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 Golden paper wasp (Polistes aurifer)




Golden paper wasp | Polistes aurifer photo
Golden paper wasp (Polistes fuscatus aurifer) foraging on ooze from tree

Photograph by Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org. Some rights reserved.  (view image details)

Golden paper wasp | Polistes aurifer photo
Golden paper wasp (Polistes fuscatus aurifer); Fort Collins, Colorado, United States

Photograph by Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org. Some rights reserved.  (view image details)

Golden paper wasp | Polistes aurifer photo
Golden paper wasp (Polistes fuscatus aurifer); overwintering queen

Photograph by Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org. Some rights reserved.  (view image details)

GOLDEN PAPER WASP FACTS

Description
The Golden paper wasp is variable in color. In some areas it is mainly black on the head and thorax, and has a golden yellow abdomen with black bands and a black tail tip. Wasps from southern areas are reddish and golden yellow with little black. The legs and antennae are mainly golden in color. The nest is paper-like and made from wood fibres mixed with saliva. The nest is a flat disc that hangs downwards and can have up to two hundred cells. This species is very similar to Polistes fuscatus and used to be a considered a subspecies. The wasps die by the end of the year apart from the queen wasp which overwinters to start a new nest the following spring.

Size
about 18mm

Environment
Nests in sheltered locations such as building eaves or roofs

Food
feed on sugar and nectar. Larvae feed on caterpillars brought to the nest by adults

Breeding
a solitary queen wasp starts building the nest, which starts out as a stalk, and becomes hanging disc shape, made up of a single layer of hexagonal cells. The female lays an egg in each cell of the nest. The eggs eventually hatch into larvae which develop and spin silk over the cell opening before pupating. The next generation of adult wasps emerge from the pupae.

Range
Polistes aurifer is found in the western United States from Texas to Montana and west to the Pacific coast from Washington to California. It is also found in southern British Columbia, Alberta in Canada, and in Mexico.

Classification
Class:Insecta
Order:Hymenoptera
Family:Vespidae
Genus:Polistes
Species:aurifer
Common Name:Golden paper wasp


Relatives in same Genus
  Red Paper Wasp (P. annularis)
  Paper wasp (P. apachus)
  Red Wasp (P. carolina)
  European Paper Wasp (P. dominula)
  Common paper wasp (P. exclamans)
  Northern paper wasp (P. fuscatus)
  Paper wasp (P. metricus)
  Red-brown paper wasp (P. olivaceus)