Galapagos Species Checklist

Polistes versicolor (Oliver, 1791)

Avispa de papel amarilla, Yellow paper wasp

Wasp Nest (Polistes versicolor), Muro de las Lagrimas, Isabela, Galapagos. Photo: Frank Bungartz, CDF, 2008.
Wasp Nest (Polistes versicolor), Muro de las Lagrimas, Isabela, Galapagos. Photo: Frank Bungartz, CDF, 2008.

The predatory, stinging paper wasp is characterized by yellow transparent wings with a black body and yellow bands on the thorax and abdomen. It is a social wasp, and builds hanging paper nests that can hold tens to thousands of individuals along with multiple queens.

A predatory stinging insect distinguished by yellow transparent wings and black and yellow bands on the abdomen. It is social, building hanging paper nests that can hold 10s-1000s of individuals and many queens.












Taxon category: Accepted

Taxon origin: Introduced - established


Feeding type: Polyphagous

The yellow paper wasp competes for food with native vertebrates such as finches by feeding on insect larva, mainly Lepidoptera (as cited in Foottit & Adler, 2009), at a rate of 17-154g per ha per day (Langor & Sweeney 2009) along with consuming fruits and flowers.

Trophic role: Omnivorous

Reproduction mode: Exclusively sexual

Distribution origin: South America


Mode of introduction: Accidental

Status in Galapagos: Naturalized

Invasion risk score: Extreme risk

Impact in Galapagos: Estimated to prey on 17-154 grams of insect per hectare per day, competing with insectivorous birds for food. In inhabited areas it often builds its nest on house rafters and inflicts a painful sting to humans if disturbed. It also pollinates plants.

Impact elsewhere: This species is a voracious predator of invertebrates, especially butterflies and moths. It is often used as a natural predator to reduced agricultural pests.

Control History in Galapagos: The municipality carries out some nest removal in inhabited areas. The National Park Service also uses traps. Traps can be made at home, and simply consist of a yellow receptacle filled with water and detergent. The wasps are attracted to the yellow color and then drown in the slippery water.

Year of first record: 1988


Map of specimen collection localities or observation records for this species in our collections database.

Distribution: Santa Cruz, San Cristóbal, Isabela, Floreana, Santiago, originally from South America.


  • Peck, S.B. Heraty, J., Landry, B. & Sinclair, B.J. (1998) Introduced insect fauna of an oceanic archipelago: The Galápagos Islands, Ecuador. Am. Entomol. 44: 218-237.
  • Causton, C.E. Sevilla, C. (2008) Latest Records of Introduced Invertebrates in Galapagos and Measures to control them. Galapagos Report 2006-2007, CDF, GNP and INGALA, Puerto Ayora, Galapagos, Ecuador, p. 142-145.
  • Peck, S.B. (1994) Aerial dispersal of insects between and to islands in the Galápagos archipelago, Ecuador. Annls. Entomol. Soc. Am. 87(2): 218-224.
  • Roque-Albelo, L. Causton, C. (1999) El niño and introduced insects in the galápagos islands: different dispersal strategies, similar effects. Noticias de Galápagos 60: 30-36.
  • Peck, S.B. (1996) Origin and development of an insect fauna on a remote archipelago: The Galápagos Islands, Ecuador. In: Keast A., Miller S.E. (eds.): The origin and evolution of Pacific Island biotas, New Guinea to eastern Polynesia: patterns and processes. SPB Academic Publishing, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, p. 91-122.
  • Peck, S.B. (1994) Sea-surface (Pleuston) transport of insects between islands in the Galápagos archipelago, Ecuador. Annls. Entomol. Soc. Am. 87(5): 576-582.
  • Abedrabbo, S. (1991) Nueva Avispa Introducida en las Islas. Carta Informativa 31: 4.
  • McMullen, C.K. (2011) Pollination of the heterostylos Galápagos native, Cordia lutea (Boraginaceae) Plant Syst Evol (2012) 298:569-579
  • Foottit, R.G. Adler, P.H. (2009) Insect Biodiversity: Science and Society, John Wiley & Sons. pp. 494.
  • Langlor, D.W. Sweeney, J. (2009) Ecological Impacts of Non-Native Invertebrates and Fungi on Terrestrial Ecosystems Springer. 66 pp.
  • Óscar Mollá Bhushan Shrestha (2020) First record of Hirsutella saussurei in the Galápagos Islands and first evidence parasitizing the invasive paper wasp, Polistes versicolor Revista Brasileira de Entomologia 64(2):e20200031, 2020 https://

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