Genus: Polistes Latreille, 1802
Common names: polistine wasps, umbrella wasps, paper wasps
The genus Polistes occurs worldwide. This is the most common group of paper wasps in the subfamily Polistinae in North America. They are semisocial wasps with a queen and workers in each nest. The name umbrella wasp refers to the shape of their nests, which have exposed cells on one side and a petiole on the other, without a paper envelope.
The distribution of Polistes sp. by GBIF: https://www.gbif.org/species/1310500
To identify the family Vespidae:
To identify to genus Polistes:
Polistes is the largest genus in the family Vespidae, with over 300 species and subspecies.
Polistes species build single-layered nests that are sometimes shaped like an umbrella, with the cells exposed and no envelope around the nest. The nests are suspended from a surface by a petiole and are constructed from a paper-like material made from a mixture of saliva and plant fibers chewed from softwood or dead twigs.
Adults fly from early spring to late fall in temperate regions, and year-round in warm regions. The nest founding (or pre-emergence) phase begins in spring where a nest is initiated by one or several related females. Eggs are laid in the cells and guarded by the foundress and assisting females, if are present. The worker phase starts in early summer. The workers emerge and take on most of the colony’s work, foraging, caring for the brood, and maintaining the nest. At this point, all of the assisting females are aggressively driven from the nest and either build their own nests or usurp another’s nest. Mature colonies contain up to 30 adult females. During the reproductive phase, males and females emerge from the nests and mate during nuptial flights. As soon as the nuptial flight happens the colony enters the intermediate phase where care for the nest and individuals decreases. Almost exclusively inseminated females gather in groups of up to 50 individuals and seek a protected site to overwinter. Polistes annularis males may also overwinter (Wikipedia 2021).
The European paper wasp, Polistes dominula, was introduced into the U.S. in about 1981 and has spread quickly throughout most of the country, in most cases replacing native species within a few years. There are also multiple introduced species of Polistes that are pests in New Zealand.