There are several varieties of wasps in North America, including the Yellow Jacket (Vespula pensylvanica), Baldfaced Hornet (Dolichovespula maculata), and Paper Wasp (Polistes dominula).
Colour ranges from black to combinations of black with yellow, white or brown markings. The slim, winged body measures 10 to 19 mm (l/2″ to 3/4″). All wasp species have chewing mouth parts and the females possess a stinger.
The wasp colony consists of queens (fertile females), workers (sterile female), and males. In late summer the queens and males mate; the males and workers die off and the fertilized queen overwinters in a protected site. In the spring the queen collects materials from plant fibre and other cellulose material and mixes it with saliva to construct a typical paper type nest. Nests can be found around buildings on verandas, under eaves, ceilings, attics or in trees and shrubs. Several varieties of wasp build nests underground.
Wasps are very protective of their nest and though they will use the nest for only one season the nest can contain as many as 10,000 to 30,000 individuals.
Wasps are considered to be beneficial because they feed on a variety of other insects. Nevertheless, wasps represent serious health threats to many individuals. Wasps can typically sting multiple times. A wasp sting, aside from being very painful can prove serious and sometimes fatal.
Although they don’t typically attack unless threatened, wasps inject venom upon stinging, which can cause serious and even fatal consequence for allergic individuals.