes key in the Identification Atlas of the Vespidae of the Northeastern Nearctic Region (2)).
Print References
Drees, p. 284, fig. 343 (3)
Salsbury, p. 279 (4)
Brimley, p. 441, listed under P. canadensis annularis? (1)
Works Cited
1.Insects of North Carolina
C.S. Brimley. 1938. North Carolina Department of Agriculture.
2.Identification Atlas of the Vespidae (Hymenoptera, Aculeata) of the Northeastern Nearctic Region
Matthias Buck, Stephen A. Marshall, and David K. B. Cheung. 2008. Biological Survey of Canada [Canadian Journal of Arthropod Identification].
3.A Field Guide to Common Texas Insects
Bastiaan M. Drees, John A. Jackman. 1998. Gulf Publishing.
4.Insects in Kansas
Glenn A. Salsbury and Stephan C. White. 2000. Kansas Dept. of Agriculture.