Paper Wasp (Polistes Apachus)

Paper Wasp
Paper wasp on a Mexican sour gherkin vine

I went outside with the intention of picking fruit off my Mexican Sour Gherkin vine and encountered an obstacle – a paper wasp. I do not know if it was the horrible heat index, but the wasp let me get very close and take some pictures. I think it just wanted to hide in the shade of the leaves or catch an early dinner. Perhaps both.

gherkin and wasp
Sour gherkin fruit and paper wasp

There are 22 types of paper wasps in North America. They are the wasps that make that open honeycomb-like nest that looks and feels like papier-mâché. It is chewed fibers from dead wood and plant stems mixed with saliva. I guess ‘chewed paper’ is quite accurate.

Generally we think of wasps as painful pests. Despite the aggressive territorial behavior around their nests, paper wasps are a great predator to have in your garden when you have a caterpillar problem. I always knock the nests down when they are near doors, but this year one group of wasps decided to make a nest near my tomato plants. If they leave me alone when I am checking the tomatoes, I will leave their nest alone.  We will all benefit from the arrangement.


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