If you’re outdoors barbequing and there’s a yellow-and-black buzzing pest that just won’t leave you well enough alone, it’s quite probably a European Paper Wasp. San Francisco‘s downtown core is rife with them, and they get along better in highly urbanized environments than they do in the suburbs, so they’re more prevalent here than in the surrounding area.
The European Paper Wasp was first detected near Sacramento in 1989, and as an invasive species has been largely unchecked in its spread over the last 25 years. There was already a massive population of native stinging wasps, and the two do compete over a decent amount of resources, so they haven’t taken over absolutely everything. They have, however, been making steady progress out of the San Joaquin River Delta into San Rafael — and, recently, across the bay into San Francisco proper.
The European Paper Wasp is longer and more slender than the native wasps, but is more often confused for a yellow jacket because the patterns of their yellow-and-black markings are nearly identical.
They eat mostly caterpillars, aphids, and unfortunately honeybees — but as we mentioned, the Paper Wasp seems to have developed an absolute passion for barbequed meat as well. Given the chance, they’ll actually carve small bits off of your barbeque to carry back to their hives and feed to their young. CSI crews have even been known to consult apiarists to figure out how to keep Paper Wasps off of homicide victims’ bodies in the late spring and early summer!
The adults themselves most often eat carbs rather than meat, particularly as the summer drags on, leading them to be frequently found on (or in!) sugary soda cans in the late summer — leading to an unfortunate prevalence of stings on the lips and tongue during those months.
If you find a clump of honeycomb-shaped, paper-like material on the underside of any rainproof surface on your property — under your eaves, in your shed, or even on the bottom of a wooden fence railing — call Burge Pest Control today, and we’ll take care of them quickly and efficiently.