Paper wasps get their common name from the paperlike material of which they construct their nests; The nests are an umbrella-shape that consists of single-layered brood chambers of paper. Nests remain relatively small, with colonies generally numbering less than 200 workers.
Paper wasps have elongate bodies with distinct body segments, long metathoracic legs that are held outstretched in flight, and strong, relatively narrow, wings.
Only the female have a stinger, but Paper wasps are relatively docile, rarely attaching humans unless provoked.
Paper wasps are considered beneficial insects because they prey upon many pests that feed on agricultural crops. However, in urban areas, paper wasps hang their comb nest in a variety of protected sites near humans, including under the eaves and porch ceilings of houses and outlying buildings, in attic rafters bushes, trees, under bark, and sometimes under stones. The threat of a paper wasp’s sting, and the homeowner’s perception of stinging insects in general, cause the greatest consternation. Car accidents are documented as having resulted from frantic attempts by drivers to avoid contact with a trapped wasp or bee.
In the autumn, inseminated females seek places to over winter. They will investigate crevices and penetrations associated with vents, and skylight flashing, chimneys, window and door frames, utility-line penetrations etc.
Overwintering wasps may find their way into living spaces on sunny autumn, winter, or spring days, especially if there are cathedral ceilings present. Since these are inseminated females and not daughters defending a nest, they are not aggressive and stinging rarely occurs.
Paper wasps are beneficial insects, helping to control many insect pests, however, if their nest is located near human activity, control is warranted. It is essential that the adults be contacted and killed or they will quickly rebuild a nest.
For adults, use an appropriately labeled pesticide such as an aerosol pyrethrin or a pyrethroid and do the application in the early morning or at night. Then remove the nest.