top of page

European Paper Wasp

Scientific Name:

Polistes Dominula




Temperate climates including habitats like grasslands, forests, and agricultural land


Native to parts of the Mediterranean, Europe and Eurasia; introduced to North America, the south-eastern region of South America, and South Africa, and are expected to spread further


Least Concern (IUCN Red List)

This species is


to the Truckee Meadows.


European paper wasps are social insects that can have a nest size of several hundred individuals. Paper wasps get their name from the fact that they construct their nests out of saliva and paper. Commonly confused with the yellowjacket wasp, these insects have a black body with yellow coloration and yellow/orange antennae. Adults can grow to be up to 2 centimeters in size and have a 2.5 centimeter wingspan. These wasps are omnivorous; they eat a wide variety of insects as well as collect nectar from fruit and other plants. Only the queens of this species hibernate through the winter in colder areas. The workers die off every year and a new brood is born each spring. A worker's lifespan is less than a year, but the queen can live through several winters.

Fast Facts:

  • European paper wasps are starting to replace native wasp populations in areas where it was introduced.

  • Occasionally there will be more than one queen in a single hive. 

  • Unlike bees, these wasps can sting multiple times. Watch out!

  • European paper wasps are commonly found nested in buildings and urban environments.



Kevin Livingstone (research & content)

Alex Shahbazi (edits & page design)

Last Updated:

March 27, 2024 at 1:48:22 AM

bottom of page