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
  • 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 Central Florida

Paper wasps are named thus because of the paper-like material of their nests. They are also often known as “umbrella wasps” due to the unique shape of their nests. There are over 22 species of paper wasps in the U.S., and most of them are a brownish color with yellow markings. Paper wasps are a common nuisance for homeowners here in the Orlando FL area because they commonly build their nests right in your backyard. Adult paper wasps are typically brownish with yellow markings, although a few species have red markings. Adults feed on plant nectar and honeydew, while the paper wasp larvae are fed insects, including caterpillars, flies, and beetle larvae.

Paper Wasp Nests & Behavior

Paper wasps build open, exposed nests that resemble an upside-down umbrella.  These nests are built by overwintering queens in the fall months to survive the winter. Later in the summer, these nests can grow larger in size. At the same time, the wasps become more aggressive in defending their nest. Supported by a single stalk, the comb nests are constructed of a paper-like material, made by combing plant fibers with saliva to make water-resistant nests. Each tier is not enclosed by a paper cover.

These nests can be found in a variety of locations, such as under and within the eaves of structures, in attics and wall voids, and in many other enclosed areas. Some of the more notable locations to encounter nests include exterior lighting fixtures, parking meters, bird boxes, trees, vents, fences, window or door frames, and infrequently used equipment like gas grills, motor homes, and boats. Because their nests can be just about anywhere, they are commonly seen by residents.

Paper Wasp Behavior & Dangers

Despite their sometimes-aggressive behavior, 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 defensive of their nests 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 dangerous for those allergic.

If you notice a paper wasp nest forming, contact your local wasp control experts.