The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Paper Wasp

Afrikaans name: Papierwesp

Paper Wasp making a nest

Paper Wasp on its nest

Photo © Steven Herbert

Belonogaster dubia

The most common type of wasp found in association with man are the Paper Wasps. There are, however, a number of different species in this group. In fact, the genus Belonogaster comprises of a few dozen species that are found throughout tropical and sub-tropical Africa. There are a few species which occur in the Middle East and south Asia.

Paper Wasps are so called because they make paper-like nests that hang from a ceiling, roof, or other protected place. Although they are carnivorous, they chew woody material to make their nests. The nest is started by one female who has already been fertilized. The resulting young then help the female in expanding the colony.

The most common food of these insects are caterpillars. The adults feed the larvae on pre-chewed caterpillars and other soft-bodied insects. The wasps themselves are a favourite food of the European Honey Buzzard.

In the first quarter of 2022 Cape Town has been invaded by European Paper Wasps. These are an invasive species and should be eliminated if possible. These wasps are far more aggressive than our indigenous species. Another invader species is the German Wasp. These pose a threat to some fruit crops including grapes.

References and further reading

The Sandton Field Guide - Author: Sandton Nature Conservation Society - Published: 1982 - Page: 156

Sasol First Field Guide to Insects of Southern Africa - Author: Alan Weaving - Published: 0 - Page: 51

Suburban Wildlife in KZN - Author: Dr. Jason Londt - Published: 2009 - Page: 86

Field Guide to Insects of South Africa - Author: Mike Picker, Charles Griffiths and Alan Weaving - Published: 0 - Page: 404

Game Ranger in your Backpack - Author: Megan Emmett and Sean Pattrick - Published: 2013 - Page: 234


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