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Genus Polistes - Large Paper Wasps

FAMILY VESPIDAE, subfamily Polistinae 

This page contains pictures and information about the Large Paper Wasps in genus Polistes that we found in the Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia. They are also known as Papernest Wasps.
 
There are different species of Paper Wasps. Those wasps in genus Polistes build inverted mushroom-shaped. They build rather small paper combs nest suspended from a peduncle and not surrounded by an envelope. In Brisbane they are either Polistes tepidus, P. variabilis or P. townsvillensis. They are dark brown in colour with yellow bends on dark brown abdomen. The thorax is black in colour with yellow 'V' markings. Their faces are yellow with large compound eyes.

 
Black and Yellow Large Paper Wasp
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Polistes tepidus, body length 25mm
We found this large wasp hunting on grass alone. This is one of the largest wasp species in Vespidae family. From reference: this paper wasp species build a single horizontal comb of hexagonal paper cells nest attached by a short stalk. They are dull black in colour with orange yellow antennae and abdomen. Please also check this page for more information.
   
 
Common Large Paper Wasp, Australian Paper Wasp
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Polistes variabilis, length 20mm
First picture shows a Paper Wasp starts building its nest in spring. The second picture shows the established colony in mid-summer. They are social wasps living in colonies in a nest built of chewed plant tissue or "paper".  They are aggressive with potent sting. They will attack and sting if their nest is disturbed. More information and pictures of Paper Wasps in this page
 
 
Brown Large Paper Wasp
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Polistes stigma townsvillensis, length 20mm
This Paper Wasp is brown in colour with yellow strips on thorax and abdomen. This species is not as common as the above two species in Brisbane. Please check this page for more information.
 

Reference:
1. Insects of Australia, CSIRO, Division of Entomology, Melbourne University Press, 2nd Edition 1991, pp 980.
2. Insects of Australia and New Zealand - R. J. Tillyard, Angus & Robertson, Ltd, Sydney, 1926, p296.
3. Paper Wasp Fact Sheet - by Chris Burwell, Queensland Museum, 2006.
4. What wasp is that? - An interactive identification guide to the Australasian families of Hymenoptera, 2007.
5. Northern Territory Insects, A Comprehensive Guide CD - Graham Brown, 2009.
6. Subfamily Polistinae - Australian Faunal Directory, Australian Biological Resources Study. 
7. The Australian social wasps (Hymenoptera : Vespidae) - Richards, OW (1978),  Australian Journal of Zoology Supplementary Series 26 , 1132. 

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Last updated: August 02, 2012.