Paper Wasps


  • Colour Paper wasps have yellow and black stripes and orange antennae
  • Size The pests average 10 to 25mm long with smooth, slender bodies
  • Notes When flying, a paper wasp’s long legs hang down below its body

How to identify Paper Wasp

Often confused with yellow jackets, paper wasps have yellow and black stripes and orange antennae. The pests average 10 to 25mm long with smooth, slender bodies. When flying, a paper wasp’s long legs hang down below its body.

There are several kinds of paper wasps in Canada, but the European paper wasp is most likely to affect residents. This species is non-native and continues to invade different regions.

Identification tips

  • Paper wasps are semi-social and live in colonies made up of queens, workers, and males.
  • Queens wait out cold weather hidden in building cracks or tree bark before choosing a place the following spring to build their nests.
  • Eggs are laid in individual cells, pupate, and eventually become workers.
  • Rather than reproducing, workers help build the nest and aid in feeding and protecting young.
  • There are 20 to 30 adults in a mature paper wasp nest.
  • Queens halt egg production by late summer and retreat to their winter hiding places, leaving the rest of the colony to die over the winter.

Signs of an infestation

The sight of a paper wasp nest is usually the first indication of an infestation. They are flat with a layered, papery covering and a comb inside. The numerous hexagon-shaped cells usually contain visible larvae. Also, seeing workers near fruit or plants can indicate a nearby hive.

Paper Wasp Removal

To avoid wasp stings, never attempt to dispose of a nest without professional assistance. Because of the risk associated with paper wasps, it always best to contact the trained pest experts at Orkin Canada for proper removal.


Since treatment for foraging wasps is not practical, our inspection will revolve around the search for one or more nests.

  • The wasps tend to build their nests under shelter in an area protected from the weather.
  • We search for nests by inspecting the exterior of the home, garage, outbuildings, sheds etc.
  • We check attic areas especially near the soffit overhang area.
  • We look for nests near gutters just under the first tier of shingles.

How to prevent Paper Wasp from invading

Avoid leaving out any sweet foods, fruits, or juices that may entice the pests. Prevention methods like commercial wasp sprays are ineffective, as are paper bag traps and supposed repellents like dryer sheets. Bottles filled with attractive liquids may confine a few wasps, but will not eliminate the hive.

Clean-Up & Prevention tips

  • Keep recycling containers clean and tight.
  • It’s always a good idea to eliminate spilled food & drink to reduce attractiveness to foraging wasps.
  • Prior to parties, you can direct a water sprinkler on flowers to temporarily keep wasps from the yard.

Habitat, Diet, and Life Cycle


Paper wasps continue to expand their range and reside in many different parts of Canada. Often found near fruit trees and orchards, the pests will live anywhere they can build nests. These nests hang upside down and require shelter, so common locations include branches, eaves, and windowsills.


Insects and caterpillars are common prey for paper wasps, especially at the larval stage. Adults may feed on fruit or nectar. Sweet items, like soda, jam, and alcohol, may also attract them, ruining outdoor picnics.

Life Cycle

As social wasps, the pests live in colonies with one fertile, egg-laying queen. The following is a typical paper wasp life cycle:

  • New queens emerge in late autumn to find shelter for winter in buildings, trees, or debris.
  • In spring, they come out to make nests, laying eggs in honeycomb-like cells.
  • The queen feeds larvae with captured insects.
  • These young grow into workers that take over food and nest maintenance.
  • Females that mated during this cycle become the next queens.

Commonly Asked Questions

How worried should I be about paper wasp?

The name paper wasp comes from the pests’ nesting material. They collect fibres from structural wood or plant stems and combine them with saliva to make a papery substance. This could cause damage to decaying wood. In addition, nests can be large and unsightly, housing very large colony.

Some wasps may enter homes through cracks to nest in wall voids. If homeowners disturb their nests, paper wasps may sting. They are highly defensive and become aggressive quickly. Stings cause swelling and could trigger allergic reactions.

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