Polistes metricus



This is a medium-sized wasp approximately 1 inch or 25 mm in length.  The head and thorax are mostly red with some black markings on top of the thorax.  The abdomen is mostly dark brown but some individuals have a narrow, yellow band on the abdomen between segments two and three.  The antennae are mostly dark with some reddish coloration at the base.  The legs are marked with contrasting colors of red, black and yellow.  The wings are dark brown and folded longitudinally as is typical of this genus.  Males and females are similar except the males have a yellow face and the females have a red face.  This is the only species of Polistes in which the males have a yellow face.  The swelling on the underside of abdominal segment 2 is a major identifying character for this species.


This wasp is common in Fontenelle Forest and Neale Woods all summer.  It can be seen on weathered wood collecting wood fibers for building their nests.  They are also commonly seen nectaring on flowers.


This is an eastern species of Paper Wasp (subfamily Polistinae) which occurs as far west as Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma.  The fertilized queens overwinter under tree bark or in crevices.   The umbrella shaped open comb nests are built in both sheltered and exposed places such as under eaves of roofs, on tree limbs and shrubs.  The prey is mostly caterpillars.

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Female Polistes metricus

Female Polistes metricus

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