T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Wasp (Asian Paper) Polistes chinensis antennalis

Kingdom: Animalia 
Phylum: Arthropoda 
Class: Insecta 
Order: Hymenoptera 
Family: Vespidae 
Subfamily: Polistinae 
Tribe: Polistini 
Genus: Polistes 
Species: Chinensis
Scientific name: Polistes chinensis
Subspecies: Polistes chinensis antennalis
Synonyms: Euodynerus caspicus, Euodynerus caspicus subsp. Astrachanensis, Lionotus cardinalis, Polistes caspicus
Common name: Asian Paper wasp, Chinese paper wasp, Paper wasp.

Polistes chinensis antennalis invaded New Zealand in 1979 (no one is sure how), and by 1990 was widespread. throughout the upper North Island and present as far south as Nelson. As with other invaders, paper wasps can have a negative effect on our environment. They eat native invertebrates and compete with other animals, such as insect-eating birds, for this prey. They also compete with birds, such as tui and bellbirds for nectar and honeydew

Wasps are active from early spring to late summer. Each female wasp is potentially a queen. The one female wasp that becomes dominant assumes the role of queen and is cared for by the others. The other wasps also search for food and care for the wasp larvae. Polistes chinensis colonies are small.
Polistes chinensis have a simple social structure, with only females and males, all help with food gathering, nest building, and producing and rearing young.

Polistes chinensis antennalis are longer and more slender than common and German wasps. Also, unlike common and German wasps, when paper wasps fly they do not hold their legs close to their body. A wasp flying with "long dangly legs" identifies it as a paper wasp.

Polistes chinensis have small honeycomb nests which are made out of wood chewed and moulded by the wasps. They collect the fibre by scraping wooden structures with their mandibles (mouthparts). The wasp then chews the wood and mixes it with saliva. This makes the wood fibre extremely soft and moist. After a period of chewing, the wasp adds the paste to the nest structure and spreads it out with her mandibles and legs. After it thoroughly dries, a type of tough, durable paper is formed. The small, usually less than 20 cm in diameter cells are in a single layer with no outer covering cells where the roof is covered with a shiny secretion that acts as water-proofing. Their nests (combs) hang from small shrubs and trees, fences and walls and often under the eaves of houses.

A photo of the colouration and patterns of the abdomens of the three main pest wasps in New Zealand.
Head of a female

Head of a male. 

Species identification can also be made by examining their head patterns.
Asian Paper wasp males are distinguished from the female by having a yellow face and ventral surface, and antennae that are recurved (bent backwards). Asian Paper wasp males are usually seen only from mid-March to early April              Female                                             Male & Female                                      Male & Female

Photo showing how the comb is attached to a branch.

A female Polistes chinensis antennalis building a comb (nest)

A wasp chewing building materials and mixing it with saliva before placing it on the comb.

A Polistes chinensis antennalis wasp nest with the newly laid eggs visible. One egg per cell.
One egg per cell

The Polistes chinensis antennalis wasp nest.  The heads of the wasp's grubs can be seen inside each cell

A Polistes chinensis antennalis grub (larva)

Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0