Several wasps species can be found in Maine, including species of yellow jackets, mud daubers, and bald-faced hornets. While yellow jackets are the most aggressive wasp species and are responsible for the majority of medically significant wasp envenomation incidents, they are not the most common wasp pests encountered within and around homes in Maine. According to a recent nationwide survey of pest control professionals, the common (northern) paper wasp (P. fuscatus) was the most commonly managed wasp pest of homes during 2016. In the northeast, however, the non-native wasp species, P. dominula, has become the most commonly managed wasp species within and around homes. This species is more commonly known as the “European paper wasp,” and their nests are frequently encountered on the undersides of eaves, within wall voids, and in attics.
The European paper wasp is native to the Mediterranean region of southern Europe, and they have successfully established non-native habitats on multiple continents. The European paper wasp was first discovered in the US during the late 1970s when colonies were recovered from Cambridge, Massachusetts, and they were not officially documented at inhabiting the US until 1981. Although this species was introduced into the country relatively recently, it has expanded into most states, but they remain most abundant in the northeast. Due to their yellow and black striped bodies, European paper wasps are frequently mistaken for yellow jackets, and they have an acute awareness of their surroundings while inhabiting their nests. While nesting, these wasps can detect human movement from more than 20 feet away, but they typically do not attack humans that are not in close proximity to their nests. Due to their habit of building nests on and within homes, nests that are located in high-traffic areas like door frames and light fixtures should be removed or treated by professionals only.
Have you ever encountered an active wasp nest within your home?