Paper wasps are considered to be beneficial insects, until they nest in close proximity to people, putting us at risk for stings. When this happens, the nest needs to be eradicated.
Paper wasps construct the familiar, open-celled paper nests we often see suspended from eaves or porch ceilings. Paper Wasps use caterpillars, beetle larvae, and other insect prey to feed their young.
Annually, the paper wasp queen builds a new nest, using wood fibers she chews into a pliable pulp. Once she raises her first generation of workers, these offspring will assume the role of construction workers, expanding the nest to meet the needs of the growing colony. In fall, freezing temperatures will kill all but the queen, who seeks shelter under leaf litter and hibernates for the winter. Nests are rarely reused the following year.
Paper wasps can and will sting in defense of their nest, or when threatened. Unlike honeybees, which have barbed stings and can only sting once, paper wasps can sting multiple times. A paper wasp can call other colony members using alarm pheromones, chemical messages that tell other wasps to help defend the nest from a threat.
Due to the danger, larger nests or those found later in the season, should be left to professional pest control operators.