Metricus Paper Wasps – A Quick Guide

The matricus paper wasp, Polistes metricus, is native to North America.

Are metricus wasp colonies founded by a single queen?

A colony may have more than one foundress. Many wasp colonies will begin with just one foundress wasp who establishes a new site to lay her eggs. The metricus foundress though may be joined by other foundresses in the early stages of a colony. They will assist each other in the early phase of the colony but ultimately they will compete and only one will become queen. In this situation, if something were to happen to the queen then she can be replaced by another of the foundresses, so giving more security to a colony.

Metricus paper wasp
Metricus paper wasp -Melinda

Do metricus wasps have nests?

A colony may have more than one nest. This is relatively unusual among wasps but they can establish more than one nest or even share nets with other nearby colonies. This behavior can offer protection from the loss of a nest to predators or parasites such as moths that can infiltrate a nest. Surprisingly they can even share nests with other species of paper wasp.

Do metricus wasps resuse nests?

They can reuse old nests. This behavior is somewhat unusual in wasp species. Usually, old nests are not reused from season to season, but this has been observed in this species (source). Other wasp types such as yellow-jackets by contrast are known for their tendency to avoid nesting near old nests.

What is the flying behavior of metricus wasps?

They often fly just one meter above the ground. They can be seen flying at very low levels when foraging for food. They do this when hunting nearby to their nests and fly not far above the vegetation to seek out prey such as caterpillars. They will fly much higher when going further from the nest.

Do metricus wasps hunt?

Like all social wasps, the adult wasps will spend a lot of time foraging to feed the larvae in the nest. They will kill prey such as caterpillars and then chew them with their mandibles. They appear to be eating them but actually they are just chewing them. The adult wasp does not eat solid food. It will feed this chewed up insect pulp straight into the mouths of the hungry larva within the nest. The adults may consume some of the liquid components of their prey but predominantly consume sugary foods such as nectar.

Do wasps have personalities?

We can observe different personalities within people and pets but personality is not something typically associated with wasps. Now studies have clearly shown that queen metricus wasps do have distinct personalities showing that they do not all behave alike. In other words, they do not all robotically follow the same programmed behavior. For example, some will be bolder, some more aggressive.