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Wasp - Polistes - female

Wasp - Polistes - Female
Konawa, Seminole County, Oklahoma, USA
August 30, 2008
Size: 19mm (3/4")
This wasp was guarding a nest, which is up underneath the siding. I should have paid closer attention to her warnings but I didn't. When I came close (about five feet) to get a picture she would flutter her wings and I could tell I was bothering her. I took this picture and you can see that she is now fixated on me, was not fluttering her wings anymore, and stood without moving. So, me being the rocket scientist that I am (NOT!), decided to move a little left and take a closer shot. I didn't move much, maybe four or five inches. Immediately she dove straight at me and stung me in the chest. Then she flew back to her post to see if I would test her again, which I did not! It left a quarter size whelp on my chest which went away a couple of hours later. I am not at all allergic to bee, wasp, scorpion, or any other type of sting but today (09/01), two days later and my chest is still a little sore.

This was taken back home in Seminole County where I grew up, which is in the south-central part of the state. I had forgotten that the critters are considerably more aggressive there than up here in Sand Springs. I wonder why?

For obvious reasons this is the only pic I got of this wasp or the others.
Please help with ID if possible.

Moved from Polistes.

sorry to hear you got stung
I also wonder why a certain species of wasp might have a different nature in different areas.

This wasp was giving you a clear warning... wings outward, front legs rearing up, and a stare like nothing else!

Its fun to mess with them sometimes when they are like this...

and i did not even get stung once ;)

Definitely clear warnings! But, I chose to ignore them and got stung. I've been stung quite a bit in my life, partly because I'm an idiot and ignore clear warnings like this, and partly from just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I'm not really sure why critters seem to be more aggressive at mom and dad's in the south-central part of the state and not as aggressive in the north-eastern part of the state. But, it is definitely a true fact. Just today I encountered another Polistes that looked similar to this one and was on top of my chimney. I went up there (also with my camera of course) to see what was going on where the chimney meets the roof. I had suspected opossums had been up there digging into the side of the chimney, I assume to get at the wasps or the larvae (I've seen quite a few wasps up there this summer). But, when I got up there I saw raccoon scat all over the place instead of opossum. I wasn't aware raccoons raided wasps nests. Anyway there was this one wasp on top of the chimney that I was trying to get a picture of, similar to the one in this pic. But, it never displayed any of the warnings that the one in this pic did. I didn't get a picture it though because it flew away. I guess my point though is that I was much closer (maybe around 1'-6" to 2'-0") from it than the one in this pic. Strange.

By the way, was that you in the video? If so, it looks like you don't have any better sense than I do! :-D

oh raccoons!
I have lost many nests due to raccoons. you have got to watch those things because you turn your back for one second and the next thing you know they have destroyed another one of your nests!
Yeah Polistes wasps in my area are somewhat more aggressive than in other parts of the state. Still remains a mystery why though.

yes that was my video... I must say that was one of the most daring things I've done... usually if i disturb a nest for fun, i have something to hide behind ;)

"Workers" are all females. Males will have longer antennae and perhaps a more 'square' face (rather than the very triangular faces of females).

I should have figured out it was a female because males can't sting, correct?

I think you are correct
and I think you got pretty unlucky there. I am in the habit of bugging Polistes paper wasp nests all the time to get photos or just a closer look. The other day I had my camera about 2 inches from several nests. Thus far (knock on wood) I have yet to be stung by any of them. I am very familiar with that defensive posture though!

Polistes sp.
It's either Polistes carolina or Polistes perplexus, but in general they are impossible to tell apart from photos like this.

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