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.


  • Female wasps will help each other build nests but only one queen will lay eggs
  • Known as semi-social wasps that live in small colonies without a worker caste
  • Often confused for yellowjackets but have a thinner waist

Paper Wasps in Santa Fe and Albuquerque NM

With more than 22 paper wasp species in existence in the United States, they are one of the most commonly seen wasps. They are often confused with yellowjackets, but are often more brown in color with yellow markings. Paper wasps are best identified by their unique nests. Paper wasp nests often look like an upside-down paper cone and hand from horizontal surfaces in shaded, protected location. These wasps feed on caterpillars, spiders, and other types of insects. Like many types of social wasps, paper wasps are aggressive and will sting when threatened.

Paper Wasp Habitat

There’s a reason why paper wasps are often called “umbrella wasps”: Their nests are known to look like upside-down umbrellas. Made out of a papery material, their nests have a papier mȃché feel to them. Unlike yellow jackets, paper wasp nests are somewhat open and not completely covered.

Paper wasp nests can most often be found either on tree branches or under eaves, attic rafters, and porch ceilings. Because nests can be built directly on a home, these wasps have been known to make their way indoors through holes in attic vent screens or underneath shingles. Paper wasp nests should be avoided, even when you suspect they are empty.

Paper Wasp Behavior & Threats

Like many types of social wasps, paper wasps can be more aggressive at times. This is especially true when they feel their nest is threatened. That said, these wasps are known to keep the insect population under control. They also assist in pollination by feeding on nectar. The main danger with paper wasps is the fact that they are able to sting repeatedly. For this reason, it’s important to never disturb their nest. Stings can be extremely painful, and medical attention should always be sought if you are experiencing bad symptoms from a sting. If you have a paper wasp problem, always contact your local wasp control experts.