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Paper Wasp

Actual Size: 0.75 to 1.25”

Characteristics: Black abdomen, mahogany body with a distinct yellow ring, black wings

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: Constructs umbrella-shaped, paper-like nests within residential yards, often suspended from twigs, branches, porch ceilings, and similar locations.


  • They live in colonies led by a queen and exhibit a hierarchical social system with workers, males, and the queen.
  • Paper wasps can be defensive of their nests and will sting when they feel threatened, releasing alarm pheromones to alert others in the colony.
  • They primarily feed on nectar and other insects, which they catch to feed their larvae.
  • Female wasps have been observed helping each other to build nests, but only one will lay eggs in the respective nests.

Paper Wasps in Atlanta, GA

In the U.S., there are more than 22 paper wasp species, mostly sporting a brownish hue with yellow markings. Mistakenly identified as yellowjackets, these wasps are also known as umbrella wasps, distinguished by their distinct nests. Their upside-down paper cone-shaped nests are commonly found suspended from sheltered, horizontal surfaces. Similar to other wasp species, paper wasps primarily feed on insects, spiders, and similar prey.

Paper Wasp Habitat

Paper wasp nests resemble inverted umbrellas and possess a papier-mâché texture, distinct from yellow jackets. These nests, partially exposed and not fully sealed, are commonly located on tree branches, under eaves, attic rafters, and porch ceilings. Their inclination to construct nests directly on buildings means they are often found indoors, having gained access through openings like holes in attic vent screens or beneath shingles.

Paper Wasp Behaviors, Threats, or Dangers

Like mud daubers, paper wasps are beneficial for regulating insect populations and aiding in pollination through nectar consumption. While helpful to the environment, they are known for aggressiveness and can sting repeatedly if provoked, emphasizing the need to avoid disturbing their nests. Their stings can cause significant pain, highlighting the importance of relying on professional wasp control services to manage paper wasp infestations around your home.