Paper wasps are common around most homes in the Bay Area. They are a slender wasps about 1 inch long with long legs and a tiny waist. Their colors can vary from golden brown or darker with large patches of yellow or red.
During the spring, fertile queens that over wintered set out to make new colonies. Every colony is started by one queen. She will build a nest made from chewed up wood fibers and saliva. She will then lay eggs inside these cells and continue to build. She will feed the larvae protein from insects until her first workers hatches from their pupa.
Once workers hatch they will continue the expansion of the nest by building and hunting insects. Since paper wasps are social, when food in brought back to the nest it is shared by all of the colony.
Paper wasps build these paper umbrella-like nests under any protected area, such as under eves, in attics, under fence rails or inside sheds. There can be several colonies near each other.
There are several species of paper wasps and most are not aggressive. However if they are provoked or their nest is threatened, they can and will bite and sting repeatedly.
The colony continues to grow throughout the summer. Most paper wasp colonies rarely exceed the size of an outstretched hand and contain between 15 to 200 individuals.
In the fall, new queens and males are produced. Soon after mating the new queens will leave to over winter and start the cycle next spring. As food supplies dwindle the colony dies out, leaving the empty nest behind.
Since each home can have several colonies in several different areas. Treatment for each colony can vary. We can only control paper wasp nests and not individuals flying around your home.