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Species Polistes fuscatus - Northern Paper Wasp

Northern Paper Wasp - Polistes fuscatus - female Wasp Insecticide - Polistes fuscatus - female Northern Paper Wasp (Polistes fuscatus) - Polistes fuscatus - male wasps mating - Polistes fuscatus - male - female Paper Wasps - Polistes fuscatus - female Polistes - but which? - Polistes fuscatus - male Paper Wasp - Polistes fuscatus - male Northern Paper Wasp - Polistes fuscatus - 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 (Paper Wasps)
Species fuscatus (Northern Paper Wasp)
Other Common Names
Golden Paper Wasp, Common Paper Wasp
Explanation of Names
Latin for "dark, smoky-colored"
15 to 21 mm
Note that previous keys such as (1) do not properly separate P. fuscatus from related species.
North America, from British Columbia east to the Atlantic, and south to West Virginia. (Evans, 1963; Milne, 1980)
This information may be obsolete. There are images in Bugguide from Florida, Texas and other southern states.
Nests in woodlands and savannas. It is fairly common around human habitations, especially where exposed wood is present and can be used for nest material. (Evans, 1963; Milne, 1980)
Adult P. fuscatus feed mainly on plant nectar. The species is considered insectivorous because it kills caterpillars and other small insects in order to provide food for developing larvae. Foragers collect various prey insects to feed to the larvae. The wasp then malaxates, or softens the food and in doing so absorbs most of the liquid in the food. This solid portion is given to older larvae and the liquid is regurgitated to be fed to younger larvae. (Turillazzi and West-Eberhard, 1996)
Life Cycle
Lifespan is approximately one year, or the time it takes a queen to develop and to mate. Larvae from eggs that are laid during the summer are well fed because of abundant food, and are capable of becoming queens. These eggs hatch before fall and the resulting offspring hibernate during fall and winter. The new queens emerge in the spring to begin nests and lay eggs. By fall, after laying eggs that will develop into new queens, these queens die. All accompanying workers and males die with the queen. (Evans, 1963; Unknown, 2001)
P. fuscatus has unusually variable color patterns, allowing wasps to recognize each other's individual faces. (Sheehan and Tibbetts 2011)
Works Cited
1.The Social Wasps of the Americas Excluding the Vespinae
Richards, O.W. 1978. British Museum (Natural History).
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].