Paper Wasp

Actual Size: 0.75 to 1.25”

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

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: Build umbrella-shaped, paper-like nests in residential yards. Nests often hang from twigs and branches, porch ceilings, and more.


  • Moderately aggressive wasps that can sting repeatedly
  • Eat nectar and other insects, including flies and caterpillars
  • Female wasps will help each other build nests but only one queen will lay eggs

Paper Wasps in Vermont

Paper wasps are very common nationwide with over 22 known species. These wasps are frequently mistaken for yellowjackets, but are different in several ways.Paper wasps are sometimes referred to as umbrella wasps, and are most easily identified by their nests. Paper wasp nests often look like an upside-down paper cone and typically hang from a horizontal surface in a shaded, protected location. Like other types of wasps, paper wasps feed on insects, spiders, and the like. They have a thinner waist than yellowjackets, and are more red or brown in color.

Paper Wasp Nests or Hives

Paper wasp nests are much different than other types of wasp nests. They look like upside-down umbrellas and have a papier-mȃché feel to them. Unlike yellow jackets, paper wasp nests are somewhat open and not completely covered. Nests can most often be found either on tree branches or under eaves, attic rafters, and porch ceilings. Because nests can be built directly on a home, these wasps have been known to make their way indoors through holes in attic vent screens or underneath shingles. Even if a paper wasp nest appears inactive, it’s important to never approach one in case stinging insects are still inside.

Paper Wasp Habits & Stings

Paper wasps are considered to be beneficial to the environment for keeping the insect population under control. They also assist in pollination by feeding on nectar. Paper wasps are considered aggressive and have been known to sting repeatedly when threatened. For this reason, it’s important to never disturb their nest. Stings can be extremely painful, and it’s important to always consult a medical professional should you experience severe symptoms from a sting.

If you have paper wasp nests forming on or near your Vermont property, contact your local wasp control experts for help.