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Superregnum: Eukaryota
Cladus: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Cladus: Holozoa
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Protostomia
Cladus: Ecdysozoa
Cladus: Panarthropoda
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Hexapoda
Classis: Insecta
Cladus: Dicondylia
Subclassis: Pterygota
Cladus: Metapterygota
Infraclassis: Neoptera
Cladus: Eumetabola
Cladus: Endopterygota
Superordo: Hymenopterida
Ordo: Hymenoptera
Subordo: Apocrita
Superfamilia: Vespoidea

Subfamilia: Polistinae
Tribus: Epiponini - Mischocyttarini - Polistini - Ropalidiini
Overview of genera




Carvalho, A.F., Menezes, R.S.T., Somavilla, A., Costa, M.A. & del Lama, M.A. 2015. Polistinae biogeography in the Neotropics: history and prospects. Journal of Hymenoptera Research 42: 93–105. DOI: 10.3897/JHR.42.8754. Reference page.
Kojima, J. & C. van Achterberg 1997: List of the primary types of social wasps (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) deposit in the Nationaal Natuurhistorisch Museum, Leiden, and the Zoölogisch Museum, Amsterdam. Zoologische Meededelingen 71 (14): 157–169. Full article: [1].
Perrard, A., Nel, A. & Carpenter, J.M. 2014. A new paper wasp from Late Eocene of France (Hymenoptera: Vespidae: Polistinae). Zootaxa 3753(6): 542–548. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.3753.6.2 Reference page.
Somavilla, A., Marques, D.W.A., Barbosa, E.A.S., Pinto, J.S., Jr. & Oliveira, M.L. 2014. Vespas Sociais (Vespidae: Polistinae) em uma Área de Floresta Ombrófila Densa Amazônica no Estado do Maranhão, Brasil. EntomoBrasilis 7(3): 183–187. DOI: 10.12741/ebrasilis.v7i3.404 Reference page.

Vernacular names
English: Paper wasps
suomi: Paperiampiaiset
日本語: アシナガバチ亜科
Nederlands: Veldwespen

The Polistinae is a subfamily of eusocial wasps belonging to the family Vespidae. They are closely related to the more familiar wasps (“yellowjackets” as they are called in North America) and true hornets of the subfamily Vespinae, containing four tribes. With about 1,100 species total, it is the second-most diverse subfamily within the Vespidae, and while most species are tropical or subtropical, they include some of the most frequently encountered large wasps in temperate regions.

The Polistinae are also known as paper wasps, which is a misleading term, since other wasps (including the wasps in the subfamily Vespinae) also build nests out of paper, and because some epiponine wasps (e.g., Polybia emaciata) build theirs out of mud,[1] nonetheless, the name "paper wasp" seems to apply mostly, but not exclusively, to the Polistinae, especially the Polistini.

Many polistines, such as Polistes fuscatus, Polistes annularis, and Polistes exclamans, make their nests out of paper. Polistes annularis suspends its paper nests from cliff overhangs via a pedicel, whose free fatty acids induce the necrophobic response in ants and causes them to avoid the pedicel rather than cross and prey on the nest’s inhabitants.[2] Polistes metricus foragers take off from their nests as if they already know how long their trip is. For short flights, they exit the nest flying horizontally, while for long flights they exit the nest flying straight up into a high altitude before pursuing their direction.[3] Polistine brood cells are arranged in a hexagonal array, similar to the comb structure in a honey bee nest. Some species of the epiponine genera Polybia and Brachygastra store honey in the comb, among the few insects other than bees to store honey (also some ants store honey in their bodies).
Polistes africanus


Characteristics of the Polistinae are:

The queens (reproductive females) are morphologically similar to workers, though sometimes slightly larger or differently colored.
The abdomen is spindle-shaped, often petiolate.
The antennae of males are curled.
The nest is sometimes open (the nests of vespines are always enclosed in several layers of paper).

Colony life cycle
Nest of a Polistes sp.

Polistine wasps found colonies in one of two ways. In some species, nests are founded by a small number of reproductive females, possibly a single one. One of the foundresses eventually acquires dominance over the other and is the sole reproducer. The nest is open (not enclosed by an envelope) and contains a single comb.

In the other group, called "swarm-founding", the nest is founded by a large number of workers and a few queens. It is usually protected by an envelope, like a vespine nest.
Selected species of Polistinae
South American epiponine nest

Tribe Polistini

Genus Polistes
P. adelphus
P. annularis
P. atrimandibularis
P. bellicosus
P. biglumis
P. bischoffi
P. carolina - red paper wasp
P. chinensis - Chinese paper wasp
P. dominula - European paper wasp
P. fuscatus - northern paper wasp
P. humilis - common paper wasp
P. instabilis
P. japonicus
P. metricus - Metric paper wasp
P. semenowi
P. sulcifer
P. tepidus

Tribe Mischocyttarini

Genus Mischocyttarus
M. collarellus
M. flavitarsis
M. labiatus
Mischocyttarus drewseni

Nest of Polybia honey-making wasps

Tribe Epiponini

Genus Agelaia
A. multipicta
Genus Apoica
A. pallens
A. pallida
Genus Brachygastra
B. lecheguana
B. mellifica
Genus Leipomeles
L. dorsata
Genus Parachartergus
P. colobopterus
Genus Polybia
P. dimidiata
P. emaciata
P. occidentalis
P. scutellaris
P. sericea
Genus Synoeca
S. chalibea (often misspelled as chalybea)
S. cyanea
S. septentrionalis
S. surinama
S. virginea

Tribe Ropalidiini

Genus Ropalidia
R. marginata
R. revolutionalis
R. romandi


O'Donnell, S; Jeanne, R.L. (2002). "The nest as fortress: defensive behavior of Polybia emaciata, a mud-nesting eusocial wasp" (PDF). Journal of Insect Science. 2 (3): 1–5. doi:10.1673/031.002.0301. PMC 355903. PMID 15455037.
Espelie, Karl (1990). "Surface lipids of the social wasp Polistes annularis (L.) and its nest and nest pedicel". Journal of Chemical Ecology. 16: 1841–1852. doi:10.1007/bf01020498. PMID 24263988.

Dew, Heather (1978). "Foraging flights of two species of Polistes wasps (Hymenoptera: Vespidae)". Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society.

External links

Social Behavior of Polistine Wasps
Article on Australian Paper Wasps
Nest defence behavior in two species of Polybia
Ropalidia marginata a primitive eusocial wasp
Iconography of the Vespidae of the World

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