Paper Wasp

Actual Size: 0.75 to 1.25”

Characteristics: Black abdomen, mahogany body with distinct yellow ring, black wings

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: Build umbrella-shaped, paper-like nests in residential yards. Nests often hang from twigs and branches, porch ceilings, and more.


  • After the queen wasp dies, a new egg-laying female becomes the queen
  • Eat nectar and other insects, including flies and caterpillars
  • Not necessarily aggressive, but may sting when defending their nest

Paper Wasps in Knoxville TN

With more than 22 species around the nation, paper wasps are one of the most commonly encountered wasps in residential areas here in Tennessee. They are commonly mistaken for yellowjackets, but tend to be more mahogany/brown in color with less yellow markings. Often confused with yellowjackets, paper wasps are sometimes referred to as umbrella wasps, and are most easily identified by their nests. Paper wasp nests often look like an upside-down paper cone and typically hang from a horizontal surface in a shaded, protected location. Like other types of wasps, paper wasps feed on spiders and other kinds of insects.

Paper Wasp Nests

Their umbrella-shaped nests look like they are made out of paper. Paper wasps build these comb nests to hang from twigs, branches, trees, shrubs, porch ceilings, door frames, eaves, attic rafters, and more. These nests are somewhat open and not completely covered. Other female paper waps help to build nests, but only one queen will lay eggs inside. Their nests are frequently built on buildings, making it hazardous for residents.

Paper Wasp Habits & Dangers

Similarly to mud daubers, paper wasps are considered to be beneficial to the environment for keeping the insect population under control. They also assist in pollination by feeding on nectar. Paper wasps are considered aggressive and have been known to sting repeatedly when threatened. For this reason, it’s important to never disturb their nest. If you notice a nest forming in or near your property, always contact your local wasp removal experts. Nest removal can be dangerous and always requires the assistance of a licensed professional.