Paper wasps are commonly found throughout Texas and are easily identified using certain visual cues. These wasps are typically 1 inch in length and can vary in coloration from reddish-orange to dark brown, and some species can even have yellow markings on their body. Possibly one of the easiest methods of identification is their nest shape. These nests are constructed from chewed wood fiber, are umbrella shaped, hang from a single filament, and have one tier of hexagon-shaped cells. If allowed to persist, a nest will grow on average to a diameter of 6 to 8 inches and can contain several dozen wasps. Paper wasp nests are typically found under eaves, but can also be found in garages, sheds, barns, shrubbery, or any protected area.
Each paper wasp nest is initiated by one foundress wasp. She will locate a nest site, start building the nest, lay eggs, and collect provisions to feed the brood. Once the female workers emerge, they assume the tasks of collecting food, constructing the nest, caring for the brood, and nest defense. The foundress wasp remains in the nest for the rest of her life to produce brood.
In the fall, males and reproductive females are produced. The females will mate and leave the nest to find a spot to overwinter. In the spring they will become the new foundress wasps and will generate new nests. The remaining workers will die off in the winter months and the nest will become vacant and will never be reused.